PHCP Inc. was founded by Gerd Schwarzkopf, whose grandfather invented a powder called "shampoon" to clean hair in 1903. To say that personal care products are in the family's blood might be an understatement.
When Schwarzkopf wanted to launch a line of men's products to an untapped audience, he trusted the project to Cherry Robinson, managing director at PHCP. Robinson, in turn, developed a unique brand personality with the help of Maritz Research and BrainStorm Group.
Mensgroom commissioned Maritz Research to conduct a survey of 1,000 and found that 91% of men did their own shopping for personal products. "For years, our research told us that guys were starting to realize the importance of good grooming and to shop more for themselves," Robinson explains, "and yet we didn't see that reflected in sales of men's grooming products to the degree we expected."
Another part of the survey found that three of ten men talk to their close friends about skin care and hair care issues and three of ten men admit they have used women's beauty products in the past. "We realized pretty quickly that there was a significant disconnect between what men were looking for and what they found on the shelves," says Robinson.
Of the women surveyed, PHCP discovered that that today's single women have higher expectations of a man's appearance than in the recent past, and more than half of women surveyed felt that men should spend as much time and money on grooming as they do. Robinson and Schwarzkopf both concluded that guys just wanted quality products that worked, products that wouldn't be a chore to use, and packages that they wouldn't want to hide.
A personal identity.
Robinson developed the pun brand name and refined the Washroom Guy brand representative. Washroom Guy (as they say, WG to his friends) is sheepishly peeking out of the men's room, shy about being caught using beauty products. WG had a slight tongue-in-cheek hint of an action movie leading man or comic book superhero.
An overarching goal of PHCP was to have the Mensgroom products and packages be, in the end, "simple products for simple creatures." The creative at the Brainstorm Group, in Toronto, was led by Pamela Mills, account manager, and Patrick Carron, art director, and they thought, "It doesn't have to be so serious." Robinson feels that the Mensgroom brand launch is not condescending, and the personality of the brand sets it apart.
To captivate the male shopper, Brainstorm Group felt the brand should be fun as opposed to confusing or scary. Many men feel intimidated when walking into a drug store to buy skin care and hair care products. Especially when looking at a new product, it's important that the benefit copy on products aimed at men not be excessive or intimidating. "They need to know that in a quarter of a second that this product is for them," says Robinson.
Brainstorm's efforts had the most impact on the playful aspects of the brand, such as the cute names of the SKUs, the clever copy, the playful icons, and the funny messages inside of the box flaps. "Brainstorm Group took it one step further and created this two-step joke," explains Robinson.
Brainstorm Group developed the whimsical product names with whimsical flair and restrained puns. There is Firmly Rooted for thinning hair; Eye Feel Good for crow's feet; Sore No More for sore muscles; Shave the Males shaving cream; Scrubbed the Right Way facial scrub; Not-So Iron Grip hair gel; and Daily Do Right hair conditioner.
The playful icons on Mensgroom packages are really not meant to be useful. For instance, a set of two icons explains the benefits of one product: "Just like getting a scalp massage at the salon...without the pesky feeling of emasculation." The kicker is that the second icon is a pair of scissors.
A balancing act
Robinson saw the goal of Mensgroom to be witty and a little edgy while keeping the line of 16 SKUs simple to shop. The designers at Brainstorm Group definitely wanted male shoppers to get the product classification immediately from the packages.
Robinson feels the packages strike an overall balance-slick enough to be high-end but not too slick that guys would be afraid to pick it up. Clear overcaps on some of the products are unusual for the category and convey a contemporary sensibility. The packages are easy to open and close, and open and close with confidence-inspiring clicks. "When they pick it up, they know it's quality and high-end," says Mills. "It's refreshing."
In addition, the brand exploits the fact that there are not many square or rectangle shapes in the male beauty category. "There is no question that this is a masculine brand," Robinson says. "Mensgroom is that moment of discovery for guys-that sigh of relief: 'Finally, someone gets me!'"