“If without perfume, we are nothing, without image, perfume is nothing,” believes Alain Montandon, professor emeritus of General and Comparative Literature. (1) More than just a simple fragrance, perfume evokes a feeling and an image. Using it is therefore very symbolic for women. Fragrances are surrounded by connotations that brands carefully build and manipulate.
To perfect the relationship between consumers and their perfumes, Thierry Mugler pioneered a unique loyalty strategy.
Born from the imagination of theatre designer Simon Bénarousse, who found children’s clothes too simple and boring, the brand “Du Pareil au même” (translation: “six of one, (and) half a dozen of the other”) has always been defined by fun and colourful products. After the brand’s first store opened in 1986, the French success story is now really taking shape. A baby line was launched in 1994 and then a line of shoes in the 2000s, the club card (loyalty program) was launched in 2004 and events take place regularly. By 2013 the brand was present across 32 countries, had 2.5 million subscribers to its loyalty program and opened its 600th store. (1) How has the brand changed the clothing market? How has it developed its strategy? How does it communicate to mums?
The children’s clothing market
As the fastest growing sector of the apparel market, the children’s sector is supported by positive structural factors, including a growing target population, the fact that children change size and shoe size every 6 months until they hit adolescence, the rise in the average age of women when they have their first child (stronger buying power), etc. However, according to the Xerfi institute, it seems to be struggling in the economic context of 2013. Specialists brands are competing with extensions of adult brands (Zara Kids, Mexx Kids, Gap Kids, etc.) who are trying to gain customers from the child sector. (2) This is why DPAM re-launched its marketing strategy, expanding its digital offer amongst other initiatives.
“Our greatest achievement was not discovering the properties of plants, but making them available to everyone.” So believes Yves Rocher, the famous founder of the botanical beauty company of the same name. He was guided by two key aims: accessible beauty and scientific innovation using plants.
Fascinated by active ingredients in plants, the young Yves Rocher started his business at 28 years old with a ‘lesser flower’ based cream. At that time, in 1959, the beauty market was still dominated by the elite, so the young businessman decided to make cosmetics accessible to all women. (2) This is how mail-order selling started, publishing ads in national newspapers and popular magazines such as “Ici Paris” and “France Dimanche.” (1) The success was immediate and the brand rapidly gained momentum in France. With a client base of around 5,000 addresses, the brand now attracts over 30 million customers worldwide.
Interview with Thierry Maurice, CEO of the dating website appart-ages.com
Womenology: Older women represent a very important market for marketers, what are the expectations of this target audience in your opinion?
Yes, because they are more likely to be regaining control over their lives, which inevitably involves the “consumption” of beauty products, travel, dating sites, etc … Older women are not what they were, they don’t want to give up anything, nothing, except giving up… but there is one area in which they don’t express themselves enough, love and sex, despite how far it has come in recent years.
Be reassured, informed, understood, guided, more beautiful. These are the main needs of expectant mothers. Although responding to all these needs is not an easy task for companies, one brand, among others, has established a reputation for itself in the relatively niche market of pregnant women. That brand is Clarins. What factors have caused this success? What is the “baby” strategy of this cosmetics brand?
The long established relationship between Clarins and future mothers
In 1993, Clarins was already making an impact on the cosmetics for expectant mothers market when it published the book “Pregnancy, the most beautiful days of your life.” The brand was launched; Clarins established itself as the brand leader for beauty advice during pregnancy.
Interview with Salim Azar, Professor at the University of Cergy Pontoise
Womenology: What are the characteristics of a brand hoping to address a female audience?
The emergence of new sociological, political, philosophical and artistic trends has caused new approaches to consumption and brands. Beyond a symbolic and emotional view of brands, self-expression has become a decisive factor in consumer choices and preferences. Movements such as feminism and postmodernism have highlighted the importance of the consumption of symbols and feelings, in a subjective and hyper-real context. Feminism highlights women’s day to day experiences, and postmodernism emphasizes the importance of hedonism and pleasure in life. By capitalizing on these movements, it is now widely accepted in marketing that consumers no longer choose products just for functional uses, but also for what they represent. Brands become de facto capital because they act mainly in this way. In my research, based on an anthropomorphic brand approach, I am interested in analysing the traits and characteristics of “gendered” brands. I found that brands, like humans, have a sex, a gender and a sexual orientation. These tools help managers to improve their ability to address all women.
