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Last updated on May 18, 2023

Gillette is one of the most successful consumer brands in history. It’s been at the forefront of the razor category in the men’s grooming department for over a century. 

However, when it launched its new Gillette Fusion, it struggled to convert current customers to the newer, sleeker, improved and more expensive model.

Coupled with the 2008 Financial Crisis and lack of product awareness, people were holding back. The razor brand stubbled… I mean stumbled to get itself back up.

We break down their marketing and advertising campaign that ended up giving Gillette 20% increase in total sales in Walmart. 

How they used market segmentation and targeting in their campaigns can be applied in small businesses as well.

Let’s get shaving.

Topics Covered:
  • The customer avatar worksheet
  • Marketing at different stages of the funnel
  • Defining campaign objectives
  • Marketing for awareness and conversion campaigns

Using the Customer Avatar Worksheet

Marketing Week columnist Mark Ritson explains how, in 2010, Gillette used a combination of mass marketing that built on its brand image as ‘the best a man can get’ and targeted advertising to grow sales.

Gillette could have easily said, “but I don’t just serve men from 18-34, I serve any man who has facial hair”.

If you’re thinking this about your product too, you’ll probably want to pay a little attention here. 

Sure Gillette’s razors could be USED by everyone, but if they wanted to be the ONLY LOGICAL CHOICE for anyone in that age group, they had to target them specifically. And it was through target market segmentation that they were able to identify their:

  • Goals and Aspirations
  • Desires for themselves and those around them
  • What’s their average day like
  • Spending habits
  • Challenges when it comes to maintaining facial hair
  • Obstacles when buying a razor
  • Brands, influencers and activities they resonate with
  • Must-haves in a shaver
  • Deal killers when choosing a shaving appliance

It’s easy for business owners to get so focused on WHAT they’re selling that they forget to think about WHO they’re selling to. 

You might be interested in: The Customer Avatar Worksheet: Clarify Your Message & Attract More Leads

If a big brand like Gillette, with hundreds of thousands of customers, could still focus on the individual customer avatar, there’s no reason why small businesses can’t.

You could have the greatest product on earth, but if you’re trying to sell it to the wrong person, you’re never going to hit your sales numbers.

Through understanding the demographics and psychographics of their target customer…

Gillette was able to associate themselves with the right brands (NFL, PGA, NBA) and the right influencers (Thierry Henry, Roger Federer, Tiger Woods) to create an aspirational identity their target audience had an affinity with. 

Marketing at the different stages of the funnel

Any business owner who tracks their numbers knows that acquisition is the highest cost to their business. And it’s easiest to sell to existing customers who’ve already experienced their brand.

1. For new customers, they needed an awareness campaign. It was crucial that more people needed to know about their brand.

And so, they tapped on the captive audience of NFL, PGA, FIFA and NHL fans who played video games. And they chose these platforms because of the customer avatar activity that they’ve already identified to be their target audience.

2. The other group would be their existing customers and people who had a high purchase intent. Gillette employed a Point-of-Purchase advertising campaign with the same messaging. 

At this point, people are very ready to buy. They’re problem aware, solution aware and brand aware. They just need a little push and a logical reason to make the final decision. 

And when they’re so far down the sales funnel, they’re usually comparing products. For instance, someone looking for a new pair of CrossFit shoes might search for Nike Metcon vs Reebok Nano.

In this case, Gillette used a comparison against their own product that they wanted to upsell – getting Mach 3 users to switch to Fusion Power. 

Defining campaign objectives

The company had 3 outcomes they wanted to achieve.

1) Disrupt the men’s grooming market

2) Convert Mach3 users to Fusion

3) Increase Fusion share at Walmart

But they realised many of their customers were looking for more cost-effective options.

If you’ve been in business for long enough, you’d have come across your fair share of bargain hunters too.

They’re just shopping around for the cheapest option, not paying attention to value, but focusing on price.

How to overcome consumers looking for cheap?

The first method could be… not targeting them at all.

Let’s be real, if they don’t have the spending power, you might want to consider focusing your attention elsewhere. But Gillette decided they’d still like to include this group.

So what they did was a mix of mass marketing and niche marketing campaigns.

Mass marketing vs target market segmentation

Marketing Channels for Awareness and Conversion

Here’s how Gillette executed their mass marketing and target marketing strategies:

Above the line (Awareness)

  • Print ads
  • Radio

Below the line (conversion, ascension)

  • Digital ads (ecommerce, banner ad, google search, digital sponsorships)
  • Point of purchase advertising 

In his book Marketing to Mindstates, Founder and CEO of Trigger-Point Will Leach, breaks down the 4 factors that drive buying decisions:

Location: Is your customer in a place where they can buy your product? 

For example, if they’re driving, they probably can’t purchase it right now

People: Is there a customer around them that can sway their motivation to buy?

For example, are they around other men who are already using Fusion

Feelings: What mood is the customer in right now as they are reading your website, ad, email, etc.?

For example, did they shave wrong and now they’re chin’s all itchy

Framing: Does your message frame their problem and the solution you’re going to give them?

For example, Gillette frames its solutions based on the troubles men face when shaving and after shaving

With market segmentation and targeting, you can very specifically control how that message is framed. And target market segmentation works!

  • 91% of consumers are more likely to shop with brands giving relevant offers and recommendations 
  • 36% of consumers believe brands should be giving a more personalized marketing experience 
  • Personalization has led to:
  • 55% increase in visitor engagement
  • 55% increase in customer experience
  • 39% improvement in brand perception
  • 51% increase in conversion rates
  • 46% increase in lead generation and customer acquisition

Lessons from Gillette

  1. Understand the market and segments. Then target that specific market segment.
  2. You can promote without cutting price. Instead, promote by brand association.
  3. Ideally, you’ll want to be everywhere and do everything. 

But as a small business owner, chances are, you don’t have the same marketing budget and resources as Gilette. 

So opt for segmented marketing since it would give you the best ROI on your campaigns.

Note: Market segmentation and targeting is perfectly tailored to your customer avatar. It’s content that your customer avatar is dying to read, watch, and listen to… And ads your target market is waiting to see, even!