A polo shirt with an embroidered crocodile. This is the hallmark of the legendary French company Lacoste. Officially born in 1933, the famous shirts adorned with their badge is based on the story of the international tennis champion René Lacoste – dubbed the « alligator » and « crocodile » in reference to his tenacity on the court. Following the diversification of his offer, the brand has managed to develop its image.
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)
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.
In the past, socialisation of young children only occurred in certain situations, including the family unit, at school and amongst peers. However, the increasing availability of television and internet access has changed this traditional pattern. Whereas children’s environments generally used to be controlled by parents and schools, nowadays children have unlimited access to media content. This development has brought about a number of concerns: the feeling of a loss of control could lead to potential media intrusion or invasion on daily life… Various groups have attempted to take control of this problem. For example, the European Council provides clear, standardised guidelines which allow guardians to control and avoid any potentially negative media influences on children. However, the amount of freedom that the small screen allows is still widely disputed and feared by the public.
Is Television an accessible resource or a threat to education?
In recent years, the number of murders committed by teenagers has multiplied, and it is commonly believed that the killers may be influenced by excessive consumption of ultra-violent media content. This belief has been challenged by philosopher Marie-José Mondzain in his book « Can imagery kill?” In the book he disputes the idea that exposure to violent content can directly influence behaviour. This imitation theory is based on the assumption that teenagers have no ability to put information into context or the capacity to take information in any way other than imitating it. The fear of such images does not just concern video games, but almost every type of visual content, whether it is reality (TV news) or fiction (cartoons, advertising…). Children’s TV programs are therefore perceived as potentially dangerous.
According to an American study carried out in 2011 by Com Score, entitled « Men more difficult to persuade with advertising than women », advertising content affects men and women differently. Although both sexes have the same ability to memorise advertisements, they don¹t focus on the same elements…
which proves, yet again, that advertising agencies need to adapt their strategy depending on which gender they’re targeting.
The Com Score study firstly shows that women are more interested in adverts than men are: while 56% of men claim to « rarely or never » watch adverts, only 43% of women are in this situation. During an ad break in the middle of a TV programme, for example, men tend to get up and do other things while waiting for their programme to resume, whilst women stay in front of the TV and watch the adverts. Women also spend more time on the Internet than men do (3% on average), notably on e-commerce sites where they are exposed to advertising.
In March 2011, Mobistar led a study to better understand the way in which men and women use their mobile phones. Here are the main results.
Ownership of mobile phones varies according to gender. According to the site Hemmer, 87% of men own one, as opposed to 79% of women. But this gap no longer exists amongst the younger generations (14 – 25 years of age): 92% of girls versus 87% of boys have a mobile phone, and they mainly use it for texting.
On average, women make more use of their mobiles than men. They phone for 19 minutes more than men every month and send 51 more texts. This more intensive use is mainly due to the fact that women phone their family and friends more often than men for a catch-up whereas men wait to have something concrete to say before calling: according to a study, calls (to landlines and mobiles) made by women are to family members in 66% of cases, and only 45% in the case of calls made by men.
We interviewed Agence L, a new, French communication agency specialized in marketing to women.
Created in order to bring a more feminine vision to brands’ messages, the agency’s goals are to get rid of standard clichés about women and take into account new platforms for communicating that women use.
We talk to them about why France isn’t nearly as advanced as the U.S. in targeting women for marketing, and what new projects they have coming up.
Contact : Marie-Estelle Wittersheim
60% of women find word of mouth advice credible, versus only 50% of men. A study in the United States by Keller Fay shows us that women are more likely to listen to and relay information received through friends and acquaintances—something brands should start paying attention to.
In tune with a more familial and community attitudes, women like to share things they learn, while men perfer to keep things to themselves. While this may seem like an outdated opinion about gender roles, many new studies share these conclusions.
A recent study by McKinsey found that 75% of brands today rely principally on word of mouth, which can generate twice as many sales as a classic media campaign. Because of this, marketers would do well to target their communication to women who are more receptive to these types of messages, and are more likely to spread them afterwards.