by Paul Goater | Comments: 0

It’s seldom that a new razor blade gets coverage from both the Wall Street Journal and the Harvard Business Review. Gillette Guard did. Find out why.

Described as one of the most significant product launches in Gillette’s history, the Gillette Guard was launched in the Indian market in 2010. There, over half a billion men were shaving with double-edged razors or not at all – because that’s all they could afford.

Proctor & Gamble’s 2011 Annual Report described how the company addressed this enormous challenge by getting closer to the market, and developing a new product specifically tailored for Indian men.

In thousands of interviews, home visits and shopping trips, the team gained a deep understanding of the role shaving plays in the lives of Indian men.

Within 3 months after it launched, Gillette Guard became the best-selling razor in India. Within the first 8 months of launch, 11 million men had tried Gillette Guard…. Today, more than half of the razors sold in India are Gillette Guard.

Harvard Business Review described three innovation lessons – both in marketing and branding – to be taken from the Gillette Guard. Among them, “Match the model to the market…. Succeeding in India requires new manufacturing, distribution and promotion approaches.”

What Gillette has done is to make shaving safe and inexpensive to a new market of half a billion men. The razor costs 15 rupees, or 34 cents, and uses blades that cost five rupees, or 11 cents. The Mach 3 blades it had been selling in India cost 20 times as much.

Then, Gillette adopted promotional and advertising campaigns unique to the Indian market and its consumers. Packaging makes the low-price an eye-catcher, and shows a handsome young Indian man easily shaving himself. This, together with large Gillette branding, make a compelling case.

And, for a little fun, check out the upbeat Bollywood-style advertising Gillette created to drive awareness in the Indian market.

The Wall Street Journal calls the Gillette Guard an example of newfound boldness from Proctor & Gamble, as it required the company to change strategic course. It meant reverse engineering products around a pre-established price that local customers are willing to pay.

It also means taking a more intensive and local approach to marketing, putting products specifically meant for that market in settings and in contexts that resonate with consumers there.

This localization message is one that Elateral is driving for big brands. Because there are at least two crucial steps to winning in developing markets: the right product and the right promotion. We help make sure the promotions are customized the right way. Find out how we do it with customized point-of-sale services

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