It’s not enough to win with quality or technical features. If every brand’s point of difference is simply the quality of its products, it’s not really a point of difference no matter how true their claims are – it’s merely the cost of entry. What’s needed is the initiative to compete in some other unidentified element, as was done in the following campaign that recently went viral.
Instead of following the tradition of boasting overall superior protection, Always took a different approach with its #Likeagirl ad – female empowerment. Other brands such as Kotex, which once took a satirical approach, and HelloFlo, which boldly and directly used humour to address first-timers, also deserve honourable mentions for differentiating their brands in areas outside of technical quality. The emergence of such a variety of campaigns certainly makes for an interesting battle in the feminine hygiene category and it is difficult to say which branding strategy will prevail in the long-term.
However, I think the Always ad is worth noting as it is highly reminiscent of the award-winning Dove Campaign for Real Beauty (although the two relate to different categories, I wouldn’t be surprised if P&G owed some of its inspiration to one of its closest competitors in Unilever). Obviously as a male, I am no expert on feminine hygiene, but what makes a great marketer is someone who understands their target market even if they don’t belong in that market as a consumer themselves. And the brand team behind the Always ad has indeed proven that it understands its target market of primarily young female teens going through puberty, as well as their respective mothers seeking to educate their growing daughters. Said teens and mothers connect emotionally with empowering messages and Always has capitalized on this trend.
By connecting with the consumer on an emotional level, Always has effectively captured a unique point of difference that is difficult for competitors to imitate without being seen as copycats. Rather than falling victim to battles of product quality (similar to the Pepsi Taste Test Challenge), P&G redefined the category in a way that was unique and compelling, steering clear of challenging its competition directly. As a result, to the consumer, it’s no longer about buying the pad that provides the most protection; it’s about associating with a brand that makes them feel good about themselves.