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L'OREAL'S P'TIT DOP JULIA FEDOU [PARIS, FRANCE]

By Published on .

The introduction of P'tit Dop shower gel should have been a no-brainer. But even after scoring a 1994 coup with a kids' shampoo under the P'tit Dop name, L'Oreal's Lascad divison used caution in extending the more than 60-year-old Dop franchise once again.

"[The shower gel] was so obvious once we thought of it," said Julia Fedou, Lascad general manager and the architect of P'tit Dop's success. "But we wanted the products to bring a real service and not be a marketing gimmick. . . .

Dop was an institution in itself with values and an image which were important not to alter."

Introduced in 1934 as the first shampoo without soap, the venerable Dop had a strong following among consumers over age 25. But the youth market for toiletries had been overlooked. Lascad's research found that while there were products for babies and adults, there were virtually none for children ages 4 to 12, a market of 7.5 million consumers.

Ms. Fedou's genius was in targeting tots. Like the shampoo before it, P'tit Dop was packaged to appeal to kids, with an innovative whale-shape package and a parent-pleasing mild formula. Its fruity scent also was carefully crafted to be appealing-but not so appealing that kids would try to taste it.

Under Ms. Fedou's stewardship, P'tit Dop shower gel advertising also took a new tone in the category, following in the steps of the innovative shampoo. The first toiletries campaign to address itself directly to children in a playful way, TV and print from Exclamation, Paris, tried to take the drama out of washing, turning the P'tit Dop usage occasion into a happy moment. The sing-song chant in the ads promised that "[P'tit Dop] doesn't hurt the eyes. It doesn't hurt the skin."

The strategy enabled P'tit Dop to clean up in the shower gel category. Since its introduction in 1995, P'tit Dop has garnered 5% of the $392.4 million shower gel category. That follows on the heels of P'tit Dop's success in kids' shampoo. Launched in 1994, the Lascad kids' brand has sold 14.5 million units to date and represents 9% of the $490.5 million total shampoo category. Among children's shampoos, P'tit Dop enjoys a 60% share of that $31.4 million market.

The halo, moreover, spilled over into the adult arena as Dop's established but rather antiquated image was updated by the kids' lines.

"We transformed a brand which had a history into a brand with an even bigger history but oriented now toward the future," said Ms. Fedou. "P'tit Dop's success allows us to be more daring on Dop," she said, noting that the adult brand also has been relaunched and repositioned.

Lascad's success in opening a new segment has triggered interest among other L'Oreal subsidiaries. P'tit Dop was launched in Italy earlier this year under the name Piccolo L'Oreal, and in the next few months the brand, dubbed P'tit L'Oreal, will enter Belgium.

But for Ms. Fedou, the success at home is sweetest. "Dop is such a mythical brand that every marketing manager at L'Oreal dreamt of giving it a new youth," she said.

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