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A Market Fit—The Evolution of Deodorants and Antiperspirants

By: Abby Penning
Posted: August 3, 2010, from the August 2010 issue of GCI Magazine.

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Other than the continued penetration into world markets where deodorant and antiperspirant use was previously less pervasive, marketing efforts are also being initiated in more mature regions such as the U.S. to keep particular deodorant/antiperspirant products in consumers’ line of sight.

Nearly all of the top deodorant/antiperspirant lines focus on value-added products, featuring ingredients, formulations and design that fight odor and perspiration—with some lines even offering “clinical strength” options—treat skin with moisturizing and nourishing benefits, elements that lessen underarm hair, and even feature long-lasting formulas and antiaging benefits. They also offer different aesthetically pleasing options as well, working to not leave white residue on the skin and clothes and, perhaps a key signature in marketing differences, the availability of different signature scents and fragrances.

And while these features can be seen as being appealing across gender lines, antiperspirants and deodorants are increasingly an area where beauty products are distinctly separating themselves into very gender-specific options. An example that places this issue in stark relief is the product line Sure. Originally created by Unilever, the deodorant/antiperspirant line debuted in 1973 as a dual-gender brand, growing through developments of roll-on and solid formulation technologies, making its mark with distinctive marketing campaigns and maintaining a presence on mass-market store shelves through 2006, when the brand was purchased by Innovative Brands The line’s new owner then went on to develop a Sure for Men line, in addition to its traditional gender-neutral options, debuting the male-centric products in 2009. Then, in 2010, the new Sure for Women line was also introduced, in addition to a formula upgrade for Sure for Men.

With these product line announcements in early 2010, as well as the announcement that the Sure brand was sold to Helen of Troy in March 2010, the brand focused on addressing concerns universal to each gender—namely, wetness and odor protection—while also allowing each specific line to focus on the particular needs of the gender for which it was designed. The women’s line features antioxidant skin conditioners such as vitamins A and E and aloe vera, and is available in three scents—Citrus Escape, Sparkling Bloom and Fresh Essence—as well as an unscented option. The men’s line’s features include microencapsulated fragrances that release over time, and three scents—Outdoor Sport, the Mountain Frost and Crisp Breeze.

Each product line, while sharing similar logos and design components, also features colors specified to not only reflect the scent contained in each particular SKU but also shades that are more male- or female-friendly, depending on the product’s intended audience.