Antiperspirant Update: Playing the Gender Card

November 22, 2005

Marketers are taking a more direct approach when appealing to the sexes

Old Spice added two new products to its expanding Red Zone line in 2004.

Thanks to Procter & Gamble’s recent acquisition of Gillette, 2004 might have been the last quiet year for the antiperspirant/deodorant (AP/Deo) market for a while. Sales remained steady at $1.1 billion—a barely noticeable 0.3% increase from the previous year for the 52-week period ended Dec. 26, 2004, according to Information Resources, Inc. (IRI), Chicago. (Sales are from supermarkets, drugstores and mass merchandisers, excluding Wal-Mart.) However, top brands did jostle for the top spot. Unilever’s Degree moved up a notch to No. 1 with $69.7 million, while last year’s lead- er—Mennen Speed Stick from Colgate—slipped 12.1% in sales to $64.2 million, landing it in third place. P&G’s Secret Platinum brand was ranked No. 2, with sales reaching $66.6 million, a 30% increase over the previous year. Most of the other brands experienced a slight decrease in sales for the year.

In terms of innovation, most companies simply expanded their existing lines. Body sprays and washes were heavily marketed in the men’s sector, while in the women’s sector, more products boasting nourishing properties were introduced. P&G combined two well-known names in women’s products and launched Secret Platinum & Olay Conditioners.

According to experts, one of the major trends in the AP/Deo market in 2004 was gender segmentation. “Gender segmentation is becoming more pronounced within deodorants, with unisex brands getting pushed out,” commented Will Cobbins, U.S. analyst for Euromonitor International, a London-based research company. “Deodorants are becoming a gender-specific product and makers are playing on this fact by offering innovations that speak to the sexes.”

Ap/Deo manufacturers are sweating over P&G’s acquisition of Gillette, which is expected to be completed this fall. According to IRI, P&G remained the U.S. leader in the deodorant category in 2004, with total sales of $317 million, followed by Gillette at $212.2 million. The acquisition will enable P&G to bring its female brands together with Gillette’s male brands, allowing the company to reach both sexes.

Secret & Olay Conditioners offers women moisturizing benefits.

“Many of Gillette’s products already compete for shelf space with P&G’s products, particularly in the deodorant and oral care sectors,” said Alexandra Richmond, global news analyst for Euromonitor. “The two companies have, however, targeted different areas of the markets, with Gillette’s focus on men’s deodorants such as Right Guard and Gillette Series and P&G tending to focus on women’s brands including Secret.”

But anti-trust rulings may force P&G and Gillette to divest brands in sectors where they overlap to reduce the combined share of the market, commented Ms. Richmond.

“Smaller brands are likely to be sold off; Colgate-Palmolive might try and pick up any cast-offs to boost its declining market share in the sector. Gillette might choose a brand such as Natrel to divest as a result of its decline in the UK,” suggested Ms. Richmond.

Globally, Unilever holds the top spot in the AP/Deo segment with a 28% share of value sales, according to Euromonitor. P&G is currently a distant second and Gillette is in fourth place. The acquisition will close the gap between P&G and Unilever, but it will not be enough to exceed Unilever’s share of value sales, according to Ms. Richmond.

“While P&G will not become No. 1 in the global sector, the acquisition is expected to strengthen the manufacturer’s bargaining position with the likes of Wal-Mart and could instigate a price war,” said Ms. Richmond, adding that such competition is likely to have the greatest impact on Unilever, Beiersdorf and Colgate-Palmolive.

Degree Takes the No. 1 Spot
Unilever’s Degree moved into first place in the AP/Deo category last year. Here is a list of the leading AP/Deo brands for the year ended Dec. 26, 2004. All dollar figures are in millions.
Company $ Sales % Change $ Share
Degree 69.7 2.1 6.4
Secret Platinum 66.6 30.1 6.1
Mennen Speed Stick 64.2 -12.1 5.9
Right Guard Sport 60.2 -7.2 5.5
Old Spice High Endurance 56.6 -10.6 5.2
Dove 55.9 -1.6 5.1
Secret Sheer Dry 40.2 -10.7 3.7
Secret 39.4 -6.0 3.6
Mitchum 35.7 -10.1 3.3
Ban 34.3 -3.1 3.1
Category Total 1.09 billion 0.3 100
Source: Information Resources, Inc. (IRI), Chicago.
Wal-Mart sales are not included.

