Procter & Gamble's Pantene brand recently revamped its entire portfolio to provide more customized haircare options. Its product makeup and messaging, steeped in science, marks a trend in achieving product credibility in today's health-obsessed nation on information overload.
As consumers demand details about the products they're consuming, especially in the areas of health, beauty, and nutrition, companies are developing more technologically advanced and innovative products. As a result, marketers increasingly incorporate scientific messaging into every platform, tactic, and third-party validation strategy.
"It's important to make clear that it wasn't a refresh, but a reinvention," says Jeni Thomas, senior scientist for Pantene. "The reason for that was the science and a new understanding of hair and technology that allowed for a new approach to haircare."
Rather than rely mainly on the third-party validation of stylists during a launch of this magnitude, the brand leveraged internal scientists such as Thomas, as well as hair researchers and clinical hair experts. Working closely with the scientists, stylists were able to deliver consumer messages about the challenges associated with various hair types.
One such message was that fine hair has 50% less protein, which means it has less strength and should be styled a certain way.
"There are so many messages out there and there's definitely skepticism," explains Thomas. "Science is important to communicate that there have been years of research behind this launch. We want to make clear it's not just about marketing."Spotlight on research
Research associating hair appearance with psychological behavior supported the launch, so the science behind the strategy was particularly relevant for consumers. The Wall Street Journal reported on the R&D in late June.
"Food and nutrition brands have been in the spotlight, but there's the element of lifestyle that's sometimes overlooked," says Lynn Hanessian, president of DJE Science at Edelman.
This trend, she explains, and its psychological implications, in part inspired the firm's launch of the practice. While DJE mainly supports healthcare clients, it also aids consumer brands that Hanessian declines to disclose.
A brand with nutritional implications is an obvious candidate for scientific positioning.
Having conducted research with 1,500 moms around the US last year, PureCircle, the producer of 80% of the world's no-calorie sweetener Stevia, found that moms liked the idea of the product, but didn't fully believe in its safety or benefits.
"There's work still be done to educate and create trust," says Jason Hecker, VP of global marketing at PureCircle.A simple message
The brand launched the Global Stevia Institute, comprising a website and health professional members from Europe and the US, to help educate consumers in the US and Latin America about the product's benefits.
"It's not bringing on someone as a spokesperson who can speak about a branded product," he says. "It's taking interesting science and helping to identify ways to interpret and communicate it in a way people can understand."
Members are helping to craft simple messaging and conduct outreach, while the website serves as a repository of information surrounding the science, regulatory approvals, and continuing scientific research in the industry.
"This is a natural ingredient," says Hecker of the message the institute is stressing. "It tastes great, but can be used to help reduce calories in products, which is important in a world with a growing obesity problem. It's something you can trust and it's safe."
Linda Eatherton, partner and director of the global food and nutrition practice at Ketchum, the agency assisting PureCircle, says leveraging science is necessary to provide consumers with third-party validation.
"We recognize the importance of engaging in scientific con-versation about nutrition and science," she notes. "Science begins to tell the story."The science of product outreach Clearasil
In June, the Reckitt Benckiser brand tapped a dermatologist and certified sleep expert to serve as spokespeople for its "Science of Looking Awesome" campaign. The strategy, in line with the mission to improve consumer confidence through skin science, includes skin-science education, esteem-building messaging, and product- technology innovation
The pomegranite juice company promotes the fact that over the past 10 years or so it has provided $34 million-plus in funding to support scientific research on POM products at various institutions worldwide. Much of the brand's marketing includes scientific information explaining the health benefits of antioxidants