Earlier this year, Sensodyne, a leading toothpaste brand manufactured by GlaxoSmithKline, opted to do a thematic (rather than functional) advertising campaign. The main components of the campaign were two commercials. The first was published on Mother’s Day (May 12) and centred on the relationship between a mother and her son; the second focused on a father and son and was published on Father’s Day, (June 16). The tagline for both was Hasaas Rishtey (sensitive relationships), which is in line with Sensodyne’s USP of being a toothpaste for people with sensitive teeth. The timing was especially important as these commercials were also viewed during Ramzan and on Eid, which Ali A. Rizvi, CEO, What’s Next Entertainment (Sensodyne’s creative agency), terms “sensitive times in terms of relationships for our population.”
The commercials were uploaded on various digital platforms including Facebook, Instagram and YouTube. Rizvi says that because “sensitivity dwells in every aspect of our lives, including our relationships, the idea linked up with the brand’s USP and yet engaged consumers at an emotional level.”
For Rizvi, digital platforms provide more room for experimentation compared to conventional ones. “As an agency, this was the first time we worked with a brand that wanted to focus on the storyline (the sensitivity of relationships) rather than plug the brand; as a result, we were able to introduce the brand in a very subtle manner.”
The response, says Rizvi, has been promising despite the fact that capturing eyeballs on digital media is difficult as people have the option to scroll down. “The fact that 30% of the viewers watched our ads from start to finish is a sign of the campaign’s success. Parents were tagging their children and vice versa simply because the emotional content of our campaign was relatable.”
Ali Yaqooti, Senior Brand Manager, GlaxoSmithKline, says the campaign was ready last year. However, because this was the first time Sensodyne were opting for emotive advertising (previously their communications have been functional; featuring doctors speaking about the benefits of the product), approvals were required from Sensodyne International and this took time.
The campaign was supported by celebrity endorsements. “We published videos featuring actors Imran Ashraf and Aiman Khan who shared their Hasaas Rishtey moments. It was a great learning experience for a brand like ours which has focused on condition awareness. Connecting with the consumer at an emotional level gave our brand a completely new dimension,” says Yaqooti.
According to Yaqooti, 90% of the population in urban centres has used toothpaste in the last year, of which approximately 70% use it on a regular basis. He adds that toothpaste is divided into several sub-categories – cavity protection, freshness, teeth whitening, tooth sensitivity, gum bleeding and herbal. “The sensitivity segment constitutes about 18% of the market share. Sensodyne leads in this segment with a market share of around 74%. I call this a high-heat category because on average there are about five to six competitors advertising every month. This gives people ample information to make informed decisions and choose a product suited to their needs.”
The increased advertising within the category has increased awareness and therefore growth. Another reason for this is urbanisation as even in semi-urban centres toothpaste use is increasing, something which Yaqooti attributes to the fact that mobile phone penetration is rising. In his opinion, these consumers are switching from powder substitutes such as Dentonic and Luqmaani Manjan to toothpaste.
Further helping Sensodyne increase their market share is the fact that the incidence of teeth sensitivity in Pakistan is as high as 40% in urban centres. This is due to several reasons; the first is the increase in the consumption of carbonated drinks, which erode the outermost protective layer (enamel) of the tooth. Another identifiable cause is smoking, and finally, not brushing the right way. “Eighty percent of our population does not know that they should brush their teeth in a circular motion; furthermore, most people do not brush their teeth twice a day,” says Yaqooti.
Priced at approximately Rs 230 plus per 100 gram tube, Sensodyne falls in the premium category. “Sensodyne is not a simple fluoride toothpaste; the fact that we use other ingredients to reduce tooth sensitivity adds to the cost,” says Yaqooti. “In the past few years, we have seen increased sales in terms of our small-sized SKUs. We hope that this will soon result in increasing sales of our larger SKUs, especially when consumers realise that purchasing bulk packs means substantial savings.”
This is where Rizvi feels that the campaign will play an important role. “If consumers relate to the brand due to a prior social media view or engagement, you can expect them to pick it from the shelf and pay a premium for it.”
Yaqooti says that given the economic downturn, it will be challenging to increase the penetration of Sensodyne. However, he believes that given that only 13% of people who suffer from sensitive teeth actually opt for a toothpaste like Sensodyne (most just live with the condition) means that there is plenty of space for the brand to grow. “We do expect our consumers to economise but we are a resilient nation and the outlook is positive.”