Writing and Marketing

Tag: Branding

Brand Analysis: Old Spice

Old Spice is, to me, a fascinating paradox of a brand. As not one who pays too much attention to the deodorant I wear, but who knows many people who swear by the product (or swear by other people using the product) I was able to collect many enthusiastic comments regarding the product. What was interesting to me was that there was two distinct lines of praise for Old Spice. One was how the brand was “mature” and “classy”, specifically in comparison to rival brand Axe – the general consensus being that Axe was appropriate for teenagers, while those over a certain age should be using Old Spice instead. At the same time, Old Spice has a reputation as a brand associated with humour and irreverence, with many people often bringing up how they enjoyed how Old Spice was never too “serious”. A quick look at the FAQ section of their Canadian website (where, in between explaining their products, a ‘short-necked giraffe’ tried to get me to look at his screenplay), confirmed this to be the case. Old Spice has a brand then, it seems, that is carefully designed to be mature – but not to mature. To be more specific, it seeks to be associated with a degree of class, but doesn’t want its target market of younger men to feel that it is too full of itself or being too serious, thusly their brand constantly having its tongue firmly in cheek.

Looking purely at their products, I found that their branding, in store and on the website, tended to follow these general trends. I soon began to come up with a variety of brand associations, settling on “fun”, “irreverent”, “masculine”, “(playfully) classy”, “’tongue in cheek’”, and with a unique blend of “mature yet silly.” This is visible not just in their famous advertisements, but all over the website and the packaging itself. For example, many of their bottles features a ‘classy’ style of writing – elegant cursive within a gold frame, or other ornate lettering. At the same time, the same packaging will features fanciful and fun artwork and designs, and even messages similar to the ones displayed on their website. Perhaps this was best displayed by their cologne packaging. A simple red design with the branded text on front gave a classy appearance – with the word “classic” itself prominently featured. On the back of the box however, was a message informing me that “If your grandfather hadn’t worn it, you wouldn’t be here”. This is clearly having some fun with the customer, while still reminding them of Old Spice’s heritage and reliability as a brand.

From the branding, I believe we can pull out the full value proposition of Old Spice. Firstly, and most obviously, would be the tangible benefit of making you smell nice, and to keep you smelling nice. While this might seem a little bland for such a colourful brand, it should be remembered that for many, Old Spice is simply a practical product – to expand upon simply “smelling nice” I would say that Old Spice’s general tangible benefit, through deodorants to shampoos and soaps, it to make you more presentable throughout the day. Of course, there are plenty of emotional benefits as well – scent based brands, I think, have to lean heavily into their emotional value due to being so subjective. Axe, for example, has the emotional value proposition of making one attractive to women. Old Spice, in a subtler vein, is more about selling confidence. Partially this is obvious (many Old Spice produces use the term “confidence” directly in their descriptions) and partially it is seen in a more pervasive manner throughout their entire brand. The brand itself is confident enough to be playful with its own image, not being concerned at all what others might say about it. At the same time, its scents tend to have a lot of “masculine” branding  – references to the outdoors, high seas and hard work. No matter what confidence means to the consumer, Old Spice is providing a variation.

Tiffany and the Luxury Market in Canada

Before you even open the small box, in Tiffany Blue – before you even see the gift inside – there are immediate associations that come to mind, an immediate expectation of what might be inside. With decades of cultural impact behind it, Tiffany’s is a brand that is fitted tightly into the public consciousness. To the average consumer, these associations are automatic – but to anyone interested in branding, there is an entire market and branding strategy to unbox. Tiffany Canada is in the Broad Market of selling jewelry. This is the main product that the company sells and is a distinct market within Canada. The jewelry market is an interesting one, with a wide variety of sellers and buyers. Firstly, and most importantly, it is a retail industry, selling finished products directly to customers. It depends mainly on a variety of resource gathering secondary industries, mainly the mining of gold, silver and, of course, jewels. This industry has a few key economic drivers, the most noteworthy for this assignment being that even the cheapest of jewelry is something of a luxury. This means that this is a market that is closely tied to the changing tides of disposable income within Canada, something to keep in mind. Price fluctuation in the precious metals required to manufacture the jewelry is also a concern. The industry is of course affected by consumer demand, but also in some cases by department store demand and, increasingly, of e-commerce sites. While these are general industry trends, they affect Tiffany less, as it operates its own stores. (Indeed, as discussed later, the Tiffany stores are a key part of the Tiffany experience). It is a large industry even within the relatively (on a global scale), Canadian Market, with the most recent data from the summer and spring of 2018 showing total sales worth about $300,000,000. Within the Canadian market there are two large conglomerates of jewelry sellers that between the two of them control about 15% of the market, these being the Zale Corporation and the other the Birks Group. Out of these two, Birks tries to target the luxury market more, moving towards Tiffany’s position while Zale (through its People’s Brand) advertises itself more on its deals and affordability. After these two, Tiffany’s is the third largest jewelry brand in Canada with a Market Share at about 4%. Behind Tiffany is retailer Michael Hill, who has been shown to have fast growth in the Canadian market. Indeed, he competition between established players in this market is apparently fairly lively, as it is not a market where there any many new entrants per year. Those who do want to get into the jewelry manufacturing business are normally very small and not a direct threat to the existing blocs or are looking into other ways to crack the market.

These new forms of selling are one of the factors that are going to influence market growth in the future, and the general health of the market. Perhaps a bit ironically, forecasts estimate that it is going to be this outside competition that will pose the largest threat to established jewelry companies. Firstly, online purchases of jewelry are estimated to increase in the future, as are the jewelry products offered in department stores, who are seeking to tap into the market. These methods of selling hope to appeal to millennial buyers, who have generally declined in their jewelry purchasing. Partially this is because of the bad press the diamond industry has earned (think of ‘blood diamonds’ from Africa, and the revelation of the price controlling that the industry does), and partially because this generation is known to be low on money and time. The speed and convenience of having their jewelry be delivered, or be accessible at a central shopping location, all appeal to people who have less buying power and convenience. As well, while I mentioned that the industry was a competitive one that was difficult to break into for newer players, that does not mean that international competition might not be a threat. For example, industry operator Michael Hill international has been aggressively expanding within Canada over the past few years. This shows that despite challenges and changes in demographics, the industry is a live one, and it does not pay for any brand to fall asleep at the wheel. As can be seen, Politic, Social and Economic factors are some of the key modifiers in the Canadian jewelry market to consider as part of PESTLE.

There are also some more positive opportunities, along with the threats, to the industry. While the current generation of millennials might not be big purchasers, there is hope that this might change in the future, and that the following generation might be larger spenders. A general recovery in the economy is always good for disposable income, which is likewise good for the jewelry industry. Also to be considered is the point that technology need not only be a threat to the established jewelry industry. Branding that will set individual companies apart from competitors, both new and old, will be key, and newer technologies can be leveraged to better reinforce a brand. Tiffany’s has already shown that it understands this with how it connects itself, celebrities and consumers through social media such as Instagram.

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