Although Vox published this article before the Gillette commercial came out, the simple fact of the matter is that exclusivity and elitism is out and inclusivity with brands is now very “in.” Esme Squalor might not exactly be happy with how brands are trying to democratize but the problem is as financial as it is social.
Millennial buyers value authenticity. A simple statement or clever phrase isn’t enough, you have to have the products and the branding to back it up. Pretty marketing might have worked in decades past but now people expect authenticity in everything the company does. