Analysis – Unilever

Deodorant brands launch innovative rebranding campaigns to sharpen edge

LYNXCompetition in the deodorant market is intensifying, as the leading brands step up their marketing efforts in a bid to gain consumer loyalty.

Home and personal-care giant Unilever has just unveiled plans to undertake a major revamp of its three leading male and female toiletries ranges – Dove, Lynx and Sure for Women – backed by a combined marketing spend of almost £30m.

The move is in line with its growing focus on innovation and, last year, the company created 30 new positions at its global technology centre for deodorant, as part of a broader effort to strengthen its home and personal care innovation operation.

As part of the recent changes, Unilever is introducing new pack designs, featuring a more "feminine shape", and has reformulated its Sure for Women range and its recently-launched Crystal range of "anti-white mark" deodorants. The company is also seeking to extend its share of the male toiletries market by revamping its entire Lynx range.

As part of the initiative, Lynx last week signed a £1m deal with TV presenter and model Kelly Brook to become the face of its upcoming "BomChickaWahWah" advertising campaign for its body spray for men. Brook is the latest in a string of high-profile celebrities – including Jennifer Aniston, Eva Mendes and Ben Affleck – to have fronted advertising campaigns for the brand.

Breaking through
Unilever continues to dominate the category, with its share of the market exceeding 50% in 2005, followed by Gillette – which was acquired by Procter & Gamble (P&G) in a deal worth $55bn (£28.3bn) – with a 13.2% share, according to a recent report on the UK deodorant market by Euromonitor International.

Finbar Cartlidge, Sainsbury’s category-buyer for deodorants, shaving and men’s toiletries, says that, while it will be "difficult" for other brands to challenge the leading Unilever-owned brands, such as Sure, Lynx and Dove, many other manufacturers are tapping into the growth of the segment through innovation and brand extensions.

Cartlidge says the recent growth in the category has been driven largely by growing consumer demand for more premium aerosol and "skin-friendly" products.

Rival manufacturers, including Beiersdorf and Sara Lee, have responded to this shift with the creation of new products under their respective Nivea and Radox brands.

Last month, Nivea confirmed it would spend £5m on revamping its deodorant range and launching a major new campaign for the brand, in a bid to take on Sure (MW January 4). It represents its first major focus on the brand since it was launched in 2002.

In August last year, Radox extended its bodycare offering by launching its first range of unisex, anti-perspirant deodorants under its new Daily Elements brand, also backed by a £5m marketing spend.

Making connections
Alex Waters, a senior consultant at branding consultancy The Value Engineers, says the move is in line with a trend towards creating "stronger bonds with specific target markets" to combat fierce competition in the market.

He believes that brands are trying to push innovation further, by shifting away from the purely functional benefits of the product ranges to focus on developing an emotional connection with consumers.

"The market is not what it used to be," says Waters. "The days of Old Spice, crashing waves and overpowering scents are long gone. Brands are having to become slightly more radical and disrupt people’s expectations within the category more.

"Even though the product still delivers the same end benefit, brands are trying to create bigger ideas that sit above the product or category." With manufacturers developing their ranges as part of a total grooming package, investment in marketing and innovation looks set to continue for some time to come.

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