NEW YORK – Colgate Palmolive is taking a smart path with some of its older brands, namely Speed Stick and Irish Spring. In recent weeks the company has updated advertising for the products, and included them in coupon supplements mailed with the Wall Street Journal and other publications.
Colgate can ill afford for these gems of brands to decline; in every category major brands are fighting competition, yet in health and beauty consumer products, branding is one area where products can be differentiated, and not duplicated.
For instance, Amazon can sell its own diapers and batteries, and we will change brands on price. But a product with a smell and a history is very difficult to steal market share away from if the product is consistent and thoughtfully distributed. Thus, American men are well used to the smell of Speed Stick and Irish Spring, and if they like it, they will “stick” with it, whether purchased at grocery, Amazon, CVS or Walmart.
Speed Stick is one of the best brands of men’s deodorant; it has a legacy from Colgate’s purchase of Mennen, the 19th century men’s products company. Colgate still quite wisely uses the Mennen name, as it still carries brand equity, particularly in the Northeast. Many millions still know the “by Mennen” advertising notes, almost as familiar as the three-note NBC chimes. Hundreds of thousands know the Mennen Arena in Morristown, N.J. Mennen, as far as I can see, only appears on Speed Stick and Skin Bracer Products, though it may be on other brands that I do not know. The current Speed Stick packaging has “by Mennen” at the bottom of the package in tiny type.
Future Plans for Mennen
What is the future of Mennen? Colgate would do well to look at the older products that were associated with Mennen. Certainly the revival of Gold Bond powder could be a lesson, as Mennen was well known for its men’s powder. Other specialty products might be useful, for instance shaving cream and face lotions might go after the millennial and younger crowd. Targeting free giveaways to the growing network of traditional barber shops might be an excellent combination for the brand.
Unfortunately, Colgate has not done well by Cashmere Bouquet. It is odd that a brand like Cashmere Bouquet, which was the Burt’s Bees of its time, is so maligned and ignored, and if it is found, it is sold as a discount brand. Colgate would do well to look at brands like Keihl’s and Burt’s Bees, and devise a way to reinvigorate Cashmere Bouquet along those lines. Emphasize the 1872, look at the original formula for the brand, research original packaging, and take the product back to its essence.