Pantene/Walgreens collaboration to increase sales of Pantene SKUs

In 2013, more than 300 new haircare products were introduced in the U.S. and Pantene was struggling to stay relevant. Consumers were quick to switch to competition and the brand’s key retail partner, Walgreens, was losing confidence. Pantene needed to turn around brand performance at Walgreens to retain distribution, and increase penetration and retention without needed to develop new products under the Pantene brand.

Pantene’s target consumers were women in their late 30s to mid 40s who ‘enjoyed the confidence’ when they looked good. Pantene knew that one of the triggers for shopping for hair care is a ‘bad hair day’ caused by changes in humidity.

As neither women nor Pantene could influence weather, Pantene collaborated with Walgreens to provide daily ‘haircasts’ for women, telling them what to expect of their hair everyday, which Pantene product could help and which nearest Walgreens had it in stock. The daily haircasts were based on forecast humidity levels every day. Pantene and Walgreens used a multi channel approach for this campaign, leveraging social media, digital, mobile and in-store marketing.

Just by tracking humidity levels and making relevant recommendations to manage hair during days with high/medium/low humidity and ensuring that the closest Walgreens always had the relevant products in stock, Pantene was able to successfully out-compete the 300 other new brands and products that had been taking share from Pantene and achieved:

  • a 7% decline in sales vs prior year to a 24% increase in sales vs prior year
  • 10% uplift in sales vs plan for the year

In addition, Walgreens experienced an additional 4% uplift in sales for their haircare category as a whole.

If you are interested in learning more, Mobile Marketing Association has published a case study on this.

Proposition – A ‘P’ added by Unilever’s framework

A proposition emphasises the USP of any product. Crafting a simple, focused and clear winning proposition can be complex and time taking.

A framework to derive your brand’s USP

Consequently, marketers and sales teams strive to extract learnings from the past, and drive bigger and better innovations for the future. A successfully crafted proposition creates an imprint in the target consumers’ minds to the point that they think of the brand synonymously with the product. Example: The brand, Vaseline and the product, petrolatum, Sharpies and permanent markers, Band-Aid and adhesive bandages…

Chapstick and lip balm

The USP may be product purity, awards associated with the product, value for money, a cause that it stands for etc.

For some brands, it involves creating a narrative around the product. Its aim could be to educate the shopper, to awaken an emotional response or a call to support a mission driven cause. Eg: Tony’s Chocolonely, whose mission is a 100% slave free chocolate.

Most companies focus such propositions on their star brands and SKUs. This way, the benefits of customer loyalty and sales could even extend to different, newer versions of the same product resulting in a sales boost of the overall product category.

How do you communicate your value proposition?

These days, the proposition is most commonly communicated on e-commerce sites, whether that is the retailer’s site or one that is direct to consumer.

In store, proposition is often communication through shelf barkers/talkers. Gondola end displays are used as well. 

Stocking hero SKUs near or at check-out counters is another way to augment brand visibility and communicate proposition.

Crafting succesful propositions

So what are the elements of great value propositions? We have 5 for you to consider.

  1. The rule of 3: Propositions that sell more than three benefits often fail as consumers and shoppers fail to see the key benefit. Also, consumers/shoppers start questioning the assertions of the proposition and consequently trust the brand less.
  2. Emotional or mission driven appeal vs functional benefits: Focussing on a brand’s functional benefits commoditises the product and makes it easier for consumers to switch brands. To maintain share and to encourage more consumers to buy your brand, focus on the emotional or mission driven aspects of the proposition. Mission driven brands have been shown to retain market share even in the most challenging of circumstances.
  3. Include consumer and shopper benefits: Often times, the shopper is different from the consumer. For example, when parents go shopping for breakfast cereal for their children or when a woman buys shaving products for her male partner or when a man buys feminine care products for his female partner. It is key for the proposition to appeal as much to the shopper as the consumer.
  4. Sustainable differentiation: Ensure that your proposition remains relevant for the long term as well as the short. If your point of differentiation focusses on the problems of today and is not expected to be relevant beyond a certain period, your brand is likely to lose appeal beyond that period.
  5. The value proposition for your customers (for those brands that are not just D2C): The above 4 elements are often well thought through as a part of the organisation’s marketing and innovation process. However the value proposition for the customer is less thought through and often purely financial in nature. An effective customer value proposition combines both financial and emotional considerations and is often laid out when the customer is evaluating a brand or a SKU for listing at stores.

If you’d like to learn more about crafting successful value propositions for your brands, email me on veena@salesbeat.co