ZEST BECKONS GUYS TO BODY WASH

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Procter & Gamble Co. wants to make body washes a family affair with new Zest Body Wash.

Top brands in the $285 million shower gel market all skew toward women, including entries from category pioneer Andrew Jergens Co. positioned as all-family products.

P&G hopes Zest Body Wash, said by retailers to be backed by $16 million in marketing on top of $25 million in media support for Zest bar soap, will attract more males.

BODY WASH `CHALLENGE'

"It is still a challenge to launch a body wash targeted to the family and the male consumer in the U.S.," said Yukari Inoue, P&G marketing director-personal cleansing. "So far, two obstacles have not been overcome-the consumer perception of body washes as luxurious female products and the price premium they represent compared to bars."

STRONG MALE IMAGE

To tackle those problems, P&G has taken the Zest brand and its strong male image, and translated it to a body wash delivered in a guy-friendly blue gel that works into a lather with just a modest drop.

On a per-ounce basis, it's priced below many body washes.

Advertising from Jordan, McGrath, Case & Taylor, New York, breaks in April magazines due out this month and on TV March 18. The theme: "Gives everybody cleaner, smoother skin."

The market as defined by Information Resources Inc. saw sales jump 154.7% in 1995; P&G's Oil of Olay 2-in-1 Moisturizing Body Wash led with a 29.8% share. Lagging are Dial Corp.'s Moisturizing Dial Plus Antibacterial Body Wash, with just a 2.3% share, and Lever Bros.' Lever 2000 Body Wash, introduced in October and tracking at 1.4%.

One male turnoff P&G hasn't managed to get around is that body washes are best used with a sponge, which P&G is including with the gel.

"Men are less adventuresome when it comes to new products and less likely to use one that requires an accessory," said Scott Nesbitt, Jergens senior marketing manager. "It's a real challenge."

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