Case spotlight: Conquering a Younger Audience: The Case of Gillette in Russia

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This case was featured in Connect, issue 54, November 2021.

Who – the protagonist

Andrey, a brand manager of Gillette in Russia.

What?

Gillette is the well-known American brand of safety razors and other personal care products including shaving supplies, which was acquired for $57 billion by multi-national corporation Procter & Gamble (P&G) in 2005.

Today, the company produces razors and trimmers, male and female blades, shaving accessories, and is the absolute leader on the world shaving market.

In 2020, Gillette was also the undisputed leader of the Russian market, occupying 85% of the 20 billion rubles industry.

Gillette, razors

Why?

Like with many markets around the world, the Russian shaving sector was hit by COVID-19.

Already affected by all shaving products recording a single-deficit decline in 2019 – prior to the pandemic – growth in 2020 would be stunted even further, with a double-digital retail value decline predicted.

At their daily planning session, the brand department’s analyst, Anastasia, revealed that Gillette’s position in the market was vulnerable due to BiC’s success in the young men segment, an audience not traditionally the main focus of Gillette’s promotion campaigns.

BiC’s approach of producing cheap disposable blades was the complete opposite of Gillette’s longer-lasting products.

Furthermore, research suggested young men’s shaving behaviour was changing, with a shaving-less attitude and lack of loyalty to big brands spelling trouble for Gillette.

When?

It was a sunny morning in the summer of 2020 when Andrey was attending a daily conference call with his branding department.

Where?

Latest figures suggest that in Russia 58% of men shave once a week, with the frequency of in-person purchases for each male being just twice a year.

Key quote

“Andrey greeted his colleagues and gave the floor to Anastasia, the new analyst of the department, to present recent sales data. What he heard shocked him. He wasn’t ready for such numbers."
An excerpt from the case.

What next?

After listening to Anastasia, Andrey realised that there was no time for delay, and he had to urgently develop and present to the board of directors the promotion campaign to involve the younger generation with the Gillette brand.

Andrey needed to develop a communication strategy aimed not only at increasing awareness of the company’s products but also at introducing the younger generation to the culture of shaving.

But a recent campaign aimed at promoting social values among men was branded as left-wing propaganda in some quarters and there were calls in Russia for boycotts of Gillette.

AUTHOR PERSPECTIVE 

Producing cases on high-profile companies

Tatiana said: “Initially, we prepared a case for the Winter Marketing School, which we hold annually at our university. We prefer to offer students cases of well-known companies. In 2021, the Career Centre of the HSE Graduate School of Business offered to work with the Gillette brand of the P&G corporation. We held several meetings with the company’s representatives, discussed the draft of the case and started working on it.  

“The participants of the Winter Marketing School found the case interesting and informative. 10 student teams presented their results and a committee of brand representatives chose the three best solutions.  After that, we modified the case and included it in the learning process.

“It was a successful learning experience, with the students involved being passionate about solving the case. We decided that the case could be interesting to a wider audience and submitted it to The Case Centre.”

Appeal of the Russian razor market to local students

Tatiana continued: “The case is intuitive and a subject young people can relate to.

“Firstly, the product – razors, mentioned in the case, is a familiar fast-moving consumer good for most of them: young men buy it for themselves, girls – as a gift.

“Secondly, the pandemic has changed shopping habits and the unshaven look has become a trend. This trend was supported by young people who react quickly to fast-changing fashion trends.

“Thirdly, most international brands localise their marketing activities, and students like cases and tasks that are relevant to the region they’re from.”

man, shaving, razor

Individual v group work

She added: “In the classroom, we used the case in two formats: individual and group. Each format has its advantages.

“The individual format allows each student to be involved and think about his/her own suggestions for the possible solutions of the case, to formulate their answers to the teacher's questions accurately and concisely.

“The group format is more familiar to students of our educational programme. The participants worked on the case in small groups, brainstormed ideas, and after that we had a discussion. As a result, we received more creative and comprehensive solutions.”

Importance of workshop support

Ekaterina added: “The case writing workshop run by The Case Centre was very useful to me because I had the opportunity to discuss the case with case writing expert, Trevor Williamson.

“Trevor gave us his first case and one of his most successful ones to compare and see the difference between them. I was impressed by the detailed teaching notes that really can help educators in the classroom.

“We discussed thoroughly the case structure, and the importance of opening and closing paragraphs. Trevor gave advice on how to improve our drafts and make them more interesting and relevant for the wider audience. Also, we had the opportunity to present our case to our colleagues and professionals who provided their comments and suggested improvements. The workshop group and experts were very supportive, which really helped in properly writing the case.

“The most challenging aspect was to decide which materials and graphs should be included in the case because we limited the case to five/six pages, and there were a lot of issues that were very important to include.”

Developing the case

Tatiana concluded: “We hope that the case will be interesting to professionals in the marketing and management fields, and they find issues, covered in the case, relevant to their teaching practice.

“The situation, mentioned in the text, is quite challenging for Gillette's performance in the segment of young men. Thereby, there can be different approaches to how the case could be taught, and we would like to extend the teaching note to feature best practices and insights to improve the learning process.

“If the case is in demand, we could also add a cross-country comparison of the company’s performance and consumer behaviour changes in different countries due to the pandemic. There was also an idea to focus on the promotion and marketing communication aspects.

“In addition, we already have several bright solutions to this case from our students. This will allow us to add further interesting details and data to the case.”

