While beauty brands may find it hard to reach women whose priorities shift after having children, Suave was able to reposition itself from being a value brand to a quality beauty brand that moms choose by forging a highly-relevant emotional connection with them.
For several years prior to its repositioning, Suave had owned a value brand position through its tagline, “Can you tell?” that referred to the fact that there was no quality difference between Suave and a more expensive brand of shampoo. The brand had an explicitly functional value position because it was interested in reaching budget-conscious women who wanted a quality shampoo.
In 2007, Suave created big news by establishing an emotional bond with mothers through its repositioning campaign. The marketing campaign connected with moms on an emotional level by leveraging the insight that women tend to downgrade beauty as a priority when they become mothers, because they feel guilty if they prioritize taking care of themselves. However, Suave reported in a press release that moms said they felt happier, more attractive and more self-confident when they cared for their own needs. A 2006 USA Today piece agreed, touting the rise of “the mommy diva.” Hence, Suave tried to reach moms by speaking to them as women who fulfill multiple roles.
The brand told Mom that using Suave doesn’t require them to choose between being a mom and looking attractive. Rather than sacrifice on necessities for her kids, Mom could stay within her budget with Suave and still feel pretty due to the fact that Suave was a value brand whose performance was indistinguishable from more expensive beauty products. This positioning is apparent on the brand’s website, which states, “Suave believes you can have model hair and be a model mom. Our perfectly performing, well-priced products can help moms everywhere.”
According to brand strategist Marcelle Saporta, Suave had to walk a fine line in this communication strategy, because the brand could not take a negative or accusatory tone with moms. Rather, the campaign acknowledged that motherhood requires a shift in priorities, and the company helped forge emotional relevance with moms. For example, the copy in one ad shows a picture of a mom with a mop on her hair and reads, “When listing her priorities, the average mom ranks doing the floors higher than doing her hair,” and closes with the tagline, “Say yes to beautiful without paying the price.” Generalized references to “motherhood” and the use of endearing words like “mommy” in the campaign made the message more approachable for moms.
Earlier this year, Suave partnered with NBC’s show “Fashion Star.” Shows like this and “Project Runway” are incredibly popular with moms, further helping build the Suave brand in Mom’s perception.
The repositioning helped elevate Suave’s performance credentials among women and especially moms. Instead of remaining with a purely functional positioning (same quality, lower price) and relying on the consumer to connect the dots, Suave explicitly communicated the benefit to Mom: “Say yes to beautiful, without paying the price.” Only a highly-targeted market segmentation can achieve these meaningful connections with consumers.
Suave saw a rise in its key brand indicators, approximately a 50% increase in the proportion of moms claiming that Suave is “a high quality brand.”