“Raise your hand if you're Sure" is surely on the list of the most memorable ad campaigns in the HBA market. Who can forget those confident men and women—the traffic cop, the golfer, the bridesmaid, lifting their arms high as they safely waved drivers through the intersection, chipped in from the bunker and caught that bridal bouquet—all without even a hint of underarm perspiration leaking through?
That 1980s ad campaign hit home with consumers who looked to Sure—which came to market in 1973 as a unisex product—for their antiperspirant and deodorant needs.
Back then, Sure was part of Procter & Gamble’s stable. But the Cincinnati CPG giant sold off the range in 2006 to Innovative Brands. At the time, Sure’s sales were in the area of $70 million, according to industry estimates.
But the idea of a unisex deodorant seems to have lost favor among consumers, who now gravitate toward products with scents that clearly skew to one sex or the other.
According to SymphonyIRI Group, sales of Sure deodorants were $35.1 million in supermarkets, drug stores, mass-market retailers, military commissaries and select club and dollar retail chains for the 52 weeks ending Feb. 24, 2013.
But Sure’s newest owner, Idelle Labs, is set on shoring up the AP/deodorant line.
Idelle Labs has been parent to Sure since Spring 2010, when Innovative Brands sold it to Helen of Troy Limited. As a subsidiary of Helen of Troy, Idelle handles Sure as well as Final Net hair spray, Brut men’s products and Sea Breeze skin care.
Idelle’s “staggered customer approach” to relaunch the Sure range started with new packaging.
Officials describe the new look as sleek, modern and feminine—and designed to appeal to women, which already account for the majority of its customer base. According to Idelle, the split between women and men is 70/30.
“In an attempt to further connect with our female consumer and source new female users, we've redesigned the packaging to create a more feminine look,” said Rick Cutler, director of marketing. “The new design features an infinity band which coveys Sure’s message of continuous protection that lasts all day.”
In addition, softer shades of purple, pink, blue, green and orange are used to differentiate the scents.
“The revamped symbolis more feminine than the circular image we used on our previous packaging,” said Cutler. “The overall design, including the new purple, curved cap offers a proprietary look which is sleek, feminine and modern, providing ‘skin care’ cues.”
Sure’s message centers on all-day protection with lighter fragrance loads that won’t compete with other products, like perfumes and body lotion. The Sure user, according to Idelle, wants to put on her deodorant and forget about it.
The mass channel, with the exception of Kmart, was stocked with the new packs at the start of the year. The refreshed SKUs were then rolled out to all drug and food accounts in February. The last redesign for the brand was in 2008.
“The intent of the re-stageis to cater to our current demographic and source new female users. We have found that the Sure consumer is very loyal, which is why we have redesigned the packaging, but havemaintainedthe classic formulas,” said Cutler.
In addition to keeping the classics, Idelle has rolled out Conditioning Solids, in “an effort to draw new consumers to the brand,” said Cutler. There are two variants: Vitamin Infusion with Vitamin A & E and Pure Essence with Aloe Extracts.
Both are said to reduce skin irritation and smooth rough spots, and they bring Sure in line with the skin care story that’s growing ever more prevalent in the sector.