When Philips Norelco looked at new product opportunities in the very crowded men’s shaving category, it looked at shaving everything but the face.
The resulting product, the Philips Norelco Bodygroomer, offered up a major marketing challenge; how best to pitch the new product—and a very sensitive topic—to its target, 25- to 45-year-old men. The solution? A humorous word-of-mouth campaign to generate buzz and sales.
“I feel very comfortable talking about this, but most of our consumers don’t,” said Zdenek C. Kratky, brand manager, shaving and beauty, Philips DAP North America, at a session yesterday on word-of-mouth marketing.
With a limited budget—less than $1 million—a campaign called Shave Everywhere included a humorous video on a dedicated Web site as the central component. The effort had three goals: to generate awareness and achieve sales goals, to generate word-of-mouth buzz and to quantify and measure the effect and look at the return on investment.
At the site, ShaveEverywhere.com, the video opens with a clean-cut looking man standing in a white bathrobe against a plain white background. He begins to talk up the benefits of shaving below the neck as he refers to the shaver, which is perched upon a white pedestal on a satin pillow. As he talks about specific body parts the words gets bleeped out, but images appear in their place—for example, a carrot and two kiwis (you get the picture). A “tell a friend” link at the bottom lets visitors pass the video along. A “buy now” button drive sales.
The video proved a huge success. The first week of the launch of ShaveEverywhere.com drew 313,675 unique visitors. By week two that number rose to 613,632 and year-to-date the site has received more than 1.7 million visits. The pass-along rate for the video was 31% and the propensity to pass it along reached 47%. Sales of the product reached 300% over an already “lofty” goal, Kratky said.
Buzz about the video and the new product were featured on more than 500 blogs. The product was one of the most successful launches for Amazon.com and became the No. 3 best selling SKU in men’s grooming at Target, Kratky said.
Early on, the launch team had evaluated two options: traditional media (integrating print, p.r. and online efforts) or a viral campaign. When the concept of the video materialized with help from its agency, Tribal, it wasn’t an easy sell.
“We had a lot of pushback, was this right for the brand?” Kratky said. “[But] we knew that the media spin alone wasn’t going to get us what we wanted.”
Reliance on the consumer research and pre-testing helped push the idea through to reality.
“That’s where the miracle happened,” Kratky said of the consumer research, “when you spend more time with the consumer than you do in the conference room.”
For some brands, however, word-of-mouth has been known to backfire.
“Don’t underestimate the power of negative word-of-mouth,” said Gary F. Spangler, e-business leader, DuPont Electronic & Communication Technologies, Dupont. “You can be surprised by that as a brand.”
To counteract negative comments, Spangler suggested creating Web site content that addresses those conversations or initiate a search engine marketing effort that invites visitors to your site so they too can view both sides of the conversations. He said it’s important to add a voice to the conversation and to offer options for visitors. Spangler also suggested adopting the Word of Mouth Marketing Association’s code of ethics, which are available at WOMMA.org.
“You can’t just rely on an ad agency to keep you out of trouble,” Spangler said.