Downy- Procter and Gamble

Fabric softeners are low involvement products. Consumers tend to be more hand loyal than heart or head loyal. Therefore, promote awareness, encourage trial and stimulate interest should be the objectives of the company. Target market for this product in US, is married women or young women.  For low involvement products, generally there is not any clear distinction between products. That is the one of the main reasons why people switch brands easily in these types of products. For this ad, the message is, “it is a new scent” composed of citrus and ginger (which is very popular and likable in American culture as far as I know) why don’t you try it? This product has a product-benefit appeal.

The motivational reasons for purchasing the product (Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs) are safety because we like family’s clothes to be soft in order not to irritate the body which is important for skin health or esteem needs, we like to be respected by others and be confident if our clothes smell good which creates an image that we are clean. For hand loyal people, if the price is cheaper they tend to choose Downy, or another motive to buy Downy by looking to this ad can be the hidden message they give, this scent is new and special to us. Potential customers (early adopters) or even store visitors can be curious how ginger would smell in a softener and try it.

When we look at the Learn- Feel- Do Model, fabric softener-low involvement product-, the hierarchy can be like Do-Feel-Learn as well as Learn-Do-Feel. Consumers can see and learn about the product in both internal and external search. For low involvement products it is crucial to create brand awareness through brand recall or recognition. If this ad affects the potential buyer, she will go to buy a fabric softener and when she sees the brand she will recognize it and associate it with this particular ad or while making a shopping list, she may think about the names of fabric softeners and then they can either remember the orange or the title of the ad from their memory. In this case, word of mouth, referral of a friend or relative is also effective in decision making process. For instance, family referrals would be crucial to use this brand, mothers seem to be the expert in this area therefore, if the family (mother) uses this particular brand and happy with it, it is much easier for the company to reach the daughter.

There is a unique selling proposition in this ad. USP is defined as “Buy this product and you will get this benefit” Downy’s ad asks “Ginger and Citrus: Mash them together and what do you get?” It is proposition is a new and a great scent for fabrics.  When a potential consumer exposed to  this advertisement, firstly she will think what is it (product/message thoughts)The rational cognitive response would be “is this a new kind of juice”, because of the heading and the picture. And then she will build source-oriented thoughts such as how does it smell really after  understanding what it is. Consumers might try to figure out the smell by thinking or they might have negative feelings because they do not favor one of the scents mentioned in the ad. Finally, she will either have positive or negative thoughts toward the ad. After this process attitudes are built and the final stage purchase happens accordingly. In low involvement products creating a differentiation in order to be recalled in the store is essential. When we understand that the product offers a new, mixed scent for fabric softener, this ad makes us wonder, curious how it smells? Alone this curiosity can make some consumers visit store and try the product.

Downy positions itself by product characteristics. In this ad they position the product benefit as a new different, scent composed of ginger and citrus. This can be an effective strategy for the people who like to change their softeners scent often and want different scent. There is a symbol but the brand does not use it for positioning, uses the symbol for humor and a visual content of the headline and the actual message behind the ad.

This ad seems very clear but actually it screams out to draw attention. A ginger hair orange is isolated in a white page is isolation technique which draws attention. There is a very vague Z-shape in the ad which is another way to draw attention. In addition to all these, there is unity in this ad. The title’s, question’s and symbols color are same. Many companies use direct response advertising to sell their products this question “Mash them together and what do you get?” is direct response adv. There is an indirect headline which identifies the product but it is not easy to understand what is the product from the headline.  It is provacative enough to get readers’ attention. There is not any body copy. The brand name is not capturing the attention in the initial phase but the symbol (orange) does, so visual elements are more important and obvious in this ad. Orange is the personality symbol of Downy’s new scent and humor is used in this print ad. In low involvement products it is common to use humor because special effort is needed to draw attention.

I rate this advertisement as 5. Downy created a creative ad, it makes people to think about what does this orange means? Either customers like it or not, the orange captured our attentions therefore, it is probable that we will recall this brand compared to others. With that ad, they reduce the counter- arguments, for instance if they used comparison and came up with “softer softener than…” it is an invitation for “expert house masters” to defense their own product which they use for years and very satisfied with it. In addition to counter-arguments, market leader should not use comparison, in order not to remind other small brand names, like this ad. It is not exhausting to look at the ad and it captures attention. It is a good and interesting ad for a fabric softener.


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