Unilever’s AXE offers a range of male grooming products, including a variety of popular body sprays and deodorants, shaving products, shower gels, etc. The products are sold in over 100 countries, which have different market demands and opportunities, as well as local competitors, which is why there is a need for a strong market strategy that would address the possible threats and allow the brand to keep its place as a major player in most of the global markets.
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Initially, the main idea behind AXE body sprays and deodorants was to give men a secret tool to attract women. The majority of the brand’s customers were young men looking to gain some extra confidence before approaching women, and AXE’s marketing was tailored to fit this audience’s needs. For instance, the company’s 2011 campaign featured AXE Angels, several beautiful women who, according to the video ad, descended from heaven upon smelling the AXE Effect spray on a man. Such controversial campaigns have caused a lot of hype among the public, but the public was not always positive for the brand. Numerous customers filed lawsuits against the brand’s false advertising.
Moreover, given the recent social development towards the equality of male and female rights, adverts representing women as targets to be achieved by men have also contributed to a negative image of the brand. Another issue is the narrow target consumer category of the brand: until recently, the marketing was aimed at young men between 16 and 25 years old, a relatively narrow audience for a cosmetic brand. Finally, the recent economic crisis resulted in global job cuts, affecting many people’s income in the target markets.
The price of AXE body sprays is relatively high compared to deodorants from other companies, such as Nivea, Old Spice, and so on, which means that the customers might prefer in the current economic situation other products due to their lower prices. Furthermore, the brand may also experience difficulties due to the popularization of unisex products worldwide. In the last several years, the development of the fashion industry destroyed gender barriers, causing a rise in unisex product lines. The trend extended to the perfume and cosmetic industry, and many customers now see unsex products as both trendy and effective. Further development of unisex products may cause a decline in the customers’ interest in gender-selective brands, affecting AXE’s popularity.
Overall, in the current market situation, AXE could benefit from developing products in different price ranges and expanding its target consumer profile to include men of older ages. The present marketing campaign that is run by AXE could be the first step in promoting the diversity of customers. The new campaign called ‘Find Your Magic’ encourages young men to be their best selves and not see the male model’s appearance as the ultimate ideal, promoting positivity and individuality among men. The campaign is also a lot less controversial than the previous ones since there is no emphasis on ‘getting the girl,’ which was one of the main causes of the brand’s legal issues and negative publicity. Thus, the new marketing strategy contributes to the restoration of a positive brand image. Developing this strategy further could allow AXE to fight the current market threats and hold the market leader’s position in male grooming products.