Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Modern advertising appeals to the "Goddess" in you

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Madison Avenue marketeers have certainly jumped on The Da Vinci Code bandwagon. Advertisers have taken note that kazillions of people — probably mostly women — have made The Da Vinci Code the best-selling book since the Bible. More and more, we're seeing ads directed towards women promoting the Sacred Feminine, the Divine Goddess within you.

Gillette's new $40 million ad blitz for women's razors is a classic case in point.

Long used to being the number one razor company, Gillette has been stinging the last few years, since a revitalized Schick Company slid into first place.

Though a 2005 lawsuit brought by Energizer forced them to pay substantial fines for false advertising of their battery-operated M3Power shaver — the vibration doesn't actually assist with shaving, the lawsuit claimed — Gillette is poised to reach deep into their pockets to advertise the M3Power and, even moreso, the new pink women's version, the Venus Vibrance.

Named after the Greek Goddess of Love and Beauty, the Venus Vibance is a sleek, curvy, and expensive women's shaver. The price of the men's M3Power is dropping by $2.00, to $9.99, but the new Venus Vibrance, which uses the same technology (which doesn't work) will also have a suggested retail price of $9.99, which is a 15% increase over the current lower-tech Venus Vibrance version.

Venus disposables are also being introduced. These fancy, pink razors will be the most expensive disposable ever sold, priced in a package of three at $2.17 each, more than 40% more than the similar Gillette Sensor at $1.55 per shaver.

Women "are not going to pay more for the sake of paying more. There has to be something in it for them," says Denise Fedewa, co-founder of Leo Burnett USA's LeoShe unit, which specializes in marketing to women.

So what's the benefit Gillette wants to sell to women at a premium price? The promise of a closer shave (remember the lawsuit?) and a "vibrant pink design."

"Women are very discerning shoppers, but they will pay more for something when it has some kind of benefit, tangible or intangible to them, that justifies paying more," Fedewa says. "When these products are out in display in your bathroom, you want it to look nice, feel good in your hands or go over contours better."

Gillette will spend $40 million dollars on an ad campaign to convince you to buy the Venus Vibrance so they can reclaim the top of the heap in women's shavers in the $200 million razor business. They're going to spend $40 million to promote a new product, when they could only sell $18 million worth per year of its earlier version. That's a lot of faith in an admittedly useless technology and a pretty pink design.

"We expect it [the pulsing technology] to have similar positive impact on Venus as it has had on the Mach3 brand," says Peter Hoffman, Gillette's president for blades and razors.

That might be OK with women, Fedewa says. "Women are very discerning shoppers, but they will pay more for something when it has some kind of benefit, tangible or intangible to them, that justifies paying more," she says. "When these products are out in display in your bathroom, you want it to look nice, feel good in your hands or go over contours better."

In addition to the new high-tech model, however, Gillette is not ignoring the lowly disposable razor — used by 54% of women in North America. The company is adding a fancy Venus disposable which — at $6.50 to $7.99 for three razors — will be "the most expensive disposable on the market," Hoffman says. That works out to at least $2.17 per shaver, or 40% more than Gillette's Sensor at $1.55 per shaver.

"We think Venus disposable will be a nice premium niche for those women who want better performance but are committed to disposables," Hoffman says. The average woman uses nine disposable razors annually, so "that's $20 a year to shave," he says.

See the commercial — click here. (Then click the broadband or narrowband version to watch for free. The fullscreen version is for member$ only.)

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