The introduction of the Sensor Shaving System, one of the biggest product launches ever, forced Gillette to reevaluate its strategy in its shaving and non-shaving business. It had to decide whether to go ahead with the launch and if so, at what scale. Gillette’s top management had to make very important decisions regarding the launch of its Sensor line. They are questioning, on which markets to focus their launch, how aggressive this launch should be and most importantly how much to invest in this new product launch.
Product segmentation Their decision to proceed with Sensor as a cartridge system appears to be wise. This opinion is based on the following points: 1) As mentioned in the case (pg. 6) “Gillette had demonstrated an ability to sustain a large lead over BIC in disposables”. That means that the products’ sales and performance in the disposable segment was satisfactory. 2) Pg. 6 – “The Atra Plus cartridge that Gillette launched in the U. S. was only modestly successful. ” In other words Gillette’s current product in the cartridge segment was performing poorly. )
Since 1977 Gillette hasn’t introduced any new, innovative product on the market (the launch of Atra Plus in 1985, with lubricating strip, cannot be accounted as an innovation, but more as a relaunch of the already known Atria, plus another feature). Taking all points above into consideration and by estimating that a product innovation can only come from a new design and improved perceived benefit advantages, Gillette’s decision to introduce Sensor as a razor cartridge system with new design is justified.
Pricing Sensor was developed from the beginning as a wet razor system with superior benefits. These benefits are measured in closeness, comfort and appearance by the consumer. In that way, the product has to be priced in a way that its increased benefits are promoted to the consumer. Pricing it too low will have as a result extremely low margins, while at the same time destroying Sensor’s prestige image.
Pricing it too high will refrain customers from paying the premium price for such a product (razors are perceived as a trivial commodity), while at the same time there are other competitors in the market with far more attractive prices. Competition The case points out that Gillette’s competitors were quick to copy new products. The launch of Sensor will be a breakthrough in the market and will introduce a new product category the “cartridge laser cut razor with superior quality”.
Therefore it is essential for Gillette to protect their new product by pursuing patent enforcement, as they already have. This way will Gillette retain its competitive advantage and will re-introduce and position itself as a technology leader. Gillette’s new strategy As mentioned in the case (pg. 7) Symon’s three-phased strategy was: 1) Revitalize the Gillette brand name 2) Enhance Gillette’s leadership position through product innovation 3) Capitalize on the renewed strength on the brand name by extending it to other mens’ grooming products. With the launch of Sensor the first two are covered.
The superior product will definitely revitalize the brand in the consumers’ mind and will capture a significant market share from their competitors just by introducing a new product on the market, worth trying it out. As far as the third phase is concerned, it is a little risky. Gillette’s history has showed that during the time the company had a broader product portfolio (from disposables, dental products to shaving systems), it was struggling to meet its “sustained profitable growth” (pg. 3). It is a fact that Gillette carries the value of strong brand in the shaving department.
Instead of re-investing Sensor’s profits in an already tested and failed venture, it would make much more sense to capitalize on their renewed strength and take advantage of their breakthrough innovation to try and capture a larger market share in countries where their presence is not that strong (Japan, as stated in the case, is an excellent opportunity). Marketing is the most critical part of the launch. In order to ensure that it captures and enhances the perceived benefits to consumers and introduces a superior product to the market, a proper advertising strategy is essential.
In the case it is stated that a common advertising pattern will be developed for all countries, with the same visuals and music and only differentiating the language accordingly. This is not the right approach. Marketing campaigns should be tailored to position and/or introduce Gillette uniquely in different countries/cultures and markets. It should take into account the cultural area and its current presence in each country. In other words, each marketing campaign should be customized either to strengthen Gillette’s leadership position or establish itself as an innovator.
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