– The Power of Social Media – “Old Spice” Case study

Posted: February 1, 2011 in Com 125 (b) Intro to internet

According to Richard Dennison, senior manager of social media at British Telecom:

Social media is about participation. That participation can take the form of simply viewing relevant information that was previously hidden from view. But most often it takes the form of communication, collaborating, and connecting with anyone, anywhere, anytime.  It is about the interactions between people-individuals and groups-and the great potential to share more, learn more, and accomplish more.

Unlike traditional forms of media, which have limited pages or time on the airwaves, social media is “infinite” in its potential. Social media is represented in various forms and functions including: social networks, discussion forms, blogs, wikis and podcasts, and may include the use of videos and pictures, and so forth.

The use of social media to conduct qualitative research-  “OLD SPICE” case study


In 2009, Old Spice an American brand of male grooming products manufactured by Procter & Gamble, which acquired the brand in 1990 from the Shulton Company introduced Ever Clear, a stick formula deodorant that eliminates streaks, flakes and clumps based on insights gathered from qualitative research namely focus group and shop -a longs to observe consumers purchase decisions and behavior. From qualitative research the company was able to put together a new formula -with less white powders and waxes and contains small particles that blend right into the skin, creating a consistent and clear layer of long-lasting scented protection, according to P&G. With a target market of males 12 to 34 years old, Old Spice has–like the competing deodorant and body spray brand Axe--relied heavily on over-the-top humor and promises of having an aphrodisiacal effect on women.

Social media defines a problem

It was apparent from online forums and blogs that male consumers did not appreciate current deodorants because many left waxy residue which was uncomfortable and left white streaks, or “bar codes”, on their clothing.  According to one blogger, he unfavourably compared his antiperspirant’s texture to “the sugar coating on a glazed donut”. Moreover it was also apparent that many consumers had positive comments and were loyal users of Unilever’s Axe brand, Ever Clears main competitor.

Use of social media to further conduct qualitative research

Old Spice still leads in men’s deodorant sales -with about 25% market share.  Under the watch of Alex Keith, Procter & Gamble’s global deodorants general manager, Old Spice’s U.S. sales have increased by a full third since 2004, even though it has been in a pitched battle with Unilever’s Axe brand. By combining her scientists’ innovation with a fresh spin on the legendary marketing techniques of the $80 billion consumer-products giant, Keith’s goal is to fend off her rival and push Old Spice to be P&G blockbusters.

Some scientists spend the better part of each day talking to men of average attractiveness about how they sweat and smell. Others pore over grainy black-and-white video of underarms, magnified to 200 times normal size, and watch sweat glands up close as they spew out the fluids that grow odor-causing bacteria.  While Keith herself, wrinkles her nose at the thought of professional smell testers sniffing men’s underarms. But she makes no attempt to glamorize what she does: Her work, she says, essentially involves “getting more share of armpits.”

It’s partly the product of Keith’s relentless focus on getting guys to share their feelings about deodorant- She sends her marketing team out to tag along with guys on deodorant-shopping trips. Senior scientist Tim Nolan recently asked a focus group to explain what they didn’t like about their current deodorants by composing “good-bye letters” to them. He discovered that while most guys wanted the wetness protection that dry, solid antiperspirant sticks offered, many didn’t use them because the waxy residue was uncomfortable and left white streaks, on their clothing- mirroring the findings and comments made by bloggers online.

Armed with this insight, P&G chemist and research fellow David Swaile discovered a means of imbedding liquid molecules of the kind found in “invisible solid” deodorants into the waxy material found in typical antiperspirants. The breakthrough, as Swaile puts it, is akin to “making water not feel wet.”

Nolan ran the promising new formula through some product demos, which included rubbing it onto black cloth and then studying it under black light, as well as subjecting himself to more armpit porn, scrutinizing tight-focus photos to see how it looked when applied to men’s hairy armpits. When Nolan asked his focus group to write “love letters” to the new product, one aspiring poet asked, “Can it really be true, that such a product exists as you? If you’re willing to give it a shot, I’ll tell my friends to use you a lot.”

In the same way that Tide can make a bedsheet appear whiter on TV, P&G will now try to convince young guys that Old Spice deodorant isn’t just cool, it’s better.

Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/17/business/media/17adco.html?_r=1

My take

The social web will be the most critical marketing environment around.  Marketing therefore has to wrap around the social web, because what is truly changing in the social web is media, and marketing has always had to shape itself around media. “Individuals and companies are becoming media. As you produce content, you become a medium. Now user-generated content- a key aspect of the social web-is bridging media”.

The control of information continues to shift from marketers to consumers. Today, the computer and mobile phones allow consumers to find what they want when they want it. Hence marketers are not in control any more.

Besides the obvious point of increasing sales, Social Media like Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, etc.  provide a means for companies to ‘problem-solve’ for their clients, get useful feedback and ultimately get personal with customers. Moreover companies are always looking for information they can leverage to improve their reach in the Market and what better way to do this than getting on social media networks and listening to what people are saying.

Source: http://www.coneinc.com/contentmgr/showdetails.php/id/2092/view_type/950060/tagid/148


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