Is selling a generic benefit of a category a differentiated advertising strategy? There are several aspects at play including:
(a) status of the brand within the category: a brand can be a distant 3rd of 4th in a category which has a clear established leader who literally defines the category. In that scenario selling a generic benefit may not be very useful. Glucon D among glucose powder brands, Godrej in locks, LIC in life insurance come to mind. On the other hand, a leader can promote the benefit of a category and hope to benefit from it. Colgate successfully takes on a leadership stance by promoting oral health by organising free checkups.
(b) differentiated product story: even in categories where genuine product differentiations are difficult to come by, some brands manage to find a unique angle. In insurance, quality of the insurance agent (honest advisor as opposed to a pushy salesman), the brand’s approach to the category and the consumer (Bharti Axa’s humane, sympathetic approach) have been relevant angles
(c) presenting the generic benefit of the category in a refreshingly new manner: the dependence on the creative execution is high here. Asian Paints’ ‘har ghar kuch kehta hai’, Fevicol’s long running campaigns on ‘stickiness’, several soft drink campaigns could be some examples
(d) adoption of the category in a market: if the category is new and if a habit has to be created, several brands within the category resort to a generic sell. Satellite dish brands had to sell the benefit of the category first. It continues even with the introduction of Digital Video Recording, where refreshing new angles are being found to sell a generic benefit.
(e) selling an extended or laddered benefit as against an immediate apparent benefit. Examples abound of each of the above scenarios across categories: from soaps, to insurance to telecom to luggage.
Generally, marketers believe that merely selling a category promise will benefit the category leader. But in most categories where differentiation between brands is either minuscule, irrelevant or non-existent many brands do a generic sell. Take insurance for example – several brands in that category sell the generic benefit of the category – be it Life or General Insurance. Some brands attempt to focus on what makes them different – the quality of their insurance agents or the brand’s honest approach to the consumer (e.g Bharti Axa). Similarly, soap brands sell the generic benefit of freshness or beauty and some manage to stand out in the clutter due to the creative idea or execution. Telecom brands often go beyond merely talking about tariff plans by positioning themselves as enablers of productivity and enhancing relationships.
In this context, an interesting print campaign from J&J on the benefits of parenting caught my eye. In a way, it sells the extended benefit of baby care category – the joy of parenting. It was created to promote Baby.com the parenting portal.
Agency: Roberts + Langer DDB
The campaign is sure to resonate with parents of infants and kind of reiterates their feelings towards parenting. The beauty of this effort is that it’d be credible only if the brand is Johnson & Johnson. That’s the power of being a leader and importantly taking a leadership stance.