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Hair, Marilyn Monroe style

An important research insight is that for today’s consumer, hair is a tool for expressing herself and what she seeks out of life, reports Anita Sharan.
Hindustan Times | By Anita Sharan
UPDATED ON MAR 07, 2008 12:32 AM IST

Take Marilyn Monroe (the original, no less), add a Madonna and a Priyanka Chopra and you have the ingredients for a major global relaunch campaign. Or at least that’s what Unilever believes. And what’s common among the three? Their hair, of course! And Sunsilk! Haven’t you been watching TV these days?

“Sunsilk has to keep pace with its target group – at bull’s eye, that’s the 18-25-years age group of girls,” says N Rajaram, GM and category head (haircare), HUL. Unilever realised that this consumer group wants instant results. The “Life Can’t Wait” strapline in the new Sunsilk ad campaign was the result of fairly extensive research across six markets, including India.

The research also revealed that 60 per cent of girls suffer a bad hair day and don’t want to go to work. An important research insight was that for today’s consumer, hair is a tool for expressing herself and what she seeks out of life. A second insight: this target group no longer waits for things to happen. It moves out to make things happen.

The result, besides the ad strapline, was reformulation of the Sunsilk products to deliver different, instantaneous results to the hair, depending on what the consumer wants to express at that time. “Hair is one feature that you can change instantly to express yourself. Everything else, including skin, takes a length of time,” Rajaram points out. The brand is being relaunched globally.

Sunsilk has been repackaged in plastic bottles shaped like a woman’s waist. While the colours are defined by the variants, each pack has a property that looks like an elegant exclamation mark, the Sunsilk “Spark”.

Rajaram says, “Consumer playback on this conveys a sense of urgency, now, along with wow, feminine, cosmetic and playful.”

While prices have been raised by 10 per cent per bottle, cost of sachet versions remains the same. With each of the six variants, Sunsilk is offering the choice of a hair conditioner to match. It has also decided to retain the Gang-Of-Girls concept and website, but with more individualistic, achievement oriented content.

So why use the three icons in the advertising? Rajaram says, “We decided to look at icons across the world who stand for the attitude of achievement our target group holds and stand out for the journeys they have been through. Marilyn’s hair was her signature. Madonna changes her hairstyle very frequently. Chopra cuts across all strata as a self-made person.” In Indonesia, Sunsilk’s using Kris Dayanti – singer, actress, model, diva. And in the US, Shakira.

Will it all work? “There is a huge retail offtake of Sunsilk,” he points out. “Consumers are not expecting it to deliver salon transformations.

They do, however, expect tangible, post-wash results from a retail shampoo.” He says Sunsilk delivers on tangible instantaneity.

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