How do you compete against brands with wider market share and deeper pockets?
For Jeyan Heper, President of Ansell Sexual Wellness, producers of SKYN, the answer is not to outspend, but to outwit. We spoke to Jeyan at the Millennial 20/20 conference in London about the importance of insight, ice cream and soft power-thinking to leapfrog competitors.
Rare Design (RD): Jeyan, what was the challenge SKYN faced before the Feel Everything campaign?
Jeyan Heper, SKYN: The first challenge we had to deal was to move from offering a good product to having a great brand.
SKYN was introduced almost a decade ago as a major innovation in the category. Made of polyisoprene, our condoms are soft and seamless, allowing consumers to Feel Everything.
Our initial product launch was too focused on the product side. It was missing our customers’ emotions and what they wanted from our brand. The biggest challenge for us was to move the brand from product-centric, innovation-focused communication to emotional communication, and to go through this journey with our customers to understand what they wanted. We needed to know how they view their relationships and our brand’s role in them.
RD: Let’s talk about the insight behind the campaign. What were the questions you sought to answer, and what answers did you arrive at?
Jeyan: Our ideas came directly from consumer research. We knew that once you use SKYN condoms, you’re likely to never go back to another brand because it’s such a great, fulfilling experience. This insight was confirmed by our research. Although 97% of SKYN users surveyed recommend the brand to their friends, peers and colleagues, the number of people who used SKYN condoms twice was, in reality, lower.
How could we change that, and bring SKYN to a larger group of people to make them aware of the brand? Up until that point, our communications had revolved around functional benefits, like the fact that our non-latex condoms felt like wearing nothing during sex. Consumers would subsequently ask why do I need a non-latex product? Am I allergic to the material? Is it suitable for me? In asking these questions, they rejected our product immediately. Our insight was therefore that SKYN condoms are not a specialist product; instead, they are a product for everyone and include extra benefits you don’t get from other brands. This was our starting insight behind the campaign.
RD: Who was the key audience for the campaign, and how did you settle on this group?
Jeyan: The key audience for us is millennials, obviously; but we have a bullseye within that group which we call serial monogamist millennials. These are 23 to 35-year-olds. They have experience in relationships and sexual encounters, and we call them connoisseurs when it comes to experiences. These people are usually committed to one person, but might change partners until they find the right one in their life. For certain reasons they use condoms, but they also seek the best experience in doing so. We sought to bring the product into the scope of this specific group of people.
RD: And what was the creative strategy for engaging with them?
Jeyan: Well the whole conversation today takes place on digital platforms, so we wanted to create something social media-focused that involved our audience. To do so, we talked to millennials.
We sought to understand their journey through the day. What do they do at 7am, 8am, 10am, 11am, 5pm, and 11pm? Where do they see our product playing a role?
Will they respond to a message from us, buy our product or use it? Our mapping was highly detailed. We knew that at 7am when they wake up they would look at their Facebook profile immediately – so a message from SKYN around feeling everything on that day would be rewarding for them.
Then we took them on a journey together. We know what they wanted and we provided content based on that. But we also involved them and asked them how they interpreted the Feel Everything concept by getting them to post their photos of Feel Everything moments. These intimate moments linked well to our brand.
RD: Let’s talk results. How successful was the campaign?
Jeyan: The first thing to note is that we did all this with a fraction of the marketing budget our competitors enjoy with their brands. Creating a big bang with a small buck was our priority.
The campaign worked well relative to our competitors who are spending ten times more because we took our consumers on a journey. We were not a product advertised to customers. Instead, we were a partner in their life, going through a moment of truth together with them. I think that made a difference.
They saw SKYN integrated into their daily routine – either through news, activation, messaging, or their experience of the product. And we ensured that through the three moments of truth we delivered everything with excellence. That differentiated us.
RD: With the Feel Everything campaign, SKYN made the leap from being a brand to a lifestyle choice. What was the significance of that shift?
Jeyan: Most significant for us was the brand territory the campaign opened, including many doors we were not anticipating. Before the campaign, our messaging revolved around SKYN condoms being a great product and better than other competitive offers. Today, we’re talking about emotions, experiences, disappointments, happiness, fun; everything that happens to a consumer. This was the ‘leapfrog’ moment for us.
Because our brand territory is now is so wide, it allows us to have meaningful, experimental conversations with our target audience. We can discuss Feeling Everything through taste, through touch, through sound. Our brand conversation has evolved, allowing us to create new touchpoints for our customers.
RD: Can you give us an example?
Jeyan: To show the diversity of feelings consumers can encounter with SKYN condoms, we created three activations around different senses at events our target market is interested in: Milan Design Week, The Nuit Blanche in Paris, and the 2016 Rio Olympics.
Our first activation was called ‘The Cocktail Club’ in Milan. Focused on consumers’ sense of taste, the idea was to enable people to taste our new range of flavoured condoms in public, by creating an ice cream truck offering these flavours as gelato. From this, we used the content created and amplified it in other markets. The cost of the campaign was low but the engagement generated was huge. This activity alone generated over 3.3 million impressions, 240k video views and much positive feedback on our social media accounts, for only a few thousand euros.
Next: touch. We built a ‘Feelbooth’ in several venues during Paris’ Nuit Blanche event and Milan Design Week with responsive digital light arrays. Visitors entered the booth wearing conductive bracelets. Inside, they were encouraged to touch each other: the more contact they had, the more intense their experience in the booth. Each interaction was captured and shared online, translating ‘Feel Everything’ visually and generating valuable user-generated content.
Finally, sight. For the Rio 2016 Olympics, we worked with Dutch experimental designer Pauline Van Dongen to create an experimental long jump suit for athletes using our polyisoprene material. This showcased the technical benefits of our condoms in a highly visual, and visible, way.
The combined result of the three campaigns was an uptick in consumer engagement for SKYN – including valuable user-generated content which we could use and learn from. The lesson: minimum spend can reap maximum benefits when brands think laterally about their own brand equities!
Thanks go to Jeyan for taking the time to speak to us.
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