Philips finds secret weapon to launch shaver

Digital media is hip, private and popular

By Published on .

SHANGHAI--Philips Consumer Electronics went online to launch the 800 Series electric shaver in China, one of the biggest internet markets in the world.

“Philips will always look at where our consumers are and try to come up with simple yet innovative way to reach our targets there,” said Lenze Boonstra, Philips’ director of brand and media in Hong Kong.

Sales of grooming products and accessories aimed at men remain low in China. For one thing, Asian males tend to grow less facial hair than western men.

Social factors are another factor. Young, urban male consumers, the target market for pricey foreign products like a Philips shaver, probably started shaving with the same double-edged type of razors used by their fathers, who were raised during a time when more sophisticated products were unavailable (and unaffordable) in China.

While young Chinese women rushed into the marketplace, snatching up Japanese and European skin care brands, cosmetics and other personal care products, men are just beginning to explore the category.

Therefore Philips--and Procter & Gamble, which now owns Gillette--have identified the mainland as a market of great potential rather than a lost cause. In fact, China is the first country where Philips is selling the 800 series.

The digital campaign, created by DDB Worldwide’s Tribal DDB offices in Shanghai and Hong Kong, promotes the shaver as a cool “must-have secret weapon designed for success,” said Adam Good, the agency’s Hong Kong-based president, Asia/Pacific.

Although China has a large, fast-growing economy, competition for white-collar jobs is high and many male college graduates struggle to find first jobs. And dates.

The shaver’s web site, philips.com.cn/mysecretweapon, features three “hot” female advisers, said Mr. Good. Named Victoria, Jennifer and Angelina, they are collectively called My Secret Weapon.

“They provide an enticing way to shake up what is normally considered a mundane everyday activity. Our aim is to transform a traditionally taboo grooming activity into something cool and enjoyable.”

Also, the act of shaving in China is regarded as “a very private activity which is not openly discussed,” he added. So the campaign seeks to give the product “street cred” in a format that is entertaining.

The sultry, attractive advisers offer tips about etiquette, job hunting and dating (unsurprisingly, each one recommends daily use of an electric shaver) to help young Chinese men to achieve success and become more presentable. The web site is backed up with online banner ads, blogs, and viral promotions.

P&G, meanwhile, has adopted a similar strategy in China to market its Gillette Mach 3 razor portfolio. It organized a road show that visited some of the country’s top universities late last year to teach young men how to develop a shaving regimen while also offering coveted job-hunting tips. The campaign was supported with a web site as well at www.gilletteclub.com.cn.
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