Given the poor quality of most TV programs and amount of time allocated to advertisements, I often find the most interesting aspect of watching television is analyzing the commercials. Lately, I notice three spots, each for a different product, marketing products to men despite the fact that the traditional purchasers are women. They are food for thought for entrepreneurs as they demonstrate the art of specific messages and the possibility of market expansion beyond traditional customers, concepts that have become even more important during the last year.
The products being marketing for men were urine leakage underwear, perfume and skin cream. For the first, Tena reiterated the phrase “one in four” many times and showed image of average, healthy looking men, emphasizing that one of them had incontinence problems without actually showing the underwear. To sell the perfume, Johnny Depp appears in the Dior “Sauvage” commercial, escaping the city to reach the wild desert. Finally, Loréal adveritises its Hydra Energetic Skin lotion by showing young men stating that the use of the cream removes the fatigue from their skin, making look more energetic. It is clear that the target audience for these spots is male.
Accordingly, the commercials adopt approaches that are different from those directed at women. In the first case, the message was that it is no shame to have to wear this product because many others suffer from the same problem even if they do not talk about it. By contrast, Tena’s adverts for its women’s products emphasize the effectiveness and attractiveness of the garment, even showing it. Clearly, the issue of shame is much less relevant for women. While men have traditionally bought perfume, they have mainly purchased it as gifts for women except maybe aftershave for themselves. Since perfume commercials essentially communicate the impression that a person will make after sprinkling some of the fragrance, the men’s version emphasizes virility and youth, not external physical beauty. In the past, men’s use of skin cream was therapeutic, i.e., to treat dry skin. Loréal is attempting to instill in men’s mind that their skin somehow reflects their inner fatigue, not an attractive feature, and a solution for this “problem” exists, i.e., this cream. By contrast, women have always used make-up and thus only need "reminding" that their skin is showing its age, a permanent problem, not that it looks tired, a temporary problem. Therefore, the male-directed spots apply very specific strategies.
These strategies include identifying, expanding and creating a need. Tena did not invent male incontinence problems but did realize that most men were not using a dedicated product to handle the problem. While men did buy some scents for themselves, recent generations of men are more open to using them, thus allowing significant expansion in the number of potential customers. Traditionally the vast majority of men have not expressed much aestjetic worry about their skin or the external aspects of aging aside from balding, limiting the ability of the cosmetics companies to persuade them that they need skin care products. However, the emphasis on short-term attractiveness may open the door for greater purchases of existing products. All these strategies allow companies to sell more by merely adapting an existing product.
For entrepreneurs and freelances, these “mega” lessons also apply. It can be productive to invest time in considering the profile of a potential buyer of your product while ignoring historical patterns. Where a pattern of limited purchases exists, it may be possible to expand the volume of orders by suggesting further uses of your services by emphasizing their benefits to the customer. Given the increased number of people working independently from their home, the potential market for many services has increased exponentially, thus rendering it vital to consider to how to reach these customers. The principles of marketing do not change according to budget, only the means of reaching the customers.
The next time you get up during the break to get something to eat that would be better to pass on, try to pay attention to the commercials and treat them as free marketing seminars. That often makes them far more interesting than the programs themselves.
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