Sex sells, right? Not necessarily. If a brand’s identity is grounded in “sensuous” qualities only, it may not be enough to elicit a long-lasting love in the marketplace.
Think Abercrombie & Fitch. A&F was targeting a sexy, teenage niche crowd, sometimes pushing limits for its young target audience. When the CEO stated, “We hire good-looking people…because good-looking people attract other good-looking people…Candidly, we go after the cool, good-looking people,” it was clear that A&F stood for only one thing. As fast fashion exploded, A&F lost its panache—inclusion was “in” and exclusion was “out.” Today, millennials rank A&F in the bottom 25% of all brands when it comes to being down to earth, a good value and trustworthy.
Or consider Herbal Essences. In the 1990s, its commercials featured women in the shower while lathering up their hair with the brand’s shampoo. Its strong differentiation of 80% in the early 2000s was reflective of its energy and presence in its space. Over time, this point of uniqueness grounded in sensuality was not enough to uphold its strength in culture. Today, Herbal Essences’ differentiation score has dropped to 37%.
This Valentine’s Day, we want to celebrate sensuous brands that own a dynamic identity beyond just a sexy core persona. We believe brands with Tensity®—identities with traits that are a good balance between unique and relevant—succeed in culture. Why are Victoria’s Secret, Old Spice and Tinder the most preferred brands in their respective categories? What is the allure of these brands that goes beyond their sensuous qualities?
In our study, the attribute sensuous has a .3 correlation to brand differentiation—the most important pillar (of four) that correlates to pricing power as well as to consumer commitment and advocacy. Is that enough? The strongest sensuous brands in culture own other unique characteristics that create a more balanced, dynamic brand identity.
The presence of both sensuous and daring carries an additional correlation of .5 with differentiation:
The presence of both sensuous and intelligent carries an additional correlation of .5 with differentiation:
The presence of both sensuous and prestigious carries an additional correlation of .35 with differentiation:
The presence of both sensuous and social carries an additional correlation of .4 with differentiation:
The presence of both sensuous and socially responsible carries an additional correlation of .4 with differentiation:
The presence of both sensuous and rugged carries an additional correlation of .3 with differentiation:
Written by Divya Munjal.