Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Taking an Axe to Gillette

I was wondering how long this would take.

In just a few decades, much to the chagrin of Junior High School teachers everywhere, the Axe brand has gone from zero to owning all things young male when it comes to smelling and grooming. Body sprays, washes, shampoos, gels, deodorants and more.

Now they're taking all that equity and leveraging it against one of the great rites of passage in a young man's life, shaving.

A few years ago, I did a project for another shaving manufacturer (not Gillette) looking to create products that appealed to guys 15 - 18 who were just starting to shave. I interviewed more than a dozen teenagers and had them show me all the things in their bedrooms and bathrooms that were most important to their lives (fyi, I now live in great fear for the future of our country).

My recommendation: do a deal with Axe or some other brand that was relevant to their hormonally driven lives.

The client's brand was dad's brand. And though dad taught them how to shave, like all teenagers, none of them really wanted to be their dad.

Knowing this, I'm a little surprised at Gillette's response in Ad Age; talking about all their skin care experience:
"We have a healthy respect for our competition, but millions of men put their face in Gillette's hands for a reason. We understand men's skin better than any other grooming brand."
I hate to break it to the marketers at Gillette, but teenage boys don't want to know how much you know about skin. They want to know how you're going to help them get laid. Marketing expertise and authority will only move teenagers more quickly to an Axe brand razor.

It's the same attitude GM adopted when Honda and Toyota hit the shores – we'll let those companies sell young people cheap econoboxes but when they're ready for a real car, they'll come to us – and we all know how well that worked out.

It won't happen overnight, but it won't be long before a generation of new shavers grows up with an Axe razor in their hands and Gillette's 84% market share begins to significantly erode.

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