The key challenge in haircare is how to be seen as superior (and therefore worth paying more for) in what is becoming a commoditised category. The reason? Women have become highly skeptical about the many impressive-sounding benefit claims in advertising, only to find the product does not live up to expectations when they try it, making them think “All shampoos are the same”.
Pantene across ASEAN, India and Australia has been built on its hair health brand equity, and has historically used local celebrities as beauty ambassadors. However, competitors are increasingly copying both that positioning and Pantene’s advertising model, further blurring brand differentiation.
Pantene needed something to stand out from the crowd, and regain its leadership position. The answer came with the launch of a new treatment product – ‘The 3 Minute Miracle’. So how did this one little tube transform the brand’s fortunes?
Treatments are a relatively small – but more premium and higher margin – market segment. Women see greater value in treatments vs. shampoo, as they see and feel more of a visible difference after usage.
The new product also came with a very impressive performance claim: “The 3 Minute Miracle repairs three months of damage in just three minutes.” So impressive, in fact, that it ran a major risk of being considered totally unbelievable by wary consumers!
The challenge facing Grey Group, Pantene’s global agency partner, was how to overcome these believability issues, then design and execute the launch campaign so that sales and image benefits would also halo across the entire Pantene shampoo and conditioner range?
Idea & Execution
Crucially, the product delivered. Consumer feedback post-trial was overwhelmingly positive – “Wow!”– instantly overcoming any initial skepticism. Plus, research had also uncovered a simple but powerful consumer insight which resonated strongly with busy working mothers: “Time is nothing but the difference you can make with it”.
So the creative idea developed by Grey was deliberately very challenging: “Pantene’s 3 Minute Miracle makes me believe I can make the seemingly impossible happen in just minutes”. To bring this thought to life in a persuasive way, however, it was essential to go beyond advertising alone. Whilst women are skeptical about advertising claims for beauty products in general, they are strongly influenced by independent endorsements from friends, hair-stylists and beauty magazine editorials. So, the integrated communications plan was designed to also build 3rd party credibility, talk value and ultimately trial.
Grey created one range TV ad featuring Pantene’s celebrities, and another more science-oriented version for the treatment. Grey/G2 also developed print creative buys, a major magazine sampling programme and advertorials, and partnered with Blue to create an online campaign. In addition, magazine beauty editors were invited to attend a major launch event and an outreach programme was developed to key bloggers.
The launch coincided with the onset of the global recession, and also saw aggressive instore price promotions from competitors. Despite this, Pantene total brand sales value and share across the region grew to record highs over the campaign period, taking leadership for the first time in many markets. Brand trial and usage also increased significantly in all markets. The new treatment tube alone added more sales than any other single new SKU for Pantene ever in the region, particularly in Australia, where it became the #1 selling SKU by value in the total hair-care market. Huge positive buzz was also generated across the region in beauty editorials and online forums as women discovered that miracles really can happen!