Originally Posted by L'Homme Blanc Individuel
Speaking as a guy with a LOT of marketing experience in terms of dealing with demographics and very large numbers of people, one thing I've always been fascinated by is the disconnect between the goals of those who make a product and those who want to buy a product. Companies like Apple get it right: focus on the buyers and let the engineering folks figure how to make what buyers want. Other companies work so hard on creating and marketing their stuff that they neglect the person they're trying to sell to.
I remember standing up in a meeting once and saying: "Our target is a 35 year old woman, right? Why would she be excited about this? Does she even LIKE this?" People looked at me like I was from Mars. Aaaaaaaaaaand when the product launch failed, they didn't stop to figure out why.
It's easy to look at this article and thing "Man, AXE sure knows how to market their stuff." And they clearly do. But they also really know what their target consumers want, and that's what they make.
I sure as heck wouldn't wear AXE, but that's fine. They're not targeting me at all.
Getting back to marketing: I've never understood the way most men's fragrances are marketed. I found basenotes earlier this year. Before I found this site, I was clueless about scents. If I worked for YSL, I'd be marketing La Nuit as "Date Night = La Nuit." Most guys don't know what Nuit means. It's something in French. Maybe it means nutty? Or Nugget? Sure, the ads probably show two nearly naked people about to get it on... but so does just about every other fragrance ad. Give guys a reason to know La Nuit is a nighttime scent for dating.
Sex sells, right? Not as much as the ability to GET sex does.
The AXE advertising strategy isn't going to work for others. AXE is hyper-focussed on a narrow demographic. But, how many years has Gucci had Gucci Pour Homme II on the market without actually pointing out that it's an amazing date night scent? Make scents with a purpose. Market them with a purpose. Don't just put the bottle on shelves and hope guys figure it out.
I think the vast majority of advertising for fragrances is terrible. They do such a bad job of connecting with consumers. Most men still approach a fragrance counter with a deer-in-the-headlights look because they have no idea what to look for - mostly because they fragrance houses have given them no way of knowing what to look for. 99% of all fragrance ads are a still shot of a sweaty shirtless dude with a mostly naked sweaty woman. He's looking at the camera and she's looking at him. OH, and let's do it in black and white, because THAT'S never been done before, right? They all look the same.
When are fragrance houses going to figure out that most men don't know what to look for, so they need help - help before they even head to the store.
Great post! I love your story about the failed launch, too. SO much forgetting of the basics.
I think you're final point is spot on. There could be a lot more subliminal "help" in advertising, or even in line-building. I think YSL did a nice job differentiating L'Homme from La Nuit, but they could have emphasized day+night a bit more to make the point that guys need both. The industry needs to emphasize that a one-frag wardrobe is as lame as a one-T-shirt wardrobe. Good grief, you could do some absolutely hilarious ads about that.
If guys realized that they could select their fragrances (plural) in the same way as clothing, sound equipment, video, a beer, a wine, or furniture - i.e., with just a small bit of normal, sensible, and simple "guy logic" - and then proceeded to do it - they would totally raise their game level from caveman to James Bond. That's one of the reasons that I like Chandler Burr's contributions in GQ - they are a strong first step in that direction.
Really, though, somebody needs to do a solid book which is as complete as Turin's, but much more practical and guy-centric. Something that cares less about the art, originality, and technical prowess of fragrances, and really addresses the basic who / what / when / where / why / and how. Don't diss the sport fragrances - compare and contrast them. Take them seriously as hell, because they're an important segment. Don't piss on the "can't miss" popular ones - distinguish them from the "unusual" frags. Point out the relative advantages and disadvantages of popular scents versus unique ones. Take guys through the options of date frags, art frags, hippie frags, get-naked frags, stolen ladies' frags, and all the rest. Cheap versus expensive, and the advantages of either. Hell - have a chapter on turning into a rabid collector or perfumaniac like us. Turin gave us the art catalog, but now we need the DIY guy fragrance manual.