Unilever VP Piyush Jain Talks AXE, Hair and Influencers

Posted on by Patty Odell

Just take a look at Rudy Mancuso’s lofty froth of pompadour hair—and his 1.8 million YouTube subscribers—and you’ll understand why Axe Hair partnered with the social sensation as an influencer to promote its men’s hair styling products.

Mancuso is one of 30 digital influencers that created and pumped out content last month with a message to guys that styling is not over-complicated and can be a simple skill once they settle on a look.

The influencers, known as the Axe Hair Creators, cross a range of lifestyles of interest to Axe Hair’s target demographic—sports, music, epicurean, gaming, technology and comedy. Each day during March, a different influencer took over the Axe Instagram page to answer guys’ styling questions and explain why everyday styling is important. Other influencers include Josh Peck, Josh Elkin, Anthony Padilla and Brodie Smith.

A digital content hub, Instagroom.com/StyleHacks, features a three-step quiz for guys to figure out what style might be best for their hair type and offer video hacks on how to get it done.

Piyush Jain
Piyush Jain

Piyush Jain, vice president of Haircare at Unilever, talks influencer marketing, finding the right match, measuring the effects and wrangling 30 social media stars.

CM: What is the goal of the program?
JAIN: To most guys, styling seems over-complicated, and they don’t want their friends to judge them for “trying too hard.” We are setting out to that prove not only can every day styling can be easy, but that it can impact your confidence and make you more interesting. We believe there is no one better to help us spread the message about how easy, yet rewarding, daily styling can be than the 30 AXE Hair Creators who guys are already following and looking up to.

CM: What is your opinion of influencers as a marketing strategy?
JAIN: While our brands have been working with influencers for years (celebrities, social media stars, stylists), we’ve learned today’s 18-24 year old guy trusts influencers more than brands—and specifically those influencers that are in his top areas of interest.

CM: How do you select influencers?
JAIN: They were selected not only because they have great, relatable style, but also because they have unique talents within the areas guys are most passionate about.

CM: How do you measure the impact of these partnerships?
JAIN: One of our key objectives with this campaign is to change guys’ perception about daily hair styling. Success is progress against breaking down the barriers that are currently keeping guys from styling every day. We will not only look at quantitative measurements such as how the influencers’ content performed, but we will also look qualitatively at how guys have responded to the message in their ‘Instagrooms’ and other AXE social content.

CM: Were there challenges working with these 30 influencers?
JAIN: The AXE Hair Creators have received an overwhelmingly positive response since our launch. All 30 influencers are trusted brand partners who we believe embody what it means to have great, every day style that inspires confidence—and their fans are responding to it.

CM: Are you also trying to also reach guys outside of the influencers’ fan bases?
JAIN: Outside of reaching our target through his top passion areas, we’ve also created tools and educational resources to help all guys find an easy, everyday style, including Instagroom.com/StyleHacks.

CM: As a marketer in a very crowded category, what keeps you up at night?
JAIN: AXE is always innovating and our products are evolving to match the needs and tastes of the modern guy. We’ve seen unprecedented growth in the men’s grooming category as men become more active and passionate about their styling and grooming routines. As the leader in men’s grooming, it’s our responsibility to champion all the ways guys can express themselves every day, including styling their hair.

Related articles:

The Art of the Pitch: 6 Tips to Bring Influencers on Board

Six Reasons Brands Should Use Health & Wellness Influencers

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