In an effort to capture more of the “headache” market, Novartis has introduced a new product, which seems targeted to the women who buy 65-70% of the analgesics sold. So far, so good. But the product and positioning seem curiously out of touch with the women they are trying to engage. In the new ad for Excedrin Mild Headache, we learn that the product has 35% less medicine, along with a “boost” to make it work faster:
Two Problems with This Marketing to Women Effort
- The product itself seems to be ill-conceived to meet women’s needs. To me, consumers who want less medicine will probably just take one pill instead of two. And for the label-reading market, they may have concerns about the “boost” being caffeine.
- The execution of this marketing to women campaign isn’t ideal. The basic message seems to be, “Since your kids are whiny and useless, you probably have a headache every day.” That’s not a message to inspire women’s brand loyalty.
Excedrin Extra Strength Excels in Marketing to Women
Compare the Mild Headache positioning with the Excedrin Extra Strength “Fast Fixes” marketing campaign, which is a great example of utility marketing (adding value to your consumer by offering useful resources, info or ideas). In this case, the brand is providing “life hacks” to help consumers reduce stress and hassles and help them reduce headaches. Consumers will see these not as “self interest” ads on the part of the brand, but ideas consistent with a brand goal of making like more comfortable for the consumer. Here’s an example video of Fast Fixes for four Family:
Another thing I like about the Fast Fixes marketing campaign is that is seems to be targeted to women, but it is not at all “pink.” It’s a wonderful example of what I call “Transparent Marketing” — addressing women’s needs and activities without explicitly saying your brand is for women. Every element in the campaign is gender-neutral, which is how it should be.
It’s interesting how one parent company can at the same time be so clueless and so masterful at marketing to women. My advice to Novartis is to be more extra strength and less mild!