Axe Signature

A good example of using marketing concepts to tackle falling market share is provided Axe.

History:

Axe started losing market share around 2 years ago when Fogg[1] first appeared on the scene. Fogg by Vini Chemicals- which positioned itself directly against the gas-deodorant Axe- created a segment in between the deodorant and the perfume segments. The liquid nature of the efflux gave consumers an impression that less quantity of Fogg could be used to achieve the same results as Axe. Fogg was also backed by a strong distribution system. Further, the special nozzle of Axe was perceived to be susceptible to breaking and by sticking to a basic design, Fogg alleviated this psychological cost for the customer as well. Axe was positioned as a teenager’s deo to “Get Girls”. Fogg also targeted the same segment but with a different need – economy. The “sexiness” proposition of Axe in the slightly older male segment was quickly appropriated by Wild Stone and Axe was soon left stranded in the market place – by this we mean, dropped to third in market share –not a place which HUL would have liked to be in.

Back to the Basics

To win in this market place, Axe needed the following

  1. A revaluation of the Target Group (TG)
  2. Remove Points of Differentiation of the competition
  3. Increase value to customer
  4. Increase usage of Axe
    1. Increase usage frequency
    2. Increase usage occasions
    3. Revaluation of TG

Axe needed to shift their user image away from the scrawny clueless teenage boy who got girls using Axe to something more refined. Why? With the power of hindsight, one could argue that the user image shown by Axe in its ads was not a very generous. In this segment, maybe the self-image of the target segment changed from being a needy teenager to a more confident young male who needed deo to supplement an already existing persona. Other successful ads such as the Nivea ads[2], the Fogg ads[3] and the Wild Stone ads seem to suggest this.

In a way the “Get Girls” position has almost been reduced to a hygiene factor in the deo industry today. “Confidence in oneself” seems to be the new catchphrase. But can Axe abandon the TG it had been espousing so far? Probably not, hence, it needed to come back in a new avatar- the Axe Signature for the recalibrated TG definition.

  1. Remove Points of Differentiation

The packaging and advertisement design are strikingly similar to “Fogg Black” signalling an attempt at making these a point of parity and then leveraging Axe’s brand equity with the customer to drive sales (A customer looking at both Fogg black and Axe Signature with similar packaging and advertisement may prefer Axe simply because it is a bigger and better known brand)

  1. Increase value to Customer

The fact that the target segment of deos implicitly looks at economy is hinted at in the Fogg ad. {The protagonist in the ad asks – Kitna Chalega} But Axe, we believe, has correctly identified that it is not economy but Value that the customer looks at.

Value= Benefit received/Price Paid

Whereas Fogg proclaimed its value to be that the bottle of deo lasted longer, an allied but hidden need was that the deo itself, once applied, needs to last longer. This might be a more pressing need to the customer and this value proposition could be an entry point. Hence the “Don’t Fade Away” proposition of Axe Signature.

  1. Increase usage of Axe

On the other hand, deo which does not last long after being applied could be combated by simply  increasing the usage frequency and introducing new occasions of use for the deo. But a customer could not reasonably be expected to carry deo around. Well not in its current form anyway. Hence, the Axe Bullet- a mini pocket version – currently offered for free with Axe. If customers change their behaviour to actually find it useful to carry around, Axe may go ahead with it as a product line in itself. In the Axe bullet ads however, the character portrayed is closer to the original Axe Guy – a kind of nice, helpless idiot for whom things go constantly wrong. This signals that Axe understands that as a brand, it cannot overnight run away from its scrawny teenager heritage.

[1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AnWOmfcu2n4

[2] Nivea ad – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kMpBm6tbBD0

[3] Fogg ad – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fULAnbc8fhY

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