Imagine this, you walk into a supermarket and go ahead with your weekly or monthly purchase routine. Let’s take an example of a guy’s case. Let’s name him John and let’s make some assumptions (some bordering on generalizations, but just to make a point). Now let’s profile him.
John is a 35 year old male working as an Insurance Broker with an MNC. He is married and has 2 kids. A complete family man, he takes pride in the fact that he manages a good home, a lovely wife with 2 kids. However he knows that behind this ‘meticulous’ management, are some very regular trade offs he makes. ‘Informed decisions’ as he believes – wherein he tries to assess the ‘real worth’ of a product – be it a vacation, or his kid’s school bag, or a new shaving lotion or even a hair care product – and makes sure that he doesn’t pay more than its perceived worth. At the same time, he is not your typical coupon collector or one who jumps on discounts or sale promotions in order to shop. He doesn’t compromise on quality while he provides for his family. He believes that money well equals commensurate value realised.
So now with this image in mind, let’s say he goes shopping for him and his family (with a grocery list from his wife and a mental list that he has made for himself and for family).
Soup: may be he picks up what his wife asked him to
Baking Powder: same as above
Cooking oil: buys an oil that purports a story of health
Shaving foam: his regular, based on habit may be
Shampoo for him: may be his regular brand ‘coz he prefers its fresh ‘after feel’
Shampoo for his kids: as per his wife’s list, or may be something that speaks about mildness with a story of how some ingredients are essential for nourishment of hair
Soap: Soaps and Shampoos tend to be the kind of category with a ridiculous levels of variety and choice. He obviously knows that a soap is a soap is a soap and is after all meant to cleanse as its basic feature. Yet given a price he pays for it, he expects it to offer ‘something more’ – may be a kind of fragrance he is used to or a fragrance he seeks, or say a story around freshness and how great it is to feel clean and fresh, or may be some story around ingredients that are known to be beneficial for skin etc
May be.. yes? Now just assume that it was you at this position at this point in time. Just think that you are shopping for a toilet soap. Would you want something that just cleanses? If so, you are better off with a cheap detergent soap..right? So wouldn’t you seek out for ‘an additional feature(s)’ from your soap? Be it a brand story that it is so good for your skin, or an natural ingredient story, or may be some imagery of how awesomely fresh it makes you feel,.. you get the drift right?
Now if I were to stand there in the store (of course not as my actual self but as a very popular company that you have always known. A company that ironically also sells soaps with masculine fragrances, ‘coz you need to smell like a man, man ) and try to sell you a soap saying that “it is nothing but a soap as in a soap which looks like a soap feels like a soap and nothing else. Not made from any special ingredient, nothing special, just a white bar of soap that, again if I may repeat, just acts like a soap.”
Would you buy it? In fact would you even stop for a moment and consider it?
Would John consider it? Would he spend his money on something that is say a dollar cheaper than the other soap, yet says it is “JUST A SOAP and nothing else”?
Congratulations to the team behind Ivory for successfully commoditising a 140+ old history, a rich story of heritage, a brand associated with apocryphal urban legends in just one shot! Congratulations for redesigning its brand elements like typeface, positioning, colors etc and thereby spending good amounts of money to do just one thing – stripping the brand off all its wonderful associations and painstakingly reminding the consumer that what they have known of Ivory as a brand of soap is in reality after all JUST A SOAP. Nothing else.
Wow!! From the company that came some truly smart campaigns, I am surprised, shocked and in fact concerned to see a live case study of how a brand of nearly 150 years history can be shot in the head – point blank!
Let me try again: “You need to buy my soap, ‘coz it is after all just that – A soap”
I’m still curious – would YOU buy it? Or is it just me?
– from a genuine fan of Old Spice Campaign (so that you don’t attribute my blog post as anti competitive)
PS: The views provided here are solely mine in my personal capacity and not related to any other person dead or alive, or any company big or small for which I might have or haven’t worked for!