Love at first sniff?



Companies marketing deodorants only to the young have lost the scent of the trail, says a study

Most deodorant ads feature a young guy out to woo his lady love. The deo that he wears helps him score with women. Most of these ads are based in a pub, discotheque or college setting. But if market trends and reports by those tracking the sector are any indication, the ads have got it completely wrong.

According to love@first.sight, a report on the deodorants segment by Lokusdesign, a design consultancy, the body spray is missing the love between the brand and its consumers. Marketers are also guilty of chasing the low-hanging fruit. While a majority of deodorant advertising targets the youth, the consumers who spend more on deodorants are working professionals. While the average spend by young men on deodorants is ₹150-325, male professionals spend an average of ₹400-700 on deodorants. It’s a similar divide in the case of college-going girls and female professionals.

That’s probably why a brand like Park Avenue has managed to stand out from the clutter by positioning itself as the preferred deodorant of the office-goer. Park Avenue adopted a brand personality that would veer towards stylish, sophisticated, mature and contemporary.

The other deodorant brand that went off the beaten track was Eva, which is owned by the Chennai-based TTK group. Positioned as a deodorant that contains no alcohol (the brand uses silicon fluid instead), the brand is a favourite with communities such as Muslims and Jains which shun products that use alcohol for religious reasons.

The company says, though, that religion has nothing to do with the product not using alcohol.

Being non-alcoholic, Eva offers functional benefits as well. “It is meant for teenagers and young women, who often wear sleeveless clothes, as deos containing alcohol can be an irritant to freshly depilated or shaven skin,” says a company spokesperson.

Also, the pressure at which the can sprays the deo has been adjusted so that the force does not hurt the skin, he adds.

Where does the deo category go from here on? The rise of the “nuanced users” will see the 2-in-1 concept of deo plus fragrance fade away, predict industry experts. In India, fragrance is now a bigger need among consumers using deos rather than freshness. In the West, for example, fragrance-free deos have gained popularity. Then skin-whitening deos, which have already made an entry in India, could find some takers in a country that’s obsessed with skin colour – so what if it only happens to be under the arms.

Eva, say company executives, gives a lot more than just being non-alcoholic in nature. They claim that the entire range from the brand stable is PH-balanced. (The human body has a slightly acidic PH value – nature’s way of deodorising it. But with the use of soap, and the food we eat, it becomes alkaline.) Eva helps restore the PH, making freshness last longer, the spokesperson explains.

The other big innovation could come at the price end, as the average price of deos is zooming upwards, even while penetration is only about 8 per cent.

Since a major cost of the deo comes from its pressurised can packaging, there are some manufacturers who are actively looking at refill cans.

Maybe, like fountains selling aerated drinks, you could soon find deodorant refill points around you.

Published on February 13, 2014
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