Olay is trying to appeal to millennials by positioning itself as a convenient and accessible approach to skin care.
For the past four years, Olay has been integrating artificial intelligence into its website and also using consumer research behind the scenes in order to develop personalized products. As a result, in January, it launched faster-working product, improving on the brand’s guarantee of visible results in 28 days. Olay, a mass brand carried in retailers like CVS and Target, as well online, is one of the top facial skin-care brands in the world, with nearly 6 percent global market share, according to parent company Procter & Gamble.
Because of its mass presence, it makes sense for the brand to position itself as accessible to customers, rather than as part of an aspirational lifestyle that customers try to live up to, said Stephanie Robertson, director of North American Skin Care at Procter & Gamble Co.
“Now, we are being more intentional about what the skin needs and how [customers] are living. [For example,] we’re asking, where does skin need attention outside of the morning and evening?” she said.
The brand has released new products, such as Cell Science last year and Olay Whips in January, to address customer desires for quick results. Whips, for instance, features three of its signature franchises — Regenerist, Luminous and Total Effects — as airy, fast-absorbing creams. The brand also recently upgraded its packaging for “prestige-like quality and attractiveness,” David Taylor, CEO of Procter & Gamble Co, said during the fourth-quarter earnings call in July. Overall, e-commerce sales are up 80 percent for the current fiscal year, according to the fourth-quarter earnings report.
In order to push the “convenience” message, Olay launched a splashy campaign this week called “Face Anything,” featuring notable women like Olympian Aly Raisman and Refinery 29 co-founder Piera Gelardi. By showing women of different backgrounds and interests, and their individual stories, Olay is trying to appeal to a variety of women and show that, no matter who you are, the brand can help serve you, Robertson said. The campaign is being featured in a 10-page spread in the September issue of Vogue, on several Times Square billboards and on Olay’s own makeup-free runway during New York Fashion Week.
“[Olay wants] to make sure we are relevant and tell the brand stories that make sense to our customer. We understand what she’s doing and where she’s going, and we have a skin-care brand that can come along for the ride,” Robertson said.
The brand is also focusing on digital experiences that are optimized for mobile, in order to reach busy consumers and find out their needs. Olay’s Skin Advisor, which uses AI to analyze a person’s selfie and suggests products based on their skin concerns, launched four years ago and has gathered 3 million selfies so far, Robertson said. Because Olay does not have its own retail space, the Advisor feature is important for the brand to be close to its consumers to learn about them, she added.
Additionally, the brand has relied on consumer research gathered from external partners to learn about where its customer hears about products, where and how they shop, and more. A year ago, the company also started a program where it worked with over 50 women who were compensated for allowing Olay to access at their mobile phone activity on a day-to-day basis for the span of eight weeks.
“We’ve viewed this particular research as a way to partner with consumers to learn more about their shopping journeys and understand how we can make the shopping experience easier for her,” a spokeswoman said.