Communication Analysis for Gillette's New Product Fusion Proglide Research Paper

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Gillette, a division of Procter & Gamble, released its Gillette Fusion ProGlide on June 6, 2010. This product is a brand extension of the original Gillette Fusion that was launched in 2006. There have been a couple of other extensions of this brand before. As typical with a new Gillette product, the launch was paired with an intensive advertising campaign. The Fusion ProGlide represents a modest modification of the existing product, mostly thinner blades. These minor adjustments are marketed by the company as significant upgrades in the hope that consumers will swap out their Fusion razors for the new ProGlide variant. The Fusion brand was already the best-selling men's razor in the United States with $1 billion in revenue and represents innovations that derive from working in cross-functional teams from other P&G divisions (Sewell, 2010).

The communications for the new ProGlide placed emphasis on a couple of key ideas. The first was the humor inherent in the race for razor supremacy -- pundits had theorized that Gillette's new announcement was going to add new blades to its Fusion. The second was the focus on the technological advantages that the new ProGlide has vs. The existing Fusion models. The product was priced higher than existing models by 10%, breaking the $10 barrier (Sewell, 2010), something that the company had to overcome in its communications as well.

Company Texts

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Gillette has a number of texts relating to the Fusion ProGlide. The first comes from the company website, on the main ProGlide page (http://www.gillette.com/en/us/Products/Razors/proglide/fusion-proglide-power-razor.aspx). This communication can be found as part of Exhibit A. This text outlines some of the basic features of the ProGlide. It helps to differentiate between ProGlide and other versions of Fusion. It contains the tag line "after one shave, you'll stop shaving and start gliding." This tagline is not given prominence, and may be subject to a trial balloon here.

TOPIC: Research Paper on Communication Analysis for Gillette's New Product Fusion Proglide Assignment

Another company text is the Gillette Fusion ProGlide Fact Sheet. This is also contained as part of Exhibit A. This text contains some of the same basic descriptions, but then goes into more detail with respect to the features of the ProGlide. The fact sheet focuses on the new enhancements of the ProGlide and how the ProGlide differs from the basic Fusion models. A third text is an advertisement that can be viewed on YouTube here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p_rsBuK44uA

This advertisement focuses on the benefits to the user of the razor, and does so in an unusual manner. Unlike most shaving commercials, this one focuses on men shaving their legs, to show how smooth the shave can be. The situation was treated with mild comedic value, but largely focused on the smoothness of the shave. This ad was part of a larger launch campaign dubbed the Gillette Fusion ProGlide Face Off.

Analysis of Texts

There are two main messages in these texts. The first two texts focus on inputs -- the technique reasons why the ProGlide is superior to razors already on the market, including previous Fusion products. The tone of this type of communication is fairly sober-minded and informative. For the end user, the inputs are less exciting, but make a more rational case for spending the money on a new razor. In this situation, the rational argument is made without much visual flourish either, but focuses on key points of difference so that the consumer can feel as though he is making an informed decision.

The video ad contrasts with the print copy in that it focuses on the outputs -- the end result to the consumer of using the Fusion ProGlide. This focus is more immediate for the consumer and is less rational. There is a stronger visual element to this communication and the tone is more casual. This text is one that the consumer is intended to relate to, in contrast to the others, which have much less emotional content and seek to spur a rational reaction.

The text copies are fairly generic with respect to their intended audiences. They are both geared more to rational, thinking consumers, but the second one is more focused on providing a depth of information. It is also a communication that must be sought out. The first communication comes from the main page of the ProGlide website. It provides a quick synopsis of the rational information. This is intended more for a mainstream audience, one that wants to feel as though the decision to purchase makes rational sense, but does not wish to get too deeply involved in rational analysis. By contrast, the video ad has a specific target audience in mind. The ad plays direction to black males 20-40, through the use of African-American models, colloquial banter and specific lifestyle text references ("I hope the ladies will like it").

The first text is part of the front page of the ProGlide website. As such, it is a basic introduction to the product and is intended to lead consumers to further information. The text is meant to be informative, but non-threatening. The audience will decide if further information is required. The second text is focused on a particular subsegment of the audience. The information conveyed is detailed and relatively dry. That said, this information meets the needs of a market segment that must justify buying another new razor, and crossing the ten dollar threshold in the process.

The third text, the video ad, is part of a campaign to launch the product. The Fusion ProGlide Challenge is a program by which the product is distributed for free in order for consumers to test the new razor against their existing razor. The implication is that Gillette believes this product is better than all others, and intends to stand by that in the court of consumer opinion. This ad thus serves a role in a greater set of communications. These communications are split between those targeting the African-American audience and those targeting either a Caucasian audience or a generic audience. Thus, this text can be more specific with respect to its audience because other texts in the series target other elements of the ProGlide target market.

Comparison

Schick is a competing company with its own razor products. On the homepage for Quattro, the closest competitor to the Fusion, there is a brief description of the product, perhaps more scanty than its ProGlide equivalent. The Schick website in general places significant emphasis on imagery, and is very short on product detail. Other Schick ads have also been heavy on imagery to convey their message as well, as can be seen here: http://glazefolio.com/blog/schick-quattro-great-print-advertisement/

Schick's ads also seem to target a more sophisticated audience, creating aspirational elements to its product. This contrasts with the more direct tactic of Gillette in trying to approach the consumer as a peer and fellow user. Schick's ads attempt to sway the consumer with aspiration instead. The intensity of ads is also higher for Gillette. The company has a stronger message in the marketplace than does Schick, and this reflects in the intensity of its marketing.

Another difference between Schick and Gillette is that the latter targets segments on a narrower basis. Schick seems to have a blanket focus in its marketing, splitting its consumers along gender lines only. Gillette's approach breaks its market down in terms of ethnicity and psychographics as well, which serves to attract a broader range of customers to its products. The company's communications are more generic in nature, and use highlighted words to stress key points. This breaks up text blocks, which are much longer than the sound bites provided by Gillette on its website and in the video ad. Schick's text reads like an intelligent conversation, but fails to convey any emotional element.

It is worth noting that both of these companies omit direct calls to action in their marketing communications. Even with the Gillette Fusion ProGlide Challenge, which was a limited-time contest, there was no direct call to action. The companies may be assuming that consumers will choose their brand only after long-term exposure to the marketing message. Certainly with Schick the lifestyle implications of the marketing message may take time to resonate. This approach for Gillette seems stranger, but may have the impact of "playing it smooth," even with respect to the contest.

Exhibit A: ProGlide Communications

The new Gillette® Fusion® ProGlide ™ Power Razor has re-engineered blades with edges that are thinner than Fusion. They are finished with Gillette's most advanced low-resistance coating, which allows the blades to glide effortlessly through hair. Providing incredible comfort, even if you shave everyday.

Even with thinner, finer blades*, an enhanced lubrastrip and improved blade suspension system, you may not see all of the latest innovations on the NEW Gillette Fusion ProGlide and Gillette Fusion ProGlide Power Razors with the naked eye but after one shave, you'll stop shaving and start gliding.

Gillette Proglide Fact Sheet

GILLETTE® FUSION® PROGLIDE™

FACT SHEET The Product:

New Gillette Fusion ProGlide shaving system is a significant advancement in shaving performance and comfort, outperforming Gillette Fusion -- the world's leading… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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