From sensational to functional - the shift in the deodorant industry

With a total market size of about Rs 2200 crore, men’s deodorant category is witnessing a change in communication strategy with new entrants in the market

by Gunjan Verma
Published - May 26, 2014 7:45 AM Updated: May 26, 2014 7:45 AM
From sensational to functional - the shift in the deodorant industry

Urban consumers who are well-aware of the use of deodorants have started looking for secondary benefits from their deodorants, such as anti-perspirant, underarm skin whitening and alcohol-free. To tap into the growing needs of urban consumers, new entrants like Fogg and Engage have hit the right chord with the consumers. Fogg has touched 0.5 per cent to 10.5 per cent market share in two years. It clearly dented the market share of Axe that was leading the market. The story is simple: clear product innovation to fill the gap, clear advertising communication and a clear win.

While Axe has been the market leader in this category for very long, recently new entrants have cluttered the market with similar looking ads and products. Amidst this, Fogg made a clutter breaking entry with a clear message of ‘800 sprays in one bottle’ and grabbed the attention of the consumers who saw the functional benefit as a unique offering.

“Fogg is a format innovation and is the only brand talking utility and value in an imagery driven category,” said Sunil Gadgil, Director – Marketing, NIVEA India. At number six position, NIVEA believes that NIVEA Men Deodorants have been successful in carving a space for itself by promising day long freshness. NIVEA has worked majorly with popular Bollywood personalities to communicate its proposition, on which Sunil Gadgil comments, “Working with known faces helps break the clutter and build brand values, which reflect NIVEA Men's positioning of “It Starts With You.”

Deodorant market in India for men is much bigger than women. The size ratio is 3:1. Total market size is about Rs 2200 crore that grew by 16 per cent last year and is hopeful to witness a double digit growth this year also. But, till date, the communication strategy has always been the same – highlighting the sex appeal. “Globally, fragrances always talk about attraction that it creates around you. But the difference lies in how does one goes about communicating that message. 

“Axe dimensionalizes that by absolute youthful approach and the perception of the brand that they have built up so far is about comical young approach – the humorous angle to attraction. Whereas, our brand positioning is all about ‘attraction in mind’ and thus we have shot almost all our ads in outdoor settings and public places;communicating that the fragrance is going to be there with you throughout the day,” said Sanjoy Sen, COO, McNroe Consumer Products Pvt Ltd (Wild Stone deodorants).

The product packaging and advertising for all deodorant brands looks the same. The category experiences brand flirting and thus needs long lasting communication to connect with its consumers. The industry is mainly dominated by strong fragrances because people think strong fragrances stay longer. This category faces three types of consumers - loyalists and semi-loyalists and then there are ‘hunter’ consumers. The bulk consumers belong to the segment of loyalists and semi-loyalists consumers who like to experiment with new fragrances and packaging. ITC Engage deodorant created its own space through advertising innovation with a unisex appeal.

“Engage is a brand that we created in ten months in the highly cluttered market. Every brand in this category rides on a one-way street that is unbashed attraction. Enagage created a space of playful chemistry and equality between a man and a woman. As a brand, you need to effectively retain the high points of your proposition and yet create a successful business proposition,” said Nilanjan Mukherjee, Head – Marketing (Personal Care), ITC.

Bhupendra Raikar, General Manager, Marketing, VEMB Retail (Rover deodorants) commented, “Indian males predominantly have a typical male chauvinist mindset. We wanted to take a new brand pitch and move away from the stereotypical chic magnet route that most deodorants are striding on currently. Hence, the new image driven tribe is where we feel Rover’s playground lies and taking this into consideration, we aim to break the cluttered market with our innovative marketing strategies.”

Our Take: All deodorant brands still look the same and talk the same. It is time to understand that the consumers are smart enough to know what they want to spend their money on. The prime requirements for a deodorant are: long-lasting, anti-perspirant, strong fragrance and value for money and if a consumer does not get that in the brand he trusts, he is willing to change. Only a strong innovation or communication can build a strong market, irrespective of the pedigree of the brand.

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