How many of us have considered that the simple act of brushing our teeth is what primarily gets the cleaning done? We squeeze that paste onto our brush at least twice a day without even thinking about it… it has become habit. That is just what Claude C. Hopkins intended when he began marketing Pepsodent. When a brand talks about the benefits of the product and does so in a way that helps solve a problem for the consumer (maybe solves a problem that they didn’t even know existed) that is effective marketing. When a brand takes it a step further, creating a trigger that forms a habit, that is even more powerful. And of course, if your product is so good that people actually crave it, you are golden. I mean, who wants icky filmy teeth when they can have a tingly clean mouth?
I always travel with my toothbrush, but I don’t necessary travel with other toiletries when visiting friends or family, leaving myself up to the mercy of the products they have available (beggars can’t be choosers, right?). On a recent visit to my parents house, I noticed the bottle of Pantene in the shower said, “silicone free shampoo.” I thought, “Huh. There has been talk about laurel sulfates and their link to cancer, but silicone isn’t something I’ve seen advertised on a shampoo bottle.” I knew that laurel sulfates make shampoos foam, hence that cleansing feeling, but what does silicone do? What is the benefit? Am I missing something here?
As a digital marketer, I felt compelled to put on my SEO hat (or shower cap!), and I did some really quick keyword research just to look at the search volume. Definitely some search volume, not really as much as I thought there would be for a big brand like Pantene. Some of the terms were combinations of “silicone” and “sulfate free.” Unfortunately, this product was not sulfate free so combining those keyphrases would not be possible.
|Keyword||Global Monthly Searches|
|silicone free hair products||880|
|silicone free conditioners||2400|
|silicone and sulfate free shampoo||590|
|silicone free conditioner||2900|
|sulfate and silicone free hair products||140|
|sulfate and silicone free shampoo||590|
|silicone free shampoo and conditioner||260|
|sulfate silicone free shampoo||590|
|silicone free shampoos||260|
|best silicone free conditioner||170|
I then took a look at Google suggest. The results were similar keywords.
And what about Google Trends?
It was definitely trending upwards. I then looked to see if people were asking the same questions I would ask, i.e. the product benefits.
They sure are. After doing some research, I learned that while silicone can help your hair look healthier by keeping it shiny and frizz free, it can also make your hair less receptive to accepting color. Hair color treatments are not cheap so that is a big selling point and benefit. So let’s take a look at “color shampoo” terms. Big difference.
|Keyword||Global Monthly Searches|
|color protecting shampoo||1600|
|color protection shampoo||2900|
|color lasting shampoo||58|
|color enhancing shampoo||1300|
|color safe shampoo||1900|
|color care shampoo||6600|
|shampoo for color treated hair||18100|
|sulfate free color safe shampoo||110|
And trends on “color shampoo” terms.
I then took a look at overall mentions of “silicone free shampoo” and related terms vs “color protecting shampoo” and related terms. In two months, there were 41 mentions of “silicone free shampoo(s)” and “silicone free hair products.”
By comparison, there were more than 400 mentions of “color shampoo” related terms in the same two month period.
I can understand why a brand would focus their packaging on trending terms, hoping to tap into an existing audience that understands what the product benefits are. But, why not explain the benefits for the uneducated shoppers? Why make the assumption that everyone understands the reward for using the product? It could certainly be argued that the term “color protecting shampoo” does a way better job of describing the benefits of the product than “silicone free shampoo” does. What if I search on my desktop or mobile phone to learn more about what the product does? What do I find? All product related results in the SERP’s.
How effective is this description? Why aren’t they utilizing the maximum character limit for the title to give me more info on the product benefits? Aren’t all shampoos designed to rinse clean? Who the heck wants to get out of the shower with shampoo not rinsed clean from their hair? Zero residue for a weightless finish? Are we talking about hair or cleaning my carpet? How is this any different from any other shampoo?
If I click on the “pantene silicone free shampoo” ad in the SERP’s, I get taken to a hair care products page where I can’t even find the shampoo I was searching for.
And if I click on the product listing which focuses on paraben free, it says silicone once in the description and doesn’t even mention the product benefits. In addition, the labeling doesn’t match so I am not even sure this is the same product.
If I dig around their site a bit more (maybe I would take this much time in real life), I find this page: http://www.pantene.com/en-US/hair-science/pages/Silicone-is-Good.aspx
Now I am really confused. Silicone is good? Why would I want silicone free shampoo then? And here is another one: http://www.pantene.com/en-US/hair-science/pages/Silicone-Isnot-Bad-for-Your-Hair.aspx
What the heck is dimethicone? I need to learn another term and again, you are telling me silicones are good? Finally, maybe this page will tell me something about the benefits: http://www.pantene.com/en-US/hair-science/pages/how-to-detox-your-hair.aspx
Nope. And if I wasn’t already questioning whether to use or not use silicone-free shampoo, this page mentions another term, “modified silicone.” What is that? No explanation of the benefits in this over 1,400-word page that goes on and on about the steps for detoxing your hair. And, the fourth step includes using the silicone containing rehab cream, which is safe for color treated hair. Huh?
An article about the product from Allure does a much better job of describing the benefits of the product.
Also showing up in the SERPs is a user review. If you aren’t going to have the conversation about the product benefits, others certainly will and it may or may not be the conversation you want people having.
Now, don’t get me wrong, there has been some clever marketing with the Pantene products, namely the “Pantene Weather Project”, also known as the “haircast” app, which serves up the weather and lets you know what kind of “hair day” it’s going to be: frizzy, flat, fried, etc. The user gets offered a coupon and in-store displays matched the weather type to what type of product is best to use… hello benefits. This is no doubt problem solving for the consumer. There may be a good reason why as much thought wasn’t put into the silicone-free shampoo line, but even still, the messaging should be clearer. Couldn’t the simple addition of the benefit of the product on the packing make a difference? Could a better integrated marketing approach, linking the offline labeling and the online content help drive more sales? Could someone crave this product because it offers them a reward that they wanted or learned to need? Why not.
Yeah exactly, who knew? Have you had similar experiences with products where you didn’t understand the benefits of the product or what it did? We would love to hear about it and welcome you to share your thoughts in the blog comment section below.