So… who’s really your customer?

One of this year’s “hottest” ad campaigns is for Procter & Gamble’s 72-year-old Old Spice brand.   During February’s Super Bowl, P&G launched a 30-second spot featuring the strapping actor Isaiah Mustafa, a former NFL wide receiver, as pitch man for P&G’s fledgling men’s shower gel which was running a distant third to Axe.

The spot, produced by Wieden + Kennedy in Portland, Ore., went viral within days and has drawn more than 16 million views on YouTube alone.   CBS News aired a report on the campaign in advance of a second ad launched during the World Cup… again featuring manly Isaiah.

So… what can product managers learn from an advertising sensation?

Before I answer, take 30-seconds and have a look at the spot.

The most striking thing – aside from Isaiah’s abs – is that the pitch is aimed directly at woman… or should I say, “Ladies?”    Why would P&G speak to women about a man’s personal hygiene product?

The answer is simple.

Market research indicated that as much as 70 percent of men’s shower products are purchased by females who live in the same household.    In market research, 70 percent is a very significant pull.    Since women make the majority share of buying decisions… they are the real customers for men’s shower gel.    Men only apply it.

Similar distinctions were discovered decades ago in the retail paint industry.    Market research indicated that gender also played a role in the selection of residential paint.    It turns out that women choose interior paint more often that men do and base their selection criteria on colors available within a brand.    Men, on the other hand, make the purchasing decisions on exterior paint… and make selections based on durability and price.

An interesting aspect of this research was that painters had no role in the selection process even though they understood the chemistry and attribute differences of the brands and were best suited to select a paint brand for any particular need.

Painters, it turns out – like men in the shower – only apply the product.

So here’s today’s lesson; understanding stakeholder role distinctions is invaluable to a product’s design and subsequent marketing.    And remember… it’s not always obvious who’s REALLY your customer.    Good product managers understand this.

One response to “So… who’s really your customer?

  1. Kevin, this is the classic challenge for business and management, isn’t it? I remember once hearing from a Polaroid exec that as a company they led with technology. If it could be done, they built it, then figured out who would want it.

    It is not as easy as it sounds when dealing with B2B products, such as software, IT services, outsourced services of all sorts, etc. Determining who the buyers are, their pain levels, and the messaging to break through the wall of noise we are all surrounded by is no simple feat.

    Content marketing using long-tail search keywords can find the needles (prospects) hidden in the global haystack, but that presumes there is conviction on the need for the product. Investment into a good content strategy, backed by social media, PR and more traditional methods could wring lots of customers from the billions of viewers, or it could turn up zero response. How could that be interpreted? Wrong message, or no need for the project?

    How does your “Painters … only apply the product” apply in the corporate environment of procurement managers, recommended vendors lists, and product selection committees?

    Great to hear from you, Kevin!


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