Victor Mills, American chemical engineer who worked at Procter & Gamble Co in the 50s, revolutionized the baby market when he invented the disposable nappy. Inspired by his own experiences with his grandchildren, the inventor created the Pampers brand, known for its innovation. It was the first company to replace nappy pins with tape, and then the first to develop extendable ties, absorbent gels and multipacks (1970), but its most famous achievement, Baby Dry, came out in the 90s. (1) Thanks to this new technology, nappies became more absorbent and parents’ lives were transformed.
Let’s take a closer look at this market leader. What is its marketing strategy, its advantage over competitors and its market vision?
Innovation gains consumer trust
With its knack for launching innovative new products on the nappy market, Pampers has established itself as the brand to beat, and is now one of the brands most trusted by mums (Study Millward Brown, TrustR , 2011). (2)
Investing around $2 billion in research each year, P&G bases their Pampers brand strategy totally on innovation and technology. In fact, in March 2013, the Pampers Research and Development centre in Schwalbach, near Frankfurt in Germany was more than happy to open its doors to French journalists and bloggers. (3)
After several years of research on behavioral differences in boys and girls, in January 2012, the Lego brand launched a new range for girls; Lego Friends. How does this strategy work? What affinity has Lego established with girls since its origins? Let’s look back at the brand campaigns that marked great years for the brand.
Lego Friends: a new world for girls
“Heartlake City” is the name given to the imaginary city of toys created by Lego for girls. In this fun and colorful landscape, five friends do their favorite activities: decorating their homes, going to the hairdresser’s, preparing food, and working as vets or karate instructors…
Stephen Knapp, Marketing Director for Lego France explains how design varies in the range: “We interviewed girls and found that for them, the experience starts before the construction itself, they have different needs to boys. They want to make their own world, create models all by themselves (…). The figurines are slightly larger, closer to reality, still to construct, but designed to appeal to girls, who didn’t identify with the boy figurines. The figures are characters whose stories girls are invited to discover, their personalities, their worlds, and of course the friendship that brings them together. “ (2)
Created in 1979 in the United States, the Happy Meal menu soon found its audience. Its success is partly due to the famous little toy, originally purchased separately and then included in the menu. From basic gifts such as Frisbees or balls, the toys have become more intricate and their quality has improved. McDonald’s now even offer Disney licensed toys. But children’s enthusiasm for the Happy Meal is also down to McDonald’s’ collaborations with recent movie releases. From “Star Trek” to “Star Wars” to “Despicable Me,” McDonald’s has become an essential communication tool to the film world.
However, it is the “gendered” characteristics of these famous toys which have really built up the reputation of the Happy Meal. There’s no need to ask parents around the world to know that the question asked by Mcdonalds staff; “For a Boy or a Girl?” is notorious.
The Happy Meal as a champion for gender stereotypes
Given as gifts, the toys symbolize affection and an intent to please. They also provide a lot of fun for children. But behind this playful front lies a darker aspect to the toys, linked to socialisation. “(…)As both a cultural instrument and a social learning aid, the toy is a key factor in socialisation. This is without doubt the most established, yet most hidden role of the Happy Meal… This is because the toy both triggers and reflects urban communication in the media and in children’s education. It makes that child a product of the times and outlines successive roles that the child will be expected to take on throughout the different stages of life,” writes sociologist Sandrine Vincent.
Business Development Manager at the “Institut des Mamans,” Virginia Foucault-Rougé has 15 years of experience in marketing , advertising and media studies (Interdeco , Publicis , Secodip TNS Sofres …)
Womenology: Have mums changed their consumer habits in recent years?
We are a market research institute specialising in targeting mums, families and children, so we pay particular attention to the fact that we are working in a rapidly changing environment. I’ve been working on this target audience for 8 years, and I would certainly say that the sector is moving extremely quickly. One example which has had a significant impact on the behaviour of this target audience, particularly in terms of consumption and more generally in terms of lifestyle, is the importance of digital and social networks in their everyday lives. (…) It is impossible to understand this audience without knowing that today, almost 7 out of 10 mums own a Smartphone (2 years ago this figure was “only” 44%), and 80% of these mums connect to their Smartphones whilst on the move. This development has completely changed the ways of browsing and purchasing. Before buying a product for their child 9 out of 10 mums consult the internet whilst 2 out of 10 regularly consult the internet. For example, nowadays 75% of pushchairs sold are purchased in store and 25% online. This is the reality. These are the key figures you need to know. Again, these changes are very clear to see in the general population, but these trends are particularly strong and magnified amongst the target audience of mums. (…)