Rethinking Marketing Strategies for Increased Efficacy
Personal hygiene products are a very sensitive issue no matter for what gender or for what age. Nonetheless, everyone needs personal hygiene whether or not they actually practice it. Therefore, there is a strong and persistent need for these kinds of products. Marketing personal hygiene products is not easy territory through which to navigate. It is important to alert consumers to the presence and characteristics of the product, but set within the wrong context, the advertising for these products can put people off, embarrass them, or disinterest them. For example, currently, AllWays markets its line of products primarily with televised commercials and print advertisements. The content of which usually includes showing the product inside the packaging as well as outside of the wrapper. Though women want to know how and where the product will work for them, showing blue liquid pouring into an absorbent maxi-pad with fluttering wings is not effective. Consumers do not want to watch these commercials. The imagery is too along the lines of the actual experience, which is painful, unsightly, and emotional for women as well as the men in their lives. By studying, adapting, and subsequently implementing effective techniques from other industries and other countries, AllWays could reach more customers and take a firmer hold on their area of the market.
In America over the past two decades approximately, there has been a dramatic and sharp increase in the number of advertisements for prescription and over the counter pharmaceuticals. The pharmaceutical industry has boomed. Certainly the success in this industry has to do with the quality of the products as well as the demand for the products, but the advertising cannot be ignored with regard to the success of any product. For the purposes of this example, the paper will focus on the visual content of these ads and not so much on the written or auditory elements. In many print and more so in television ads for these drugs, viewers do not often seen the product itself or if seen, it is not onscreen for more than a few seconds. What the ads show is the typical consumer of this product. The commercial often shows this person's lifestyle and then shows how their medical condition interferes or otherwise impedes the fictional consumer from living the lifestyle of their choice. Then the remainder of the commercial is often what happens to the person after the integration of the drug into their regimen. Visually and graphically, such advertisements are more affective than informational. Truly motivated and interested consumers will ask their doctors for further information or perform product research independently. The priority, from the visual perspective, is a more associative strategy rather than a literal strategy, which is a strategy most ads in the United States take.
In other countries such as Japan, a greater proportion of advertisements, particularly visual ones shown on television and present on the Internet, are more associative. Whereas in the United States, viewers are often bombarded with a barrage of information, facts, and statistics about the product being advertised, in Japan, viewers will often never see the product within the commercial. The content of the commercial, the visual and audio components, do not have anything to do with the product directly. For example, in the early 2000's, Toyota released a series of commercials in Japan with families, couples, and sometimes individuals out in the world, typically a natural setting, enjoying each other's company. A family has a picnic in the woods on a sunny day while a gospel choir sings a joyous song to them. Never did any information about cars appear on the screen. Never was there a mention of cars. No cars appeared on the screen over the course of these ads. The consumer/viewer is distracted by the affective tone of the ad and the emotional or psychological states of the characters in the ad. When the ads concluded, the screen faded to black and the Toyota logo appeared for a few seconds while a voice narrated a single word, "Toyota." Consumers associate Toyota with the feelings of the actors in the commercial.
After viewing, consumers infer that the family or group of friends or whomever reached their destination via a Toyota; it is unnecessary to show or describe the Toyota in order for this thought to occur within the minds of the viewers. Consumers can moreover infer that if the family with small children, or a group of beloved friends, or a couple in love reached their remote destination safely and comfortably, it had to be because of the quality of their Toyota vehicle. This is one example of a strategy practiced by many companies across various industries. This is not to say that Toyota does not make commercials with cars in them and with voiceovers stating vital or interesting information about the cars. This is only an example of an effective alternate strategy that works in conjunction with traditional methods.
Consider AllWays adapting more associate and indirect methods for their line of products. We might see a woman, or perhaps three women of various ages, yet all within the company's target demographic. There is pleasant song or upbeat song playing underneath the imagery. We see women going through their days, performing various activities and actions that women feel self-conscious about during that time such as bending over, wearing white, swimming, laughing, sneezing, wearing formal or sexy apparel out on the town, sleeping in odd positions, and more. We see these women simply enjoying themselves. Consumers might not even know what the ad is for or about, but that alone reels them in. People begin to watch a television show or movie with which they are unfamiliar until they have watched long enough to get the gist of the program. If we consider commercials as mini-narratives, as many filmmakers and media producers do, the same strategies can work and the same consumer behaviors will likely be mimicked. As the conclusion of the ad approaches, consumers still may only have a hint of what the commercial's topic is. The ad concludes like the Japanese Toyota ads: a fade to black and a short voice over that says the name of the company and perhaps also the company's slogan -- the end. Female consumers are more likely to buy the product because they see how women can live their lives normally because of the product during this time. Male viewers will not be as repulsed, frightened, or disinterested because there is no graphic display of the product and its capabilities.
Researching and lifting strategies from others is an effective strategy in of itself. There are greater opportunities to learn from each other and profit during the 21st century in large part because of the Internet.
While the growth of the Japanese cigarette market was a multifactor process, we found that television advertising played a central role in opening the Japanese market in three ways. First, it allowed foreign brands (which collectively represented only 3.9% of the Japanese market in 19866) to appear more popular than they were and thus appeal to established smokers of Japanese brands. Second, television advertising attracted young people, who were the key to future growth and were more interested in foreign brands. Third, television advertisements allowed Philip Morris to create aspirational smoking role models using actors who were, or resembled, famous Hollywood action heroes…resulting in an immediate and dramatic rise in U.S. cigarette imports from 9.9 billion cigarettes in 1986 to 32 billion in 1987.4 -- 7 During the next 10 years, Japan became (and remains) the leading destination for U.S. cigarette exports, with a 2002 volume of 78 billion cigarettes (61% of total U.S. cigarette exports). (Lambert et al., Philip Morris, 2004)