Thursday, 17 May 2012

Marketing longevity- the story of Chanel No.5

So I have been seeing this ad in a number of bus stops around Brisbane recently and it got me thinking about how Chanel are incredibly smart with their advertising, and have been for the last 87 years.

Chanel No. 5 has moved beyond the realm of simply being a perfume product, and has become an icon. Men and women are familiar with the name of this product, and have been since 1925, even if they have never smelt the scent. As such their current advertising says it all- we don’t need fancy taglines, messages or celebrity endorsements, you know who we are, just seeing a picture of the product will make you want to buy it!

Chanel No. 5, launched in 1925, was cleverly marketed from the beginning. It became the perfume of choice for the elite, after it was launched to a select group of friends of Coco Chanel at what was essentially a promotional event. The product still now has the reputation of high end glamour and luxury. The perfume was then sold in high end boutique stores, and really existed on word of mouth sales, as advertising was minimalistic, again cementing the sense of superiority.

During World War II, an innovative marketing campaign was executed. To capture a middle class customer, Chanel No. 5 was sold at military exchange posts, the perfect gift for a soldiers sweetheart. This further established the products luxurious and romantic status - now it just had an even larger customer base.

It was the 1950’s which really confirmed this products staying power. We are familiar with it today because of one unsolicited line announced by Hollywood starlet Marilyn Monroe- ‘I sleep only in 5 drops of Chanel No. 5’- probably the most famous brand endorsement of all time.

During the next 50 years the advertisers moved in to fashion magazines and then moved from high end boutique stores to general retail. When the threat of being classed as a mass market fragrance presented itself the advertisers pulled the product from general retail, pulled all mass marketing and went back to boutique stores to re-establish it’s originally product position and incorporated the use of a French actress in its press ads.

The lesson which can be learnt from Chanel No.5 is to have a strong product position, stick to your key messages, and be flexible enough to evolve with the times. If you do this correctly you can have a product that transcends the ages, has a solid reputation and is recognisable to people 87 years on.

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