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Just For Him
Marketers are taking advantage of every opportunity to remind men how manly they are, experts told Happi. From the names of products’ scents to advertising campaigns, the message is clear: this product will make you feel masculine.

Degree is hoping to hold on to its top spot with the launch of Degree For Men, which arrived in stores last month. The line comprises Ultra Clear Degree deodorant in stick or gel and Ultra Dry Degree antiperspirant in stick, soft solid or aerosol. Degree For Men features what the company calls Body Responsive technology, which uses fragrances specially designed to mask stress-related malodor.

“Research has shown that every man has different demands when it comes to underarm protection,” said Heather Kesler, brand manager for Degree. “Some men look for superb odor protection and others look for great fragrances. That’s why Degree For Men offers options.”

The accompanying advertising campaign, launched during the Superbowl, challenges men to become risk takers by making fun of non-risk takers through the non-adventures of the In-Action Heroes. The In-Action Heroes—The Wuss, The Suck-Up and Mama’s Boy—“fight the forces of stress by avoiding risk all together.” According to Ms. Kesler, this is just the beginning of a huge launch that will continue throughout the year geared toward men. The company is advertising at the NCAA Men’s tournament this month and will also be online at websites that men typically like to visit such as ESPN.com and ComedyCentral.- com. Degree For Men is also the official sponsor of the World Series of Poker.

Last year, Old Spice Red Zone added two new products to its lineup—Invisible solid and Invisible stick. Both feature Red Zone’s Core technology, which slows the evaporation rate with a controlled release system, providing scents that last, according to company executives. In addition to the most popular Old Spice scent—Pure Sport—the products are available in Metallic Ice (a spicy scent), Aqua Reef (a citrus aroma) and Glacial Falls (a revitalizing scent).

The introduction of these products is part of the rapid expansion of the Red Zone line after it was first introduced as a soft solid antiperspirant in 2000. According to Ms. Richmond of Euromonitor, Old Spice has done a good job re-branding itself into a name that appeals to young men.

“The fact that young Americans were unaware of the associations with their grandfathers means that Old Spice had an unsuspecting market to re-launch into,” she said.

Right Guard Cool Spray offers men an innovative way to apply deodorant.

Gillette introduced Right Guard Cool spray in July 2004, offering men a new way to apply deodorant. Cool Spray features an innovative side-trigger and vertical spray to deliver the time-released fragrance. The side trigger activates the spray from the top of the can. It also features a locking device to prevent it from dispensing the product, which is ideal for the man on the go, according to executives.

Just For Her
Marketers have realized that one of the major challenges women face when it comes to underarm skin is irritation caused by shaving. To address this issue, they are offering products that emphasize added moisturizers—along with wetness and odor protection—to keep underarm skin soft and reduce irritation from shaving.

In September, P&G introduced Secret Platinum & Olay Conditioners, which contains a combination of conditioners and pro-vitamins said to noticeably improve the look and feel of underarm skin over time. According to company executives, after one week of use women begin to experience a smoother shave, and within two weeks underarm skin feels deeply conditioned and renewed.

“We strive to provide the best protection technology in forms that our consumers prefer,” commented Michelle Vaeth, communications director for Secret. “Both trial and consumer excite- ment about new Secret Platinum & Olay’s benefits have been huge. We are very pleased to have introduced a new Secret product that has resonated so well with consumers.”

Secret Platinum & Olay Conditioners is available in both soft solid and invisible solid forms.

Soft & Dri from Gillette underwent a makeover last year and re-emerged with a new formula, fresh scents and new pink and black packaging. New Soft & Dri Dermastripe is an invisible solid featuring skin-nourishing ingredients such as lavender and vitamin E to help nourish, soothe and protect the skin while providing odor and wetness control.

Unilever’s Dove line of antiperspirants, which was introduced in 1999, has been offering moisturizing properties for delicate underarm skin since its launch. In February, Dove extended its line with the introduction of Radiant Silk—a classic Oriental scent infused with floral and fruity aromas. Like the other antiperspirants in the line, it contains silk powder and 1/4-cup moisturizing lotion to care for delicate underarm skin that is revealed by shaving.

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Secret Body Sprays were created in response to consumer demand, executives said.

The Total Body Experience
Once targeted to women, marketers are now offering body sprays and body washes just for men. According to Will Cobbins, research analyst, North America, Euromonitor, these brands are doing a good job reaching teen boys and younger men, who are less likely to view such items as feminine and have already adopted higher-maintenance grooming regimens.

