Deodorant, thankfully, is a popular product in the U.S. -- but with nearly 100 percent usage, marketers need to devise new features or grab sales from rivals to see sales growth, The Wall Street Journal reported in its Wednesday edition.
Winning over new customers is particularly difficult, however. Some 50 percent of deodorant buyers reported using the same brand in the last 12 months, and 29 percent said they tried a new product but did not switch to it, according to a survey conducted last fall by market-research firm Mintel International.
Enter Unilever and its new angle on selling deodorant to women: A product that claims to make underarms not only odor-free but prettier.
Journal Community Dove Ultimate Go Sleeveless, which hits US stores this week, claims its formula of specialized moisturizers will give women better-looking underarms in five days. It was inspired by Unilever PLC research that found 93 percent of women consider their armpits unattractive.
Magazines and talk shows pour out the tips on how women can improve plenty of body parts, from legs to midriffs to fingernails. But little attention -- or advice -- has been brought to armpits.
"We spoke with over 500 women, and almost every one of them thinks that their underarms are unattractive," said Mike Dwyer, U.S. marketing director for Unilever's deodorant business, including its Dove, Degree and Axe brands. One in three, meanwhile, said they feel more confident when their pits are in good condition, leading Dwyer to say, "How do we give them that confidence?"
Some 62 percent of the women surveyed said they suffer underarm skin problems like breakouts, discoloration or itchiness, according to research at Unilever, known as the maker of Lipton Tea, Vaseline, Sunsilk shampoos, Hellmann's mayonnaise and other big brands. Nearly half said they have been embarrassed enough by the condition of their underarms that they have changed clothes.
A print ad for Dove's new deodorant points out that "nearly 100 percent of women" find their underarms unattractive. In one ad, "Gossip Girl" actress Jessica Szohr posed in a sleeveless shirt with one arm raised. "With Dove, Jessica's ready to bare those beautiful underarms!" the caption reads.