Pantene was on a tear. Its new positioning emphasizing its Pro-V(itamin) content in conjunction with a formula, packaging, and price change had catapulted the brand to the #1 position in Shampoos and Conditioners. Unfortunately, P&G had not yet cracked the code in the styling segment of the market. We had the assignment to figure out how to bring Pantene Pro-V Styling Aids to market. From soup to nuts, we were asked to design, price and advertise the line.
How To Style
Pantene needed to understand what consumers were looking for from their styling products. The positioning also needed to be consistent with that which had helped the brand become #1 in Shampoos and Conditioners. Finally, an added requirement was to ensure that P&G Canada and Mexico would be able to use our formulas and packaging sizes.
We first took a look at styling advertising from around the world to try and understand visually what seemed to be consistent, what was working, and what didn’t seem to fit. We conducted research with our target consumers to see what they were seeking in styling that would fit with our “healthy” image. Key findings were that hair needed to look like it was not weighed down; it needed to look touchable, certain ingredients were less desirable, and shine was a key indicator of healthy, styled hair. It also became clear that consumers were looking for help in optimizing their use of these products.
We developed a complete line of products that would help consumers achieve the lift and hold that they wanted while still having healthy hair. The pumps, nozzles, and mist inserts were optimized to ensure that the products would not coat, but would leave the hair feeling and looking touchable. Ingredients like Alcohol were eliminated, as they were not seen as healthy. Brochures were created for POP to help consumers understand how each would help them achieve the style they desired. Advertising continued to use our aspirational models, including Niki Taylor, with the images being meticulously designed to ensure an upscale look with healthy, shiny hair. Finally, the line was kept in the 250-300mL size to optimize price points throughout North America.
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How High Is Up
The Pantene brand was growing dramatically and outpacing its budget. The company wanted to know how big we thought we could grow it while still delivering the profit targets. Incremental funding could be allocated, but we needed to be sure that it wouldn’t come at the expense of other businesses.
Media spending tests had a long history at P&G and very established protocols on market selection and length. These tests were tightly controlled to ensure that they would, indeed, be replicable when rolled out nationally. However, P&G had little experience with brands growing as fast as Pantene. With the explosive growth underway, it was going to be virtually impossible to find stable markets to run traditional match-paired tests.
We believed additional support would be shown to “pay out,” but we needed to run our tests in an out of the box way. We also wanted to continue to fuel the growth as rapidly as fiscally possible. In the end, we negotiated the use of two test cells that were “matched” against the balance of the U.S. We also negotiated the agreement to be able to pull “early reads” on the results in order to make quicker business calls on whether to invest additional money in the business. We did this on first a $30MM, then a $60MM, and finally a $100MM national theoretical plan. Early reads and use of non-matched test cells helped fuel the growth of the brand into its dominant #1 position.
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