Thursday, September 25, 2008

Brand Update : Whisper

It has been long time I updated about the brand Whisper. Whisper has been a challenger brand . During the launch in 1989, this brand challenged the market leader Stayfree which was rather complacent from being the market creator and the leader. 

By smart brand building, Whisper made Stayfree shudder by garnering 40% share in the market. 
The last two years has seen a brilliant marketing fight between Stayfree and Whisper. Johnson & Johnson sharpened their marketing skills and regained its dominant position by waging a price war. 

J&J knew that P&G was burdened with high cost and it could not lower the price of Whisper. Further Whisper was positioned as a premium brand. The price was enabled Stayfree to retain the leadership position in the Rs 700 crore Sanitary Napkin market in India.

But Whisper did carry the fight on price by launching Whisper Choice which was the affordable variant for the price sensitive consumer. Its expected that Whisper Choice will bring in the volumes and take on the fight for leadership position.
Another significant development which prompted me to update this brand is the current campaign. 

Whisper has recently launched its global campaign "  Have a Happy Period " campaign in the Indian market. I sat in a state of disbelief when I first came across the campaign that boldly used the word " Period " ( common usage for Menstrual period) .  I think its the first time in India that some brand has expressively used this term in the mass media. 

Most of the ads for sanitary napkins shy away from the usage of  word 'Periods'  in their ads . Most used term was " Woh Din " meaning ' those days ' to denote the menstrual periods. So the new campaign made me curios as to whether Indian consumers have  matured enough to hear such terms through mass media. 

The campaign " Have a Happy Period " was created in 2005 by Ms Denise Fedowa who was a VP at Leo Burnett Chicago. This campaign is still running across various countries.  According to a report in Adweek, research shows that consumers are telling the marketers to be transparent and frank in their communications. 

The success of this campaign is a proof that consumers are  accepting frankness in marketing communication as long as it does not cross the limit of decency . 
Read a wonderful article in adweek here : Talk Dirty

P&G thinks that Indian consumers are also mature enough to understand the new found frankness with regard to Whisper. I agree because the TG of Whisper belongs to the educated sophisticated ladies who have more liberal world view. We are living in a generation where parents are not shy in telling their kids about menstrual periods and physiological changes. 

What is more interesting is that along with these campaigns, P&G is also running a below-the-line campaign called  Whisper School Health and Hygiene Education . The program tries to educate the teens about hygiene and care during these periods. The samples of Whisper is also distributed to the Teens. 

The idea behind the campaign is to catch the customers at the Point of Market Entry Stage . ( source ET). The kids are introduced to the brand at a time when they are about to use the category. And once the customer uses these kind of products, they stick to the brand. 
In order to build a community around the brand and also to encourage customers to talk about the brand, Whisper has launched a website specifically for this brand. The site is which encourages the customers to interact with each other. The site also serves as a media to spread product information and new launches from the brand. 

I used to tell in marketing classes that one of the ways to increase the sales of a product is to find new uses for the product. I found an interesting report that AIIMS is planning to use sanitary napkins as bandages because its hygienic and have excellent absorbing qualities. Read here . 

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