"We saw an opportunity through innovation to give consumers something new and better than an old-fashioned bar soap and washcloth," recalls Tim Zimmerman, 41, Jergens senior VP-marketing.
Shower gels or body washes weren't new in the U.S., but they had never caught on. Mr. Zimmerman and his multidisciplinary team-Jergens' first-ever to take a multifunctional approach to brand development and launch-thought in terms of a global trend.
In some countries, liquid body cleansers account for up to 86% of the liquid soap category. The problem in the U.S., Jergens determined, was that previous introductions hadn't been well funded and the formulas often left a funny after-feel. Nor were consumers given an applicator to replace their washcloths.
Jergens Refreshing Body Shampoo, complete with hollow-center sponge, scrubbed that slate clean.
Starting in March '94, Jergens drove demand for the pH-balanced, non-soap formula through a $50 million TV and print advertising campaign and direct mail sampling effort. By the second half of 1994, the company was offering a free sponge with any purchase of an economically priced 8 oz. body shampoo.
The body shampoo has raised Jergen's total share of the $2 billion personal cleansing market (including bar soaps and liquids) by two percentage points, to more than 6%. In its first year, the brand was No. 1 in the small but growing $158 million liquid body cleanser market.
Jergens' success has spurred competition-from Lever Bros., Procter & Gamble and Dial Corp., for a total of eight new products since 1994. But Mr. Zimmerman is determined to keep cleaning up in the category with new innovations, such as sponges in different colors, including animal-shaped sponges for kids. It's also extending beyond its original and deodorant formulas with a new moisturizing formula.
His ambitions are evident in the new ad theme from Suissa Miller: "The switch is on."
"Jergens Body Shampoo has set the stage for more things to come," Mr. Zimmerman says.