THE CASE 

The case

Who – the protagonist

Andrey, a brand manager of Gillette in Russia.

What?

Gillette is the well-known American brand of safety razors and other personal care products including shaving supplies, which was acquired for $57 billion by multi-national corporation Procter & Gamble (P&G) in 2005.

Today, the company produces razors and trimmers, male and female blades, shaving accessories, and is the absolute leader on the world shaving market.

In 2020, Gillette was also the undisputed leader of the Russian market, occupying 85% of the 20 billion rubles industry.

Gillette, razors

Why?

Like with many markets around the world, the Russian shaving sector was hit by COVID-19.

Already affected by all shaving products recording a single-deficit decline in 2019 – prior to the pandemic – growth in 2020 would be stunted even further, with a double-digital retail value decline predicted.

At their daily planning session, the brand department’s analyst, Anastasia, revealed that Gillette’s position in the market was vulnerable due to BiC’s success in the young men segment, an audience not traditionally the main focus of Gillette’s promotion campaigns.

BiC’s approach of producing cheap disposable blades was the complete opposite of Gillette’s longer-lasting products.

Furthermore, research suggested young men’s shaving behaviour was changing, with a shaving-less attitude and lack of loyalty to big brands spelling trouble for Gillette.

When?

It was a sunny morning in the summer of 2020 when Andrey was attending a daily conference call with his branding department.

Where?

Latest figures suggest that in Russia 58% of men shave once a week, with the frequency of in-person purchases for each male being just twice a year.

Key quote

“Andrey greeted his colleagues and gave the floor to Anastasia, the new analyst of the department, to present recent sales data. What he heard shocked him. He wasn’t ready for such numbers."
An excerpt from the case.

What next?

After listening to Anastasia, Andrey realised that there was no time for delay, and he had to urgently develop and present to the board of directors the promotion campaign to involve the younger generation with the Gillette brand.

Andrey needed to develop a communication strategy aimed not only at increasing awareness of the company’s products but also at introducing the younger generation to the culture of shaving.

But a recent campaign aimed at promoting social values among men was branded as left-wing propaganda in some quarters and there were calls in Russia for boycotts of Gillette.

AUTHOR PERSPECTIVE 

Author perspective

Producing cases on high-profile companies

Tatiana said: “Initially, we prepared a case for the Winter Marketing School, which we hold annually at our university. We prefer to offer students cases of well-known companies. In 2021, the Career Centre of the HSE Graduate School of Business offered to work with the Gillette brand of the P&G corporation. We held several meetings with the company’s representatives, discussed the draft of the case and started working on it.  

“The participants of the Winter Marketing School found the case interesting and informative. 10 student teams presented their results and a committee of brand representatives chose the three best solutions.  After that, we modified the case and included it in the learning process.

“It was a successful learning experience, with the students involved being passionate about solving the case. We decided that the case could be interesting to a wider audience and submitted it to The Case Centre.”

Appeal of the Russian razor market to local students

Tatiana continued: “The case is intuitive and a subject young people can relate to.

“Firstly, the product – razors, mentioned in the case, is a familiar fast-moving consumer good for most of them: young men buy it for themselves, girls – as a gift.

“Secondly, the pandemic has changed shopping habits and the unshaven look has become a trend. This trend was supported by young people who react quickly to fast-changing fashion trends.

“Thirdly, most international brands localise their marketing activities, and students like cases and tasks that are relevant to the region they’re from.”

man, shaving, razor

Individual v group work

She added: “In the classroom, we used the case in two formats: individual and group. Each format has its advantages.

“The individual format allows each student to be involved and think about his/her own suggestions for the possible solutions of the case, to formulate their answers to the teacher's questions accurately and concisely.

“The group format is more familiar to students of our educational programme. The participants worked on the case in small groups, brainstormed ideas, and after that we had a discussion. As a result, we received more creative and comprehensive solutions.”

Importance of workshop support

Ekaterina added: “The case writing workshop run by The Case Centre was very useful to me because I had the opportunity to discuss the case with case writing expert, Trevor Williamson.

“Trevor gave us his first case and one of his most successful ones to compare and see the difference between them. I was impressed by the detailed teaching notes that really can help educators in the classroom.

“We discussed thoroughly the case structure, and the importance of opening and closing paragraphs. Trevor gave advice on how to improve our drafts and make them more interesting and relevant for the wider audience. Also, we had the opportunity to present our case to our colleagues and professionals who provided their comments and suggested improvements. The workshop group and experts were very supportive, which really helped in properly writing the case.

“The most challenging aspect was to decide which materials and graphs should be included in the case because we limited the case to five/six pages, and there were a lot of issues that were very important to include.”

Developing the case

Tatiana concluded: “We hope that the case will be interesting to professionals in the marketing and management fields, and they find issues, covered in the case, relevant to their teaching practice.

“The situation, mentioned in the text, is quite challenging for Gillette's performance in the segment of young men. Thereby, there can be different approaches to how the case could be taught, and we would like to extend the teaching note to feature best practices and insights to improve the learning process.

“If the case is in demand, we could also add a cross-country comparison of the company’s performance and consumer behaviour changes in different countries due to the pandemic. There was also an idea to focus on the promotion and marketing communication aspects.

“In addition, we already have several bright solutions to this case from our students. This will allow us to add further interesting details and data to the case.”

THE CASE 

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