Last month for the holidays the P&G prestige brand The Art of Shaving set the city of New York ablaze with a sizzling new marketing campaign for Manhattan minions to join the brand’s new The Brotherhood of Shaving. In what seemed a searing tribal call for Manhattan straphangers to join this exotic new effort, The Brotherhood of Shaving ads lit up the NYC Metro system above and below ground, from billboards and kiosks to subway car signage, entertaining the “captive” male and female commuters during their daily and quite often humdrum subway rides throughout the city.
The Brotherhood of Shaving holiday subway campaign featured car-length ad spreads for those who experience the shaving ritual (face or scalp) to envision a sexy new sense of grooming. Beguiling prompts included standing under the mistletoe “without stubble”; an appeal to women to imagine an intimate gift: “Since you ask, Darling, there is something I want this year,” or a male entreaty: “This year, I will prevent the holiday sweater before it happens.”
Tagged with a seductive, elitist call to a man club, the tribal-like phrase “Welcome to the Brotherhood of Shaving,” the marketing message was captivating. It also prompted the curious intrigue and appeal of this female writer (and, I might add, devotee of skincare essential oils who appreciates the sex appeal of meticulously shaved bald men).
As a social media consumer insight analyst, of course I was compelled to learn more about the brand and, in particular, how its social media sentiment was trending among discriminating male and female skincare product customers, as well as the underlying motivational consumer drivers. Considering the pervasive scope of the P&G Art of Shaving campaign, I expected a higher volume of social data from the nine social media sources I searched in NetBase for the brand, ranging from social networks to forums and microblogs.
While The Art of Shaving experienced a relatively high net sentiment throughout last year, and elevated passion intensity particularly during its Father’s Day and end of year holiday advertising blitz, and despite the brand’s enviable distribution outlets (it’s carried in hundreds of Macy’s stores and specialty chains like Sephora, in addition to maintaining over 80 standalone stores), it was surprising to find such a low annual volume of social conversations—less than 11K mentions.
Granted, this is not your father’s drugstore Schick or Gillette razor. Offering rarified vintage-inspired shaving paraphernalia, the Art of Shaving’s Horn Classic Mach 3 can put you out $200. Some customers claim the Silvertip Badger Shaving Brush—$250 engraved—inspires introspection and evokes a sense of luxury. Yet, even with a refined niche market and the elite P&G prestige brand status, I certainly expected more social discourse. Despite initial social media reservations about brand dilution, luxury brands—from Louis Vuitton to the The Four Seasons—have embraced social media strategies, with 51% of luxury brands reporting they increased social digital spend in 2012 from the prior year and generally reserve 20-60% of their overall media spend for digital marketing.
Most of the Art of Shaving conversations occurred on Facebook and Twitter and, although the brand has both a Pinterest strategy and YouTube channel (where it airs notable celebrity testimonials and hosts seasonal cause-related campaigns, such as last year’s “Movember”), the boutique market niche domains do not generate significant social traffic—with the exception of badgerandblade.com. This leads me to suspect that the level of The Art of Shaving’s strategic social engagement with customers may be underestimated as a ROI measure of brand loyalty.
The level of social conversation among Art of Shaving customers is rich, revealing deep insights into product preferences such as scents, balm textures, as well as men’s holistic appeal, emotional and sensual association with high-end vanity products.
As our NetBase social intelligence reveals, social media certainly offers an abundant source of product innovation. Discussions such as those I discovered about skin irritations and break-outs following product use prompted men simply to buy from another high-end competitor.
Sound social customer engagement strategy would advise engagement with displeased consumers: learning more about their skin types, product application and general lifestyle. At very least to determine whether the dissatisfaction was a product formulary issue, so to institute corrective manufacturing and reintroduce to market. This discovery, as a best practice, must take place hand-in-hand with the consumer.
Customer engagement in social media is the new secret lather.