Branding: Old Spice Case Analysis

Table of Content

In the market since 1937, Old Spice was one of the first fragrances accessible to the mass market. It used to be a popular Father’s Day gift for baby boomers, often paired with soap on a rope. However, when Procter & Gamble acquired the brand in 1990, it lost much of its importance. To revive it, P&G shifted its focus from traditional cologne business to deodorants and other male grooming products. The objective was to compete with Unilever’s Axe products which were favored by males aged between 12 and 34 years old. P&G relied on innovative product development and new communication strategies.

Old Spice expanded its product offerings through new product development. This expansion resulted in the creation of several lines including Old Spice High Endurance, Pro Strength, and Red Zone. These lines encompassed deodorants, body washes, body sprays, and shaving products. The latest addition to the Old Spice lineup is the Ever Clear line. This particular line was inspired by feedback from focus group participants who expressed their dissatisfaction with their current deodorant through “good-bye letters”. Ever Clear stands out due to its technological breakthrough which allows it to provide the protection of a dry solid without leaving any uncomfortable waxy residue or white streaks on clothing. All Old Spice products are accompanied by tongue-in-cheek advertising that emphasizes the brand’s “experience”. Old Spice itself was originally created by the Shulton Company back in 1937.

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Interestingly, Old Spice for men was introduced in 1938 as a woman’s fragrance. However, the brand gained popularity during World War II and has since become an iconic figure in men’s grooming. The initial men’s products focused on shaving soap and aftershave lotion, which were marketed with a nautical theme. Sailing ships, in particular, were used as a trademark. Procter & Gamble acquired Old Spice from the Shulton Company in June 1990 with the intention of expanding its line of aftershaves and colognes by utilizing an established brand name in the deodorant market.

The intention was to modernize the image of the whistling sailor while preserving the masculine and rugged qualities associated with him. In February 1992, the clipper ship logo was replaced with a yacht logo. In the late 2000s, Procter & Gamble introduced various scented deodorant sticks, body washes, and body sprays under the Old Spice brand. The brand repositioning was driven by the perception among younger men that Old Spice was an old-fashioned fragrance for older men, rather than a range of grooming products they would choose. 1.

Fierce competition in the body wash segment persisted as Old Spice sales remained strong despite the brand’s declining share in the category. Additionally, Unilever’s Dove Men+Care was set to launch with a massive campaign during the Super Bowl in February 2010, with expectations of gaining substantial market share. It should be noted that Dove already had a substantial base of loyal customers. However, Old Spice faced a challenge due to its association with an old man’s image – most of its current consumers were older individuals who used the product because their fathers did. This stodgy reputation did not resonate with younger men, making them uninterested in the brand.

1. Safeguard the market share in the category.
2. Attract a new audience while maintaining loyalty among its core customers (Enhance Key Brand Measures among males aged 13 to 24 while preserving the brand’s identity).

The competitive frame of reference:
1. Target market and segmentation:
P&G conducted research which revealed that women accounted for 60% of men’s body wash purchases. This prompted them to broaden their target audience. To boost Old Spice sales, they aimed to appeal to female shoppers.

The brand’s strategic decision was to target both men and women as their audience, with the goal of encouraging women to buy Old Spice for their partners. Despite facing tough competition in the market for men’s grooming products, several companies such as Procter & Gamble, Unilever, Energizer Holdings, Beiernshof, and L’Oreal have shifted their focus from women’s grooming products to the men’s grooming sector. The market is divided into six categories: deodorants and antiperspirants, fragrances and aftershaves, hair care, personal cleansing, shaving products, and skin care products.

Old Spice is the leading brand across all male segments. Prior to the release of their “smell like a man, man” campaign in 2010, Old Spice held a 6.2% share in the body wash market. Other major brands in the male grooming industry include Gillette, Axe, TAG, Nivea for men, Neutrogena Men, and Right Guard. These brands compete for the loyalty of male consumers. While Gillette dominates traditional categories, newer brands like AXE and TAG are more prominent in newer categories like body washes.

Gillette brands are typically marketed to men of all ages who are confident and secure. These brands offer rational advantages and their advertising portrays the desired image of the brand. In contrast, brands like Axe (2003) deodorant and body wash or TAG (2005) body wash target teenagers and young men in their early twenties who are primarily interested in attracting the opposite sex. To attract this younger demographic, a more provocative style of advertising is used. Market shares are determined by positioning based on points-of-difference.

The central concept was to promote the brand’s “experience” and present Old Spice as a relatable older sibling who doesn’t take themselves too seriously.
P&G aimed to establish Old Spice as a symbol of contemporary masculinity, which presented difficulties. While young men appreciated the brand’s history, they also desired a refreshed image by removing the word “Old” from “Old Spice” and rebranding as “New Spice” or simply “Spice.” Nevertheless, the company successfully modernized the brand while preserving its authenticity, recognizing the benefits of its age from their target audience’s perspective.

They discovered that young men desired something that Old Spice possessed in abundance: EXPERIENCE. Old Spice had decades of masculine knowledge at its disposal, wisdom that it could impart to a new generation of men. This allowed them to honor the brand’s history and set Old Spice apart from competitors, specifically distinguishing the mature men of Old Spice from the immature boys of Axe, who had no experience whatsoever. Most importantly, this approach transformed a perceived negative into a positive by reframing “old” as a relevant and compelling point of distinction for the brand. Points of parity include the durability and protection of skin care products in the category. A competitive point of difference is Old Spice’s masculine scent in contrast to Axe’s girly scents. The core brand associations are body wash, newness, experience, interactiveness, freshness, manliness, and confidence. The brand mantra revolves around the emotional modifier of experience and the descriptive modifier of manliness, with the brand function being enhancement.

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Branding: Old Spice Case Analysis. (2016, Oct 26). Retrieved from

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