Why influencer marketing proved the answer for this brand's awareness challenge

How influencer marketing helped combat a lack of awareness among this sensitive issue for women

It’s not hard to find social media influencers to talk about holidays, restaurants and televisions. But what about a gel designed to alleviate vaginal dryness?

That was the challenge facing Leandro De Lima. As Asia-Pacific marketing manager for US-based company, Combe, De Lima’s product portfolio includes personal care product Just For Men and the Vagisil line of women’s health products.

In 2012, the company had achieved a significant breakthrough when it had its Vagisil products accepted on to the shelves at Woolworths, and ran an accompanying television advertising campaign. De Lima said that while the reach was great, the feedback wasn’t.

“Because this is a very personal brand and a very personal product, consumers were complaining about the ads,” he said.

Further research found one of the key barriers to adoption of the products was simple lack of awareness among consumers as to whether they should use them.

“It is not something you are going to bring up when talking to other friends,” De Lima said. “We knew education was the key thing for us, so we started using more educational channels, such as magazines and digital channels, and also used sampling with Fernwood gyms and Fitness First.”

While this grew sales, it had little impact on the number of conversations happening around the brand – a key metric De Lime believed would lead to accelerated sales growth.

A subsequent partnership with beauty advice site, Beauty Heaven, and conversations with Combe’s media agency alerted De Lima to the potential of influencer marketing. That led Combe to engaging Hypetap to design a social influencer campaign to get women talking about its Vagisil ProHydrate product.

“Most of the lubricants today are targeted at males and females and it is all about sex,” De Lima said. “Our products are for women who suffer from dryness but also they have an intimate life.

“We needed to get real women to talk about Vagisil ProHydrate and tell the difference between our product, which is designed for women and dryness and intimacy, but not really related to sex.”

Combe worked with Hypetap to find a group of nine influencers who could talk in relation to the product.

“We wanted to find influencers who were talking about lifestyle or beauty and health and fitness, and they embraced the product as well,” De Lima said. “It wasn’t as simple as if you were talking about protein bars, but it wasn’t extremely difficult to find these influencers.

“Some of them talked about sex and being sexy and feeling comfortable with intimacy. And others talked about the issues around dryness, and that some women suffer from it for a number of reasons.”

That resulted in 26 posts on blogs and posts, resulting in 4000 blog views, 250 Facebook likes, and 350 Instagram comments.

While the numbers might seem small in comparison to campaigns run for more mainstream categories, it has been sufficient to drive month-on-month sales growth, with retailers reporting customers are mentioning the social media campaign when purchasing.

“Because it is a very personal issue, it works very well, because it is not the brand saying something, it is real women talking to real women,” De Lima said.

The campaign also enabled Combe to understand more about its customers and the market at large perceives the product.

“We got a better learning of how consumers perceive this issue, such as they don’t normally use the word ‘dryness’, but they use other terms to refer to the issue,” De Lima said. “Based on those learnings and how consumers refer to the issue, we were able to get a better understanding and create more content around the topic, and have a better connection to the person who is having an issue.”

Success with the Vagisil ProHydrate campaign has led De Lima to begin planning for a new campaign for another of Combe’s product stable. Again, the goal will be to keep the campaign small and intimate.

“We we’re not expecting huge numbers, because it is a private conversation,” she said. “We are going more for the quality influencer rather than the quantity again.”

More on influencer marketing:

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