“For these guys, there is nothing ‘girly’ about wanting to look and smell their best, and the proliferation of body sprays in the last couple of years is evidence of this,” commented Mr. Cobbins. “Brands like Axe and Old Spice Red Zone are especially well-positioned to extend into product segments that in the past have targeted women.”

Last July, Old Spice Red Zone launched a body wash for men featuring a proprietary 8-hour scent technology available in two scents—Aqua Reef and Glacial Falls. According to a study conducted by Old Spice, nearly 30% of male consumers now prefer and use body wash because of the rich lather and clean-rinsing properties.

“Based on the increasing popularity of body wash with guys, it made perfect sense to expand our Red Zone line to include a body wash,” said David Palmer, brand manager for Old Spice, personal cleaning.

Introduced in August, Old Spice Body Spray features the company’s Core technology. According to executives, other body sprays dramatically lose effectiveness halfway through the day because the fragrance wears off due to evaporation, but Red Zone Body spray lasts all day and night.

Boston-based Tag Fragrance Company launched a new line of body sprays for men in January. Available in four scents, each product is designed around what company executives at Tag describe as “key moments in any guy’s social life,” with names such as Lucky Day, First Move, Mid-night and After Hours.

Targeted toward teen girls, Secret introduced the Secret Body Spray collection in February. The sprays are available in the same four scents as the company’s Sparkle collection—Vanilla Sparkle, Moonlit Rose, Tropical Radiance and Peach Shimmer.

“The development of the Secret Body Spray collection is a great example of how Secret listens to consumers,” said Ms. Vaeth from Secret. “When we introduced Secret Sparkle, we heard a message loud and clear from our consumers. Not only did they love Sparkle, they especially loved the Sparkle scents. Consumers wanted another way to build those scents into their beauty regimen.”

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Ban’s reformulation offers women 24-hour protection.

Remaking of a Brand
Kao Corporation’s Ban is the No. 10 brand, according to IRI. But sales slipped 3% to $34.3 million in 2004, which led Kao to phase out both of its sub-brands, Beautifully Smooth and Classic.

“With a brand of our scale, it made more sense to have every marketing dollar focused against all of the business, rather than supporting multiple sub-brands,” commented PK Katien, senior brand manager of Ban.

In February the company introduced Ban Intensely Fresh, which offers 24-hour odor protection with higher intensity fragrances. The new Ban formula contains phellodendron amurense bark extract (PABE), a botanical that works to inhibit bacteria from releasing components of apocrine sweat from carrier protein, eliminating odor before it even occurs, according to company executives.

“PABE, also known as corktree bark extract, is known to have a specific enzymatic inhibitory effect and can therefore short-circuit the cycle that causes a specific type of underarm odor,” explained Mr. Katien.

The new formula was developed to significantly improve odor protection, and it includes the maximum antiperspirant salt allowed under the monograph to tackle wetness, as well. In addition to the reformulation, the Ban brand also features new packaging designed to help make it easier for consumers to choose Ban.

“The new packaging really breaks through the clutter of 500 to 600 facings in a typical retail shelf set,” said Mr. Katien. “The new design will improve our consumers’ shopping experience in two ways. First, the package color and the very distinctive and easy to read logo make it very easy to find Ban on the shelf. Second, by dialing up the size and presence of our fragrance descriptions, it will be significantly easier to choose from within the available fragrances. These two areas address a key frustration for consumers.”

Old Spice Red Zone Body wash boasts 8-hour scent technology.

The Next Step for AP/Deos
With their marketing plans set in the U.S. and Western Europe, manufacturers are beginning to look elsewhere for growth. Eastern Europe, Africa and the Middle East are expected to experience the fastest growth rates in the near term, while Eastern Europe is expected to have one of the largest value gains in the sector through 2008, according to Euromonitor.

In the U.S., marketers told Happi that products aimed at teens—particularly teen boys—will continue to grow.

“I would not be surprised to see other companies launching new sub-brands—or extending existing ones—into new grooming products targeting younger male shoppers,” said Mr. Cobbins of Euromonitor.

In addition to the acquisition of Gillette, P&G has big plans for 2005, although company executives won’t go into specific details just yet.

“Secret is very excited to be introducing a product that we believe our consumers—especially our Hispanic consumers—will love,” said Ms. Vaeth.
“We’ve been working closely with U.S. Hispanic women to better understand their unique deodorant needs and preferences. We are delighted to share that we will be introducing this new product in 2005.”


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