This entry is about the proposed appointment of Gillette CEO Kilts to the CEO position at Coca-Cola. It argues that the Gillette Mach III brand now stands where the Coca-Cola one did when the latter was caught napping by Pepsi.
We know two things about the consumer market place.
1) It is fragmenting. Mass markets are being replaced by micro ones.
“Television used to provide big-tent programming designed to appeal to a lot of people, with characters and story arcs that would appeal to everyone, says Alan Wurtzel, president for research and media development at NBC. “Now you find audiences are very, very specific.1
The magazine consumer has also proliferated. In the place of the once dominant, big magazines, Time, Life, and Newsweek, there are now some 24,000 general and special interest periodicals, with 160 of these have a circulation of over a half million subscribers.2
Marketers are now a lot like Bill Pennington on the ski slope.
“[P]eople [used to go] to such lengths to fit in. You were supposed to ski a certain way on certain equipment, which varied in meager ways. Dress varied the least of all. Why, it appeared there was a uniform out there some days.”
Pennington sees a new world racing towards him on the slope.
“It looked as if some sort of adult/child recess had let out. People were coming down on skis, snowboards, ski boards, snowblades, twin-tipped skis, monoskis, ski skates and bikes with tiny skis. Ski bikes! If there were a dress code, it had a hysterical sweep and latitude.”3
2) Most of the consumer definitions in the marketplace are changing often and a lot. I do not have any useful little quotes here. Please see the book called Transformation on this website.
So what has this got to do with Gillettes Mach III? It is a great, undifferentiated brand that appears to speak to none of the innovations or variations that have taken place with regard to gender in the last 20 years. “Maleness has undergone some pretty astonishing changes and Gillette continues to pitch men with a single message and a message that has rather too much in common with the brand strategies of the 1950s.
Mach 3 is a simple left-over from the “man as machine notion, and more particularly man as “vehicle of transport, especially prized when complete with military associations and science associations. (I have worked out the connections for the 1950s in a paper called “when cars could fly which will appear in a collection called Culture and Consumption II: markets, meanings and brand management which will appear from Indiana University Press in late 04 or early 05. In the meantime, I am happy to send those who would one, an electronic copy.)
But the point I wish to make is a simple one. Mach III is precisely the kind of brand that Coca-Cola was one Pepsi attached and forced it, rather belated, to turn the classic brand into something more responsive to contemporary culture and the company to launch a lots of other brands to speak to the new variety and dynamism of the marketplace. In sum, Gillette is now what Coca-Cola was when Coca-Cola was caught napping by Pepsi.
So good news today perhaps that Kilts, the Gillette CEO, has decided not to take the CEO job at Coke.
1. in Salamon, Julie 2001. When It Comes to TV, Coveted Adolescents Prove to Be Unpredictable. New York Times. March 13, 2001.
3. Pennington, Bill. 2003. Diversity All Over Mount Megaplex. New York Times, March 6, 2003