What is Wrong with This Product?

A video has been going around the social networking sites that I believe teaches a powerful marketing lesson.  You can find it here and I suggest you watch it:


It shows Ellen DeGeneres roasting Bic Pens over a new product they had asked her to promote.

Let’s take a look at what went wrong:

  1. Bic has used the “For Her” branding on their line of women’s razors to highlight features that conform better to women’s usage needs. The marketing people at the company clearly thought of the “For Her” brand as an asset and decided it could be expanded into other products. While the razors may have some features that made their use on women’s leg, underarm and bikini areas more effective than using the normal men’s products, a mere presentation of pink and purple colors does not constitute factors that make these pens more effective for a woman’s needs. In fact, it makes me wonder whether the coloring on the “For Her” razors is the only difference in features.
  2. It is a foolish use of an established and valuable brand. The “For Her” shaving line makes sense. Pink and purple pens do not. Women use shaving razors on different places than men, but the same does not apply to pens. Yes, a woman who wants to use a pink or purple pen might buy the package, but I am a woman and I would like yellow and green pens, myself.  It seems to me that a successful brand of women’s shaving products gets diluted by the addition of products that are somewhat questionable in relevance.

This lesson applies broadly. It is kind of a skewed reiteration of the old warning “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!”

When introducing a new product line, take a careful look at how you are branding it. I can see that Bic probably thought creating a line of pretty pens might sell to the women’s market, but who buys a razor and then says “Wow! I can now buy a matching pen! Won’t my friends be envious…” A brand name like “Pretty Pens” would be much more appealing and probably sell better because it identifies the true difference between those pens and other pens on the market.

The take-away is the same one Coca Cola learned when it introduced “New Coke” in a classic marketing mistake. Their consumers liked Coke the way it was. It was a brand that had a specific function as the preferred taste choice for millions of people. Did they want it to change? The answer was a resounding “No!” Changing Coke was not necessary. Adding a line of pens to a well-established line of women’s shaving products was also not necessary.

If you are looking to add a new revenue stream with a new product, brand that product according to its function. Don’t attempt to fit it in somehow to the branding for another product.


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