As my book Brand Relevance asserts—the only way to grow is to create a “must have.” It must define a new subcategory and then manage that subcategory by becoming its exemplar through ongoing innovation that creates a moving target.
No brand has done that better than Gillette.
Instead of being killed off by the introduction of the electric razor in the 1930s, it used innovation and self-expressive benefits to lead the subcategory (and thus Gillette) into profitability and dominance for the better part of a century throughout the developed world.
Gillette has been most impressive in India. In 2008, Gillette’s premium shaving subcategory needed to fight the low end, double-edged razors that had 80 percent of the market, as well as a growing subcategory represented by men modeling the stubble look of some movie stars who shaved only once a week. The breakthrough was a Gillette-stimulated program called W.A.L.S. (Women Against Lazy Stubble), designed to change perceptions and behavior toward the subcategory (as opposed to the Gillette brand).
It was based in part on a 2008 Nielsen survey that revealed 77 percent of women in India preferred clean-shaven men. The effort involved the campaign, “India votes, to shave or not,” the endorsement of two glamorous Bollywood actresses, a record setting event in which 2,000 males shaved simultaneously, and more.
The momentum of W.A.L.S. helped, but more was needed to counter the low-end market. Into that context, Gillette made its signature Mach3 razor much less costly (to only three times that of the double-edged razors where it had been fifty times). Perhaps more important, a new razor was developed, the Gillette Guard, which was equal in cost to that of the double edged razors. In addition, Gillette crated a distribution strategy that accessed the rural retailers that reached the mass of users outside urban areas.
By 2013, two out of every three razors sold in India was a Gillette Guard and the Mach3 enjoyed an increase in sales of some 500 percent. …Continue reading