Lesson 1, the product name. Readers of my column know that product name is the No. 1 passport to both immediate and long term success. No news there, but why do so many marketers miss that point? Here you have a positioning concept which creates a new and good twist on the burgeoning healthy-hair segment of the hair category—specific vitamins presented as stars for each of the seven products: Hydrating (noni berry and lemongrass), Nutritional (acai berry and guava), Smoothing (mangosteen and yogurt), Healing (gogi berry and green tea), Rejuvenating (blueberry and avocado), Renewing (pomegranate and blackberry) and Energizing (dragonfruit and kiwi).
Most often, product entries come into established categories. In the rare case where you have something new, the key objective is to select a name that positions and names the category—a category that you can own forever! So what name was selected? A generic one, Vitamin Shampoo. The copy is huge and dominates the package design, but it is one that CVS or any retailer would use for its own private label brand. As an aside, I checked Wal-Mart, CVS, Meijer (all mentioned in the ad) and Rite-Aid to establish the retail price, as well as to determine what the actual package looked like. Note that there is a vast difference between the package in the ad that appeared in the October issue of Allure (left), and the one shown on the website (below).
Even though the October issue of Allure was already in consumers’ hands by September, not one retailer mentioned in the ad had the merchandise.
Yes, vitamins are not new, but when the new products are all about vitamins and their benefits, shout it out with a proprietary name. Make all the others obsolete! Pretty good scores in the Product and Positioning segments were negated by the lack of a news-making/dramatic name.
I tried to find out the name of the company, but there was no mention anywhere in the ad or website. Even the “contact us” area just had the spaces for the inquirer, not a word about the company. That’s quite odd. Some detective work uncovered that the manufacturer is Vogue International. Only on that website do you discover that Vogue also makes Organix, FXEffects, and iWater. Consumers like to know who the company is, and what authority it has. Vitamin Shampoo uses the authority of vitamins very well, but in a very competitive category, the more authority you have, the better; it certainly contributes mightily to trust and permission-to-believe. Vogue’s Organix is a very good name—Vitamin Shampoo just doesn’t do it.
Consumers do not buy shampoo for ingredients alone. They must know about specific benefits for hair types in order to select the best one for their needs. Nor are shampoos like drinks that you buy for taste, or body products that you purchase for fragrance appeal. They are bought for specific hair benefits.
The lack of “what’s in it for me” benefit positioning brought down the score for Consumer Appeal. Since Competition and Marketing Potential are always challenging segments of the audit, you need strong scores in the others to come up with a winning total number.
theAdAudit performance was powerful for Headline and Visual Appeal, but the virtually unreadable copy on the package and ad do nothing to tell consumers what specific hair needs these shampoos would satisfy. It is all, and only, about the goodness of the ingredients it has, and what it doesn’t; i.e., sulfates and parabens.
Taken from the headline, “Think of it as an energy drink for your hair,” the positioning has a new and interesting slant—but they do not link “energy” to differentiating performance benefits.
In sum, they have the “borrowed authority” of vitamins, plus good for you (yoga visual), without providing that permission-to-believe. A lesson learned many years ago, “Each new product introduction is like a gigantic net—so you must catch as many consumers as you can with your first throw.”
Therefore, answer all the most important consumer questions with your first shot; i.e., don’t be so singularly focused that you lose sight of what they need, and want to know.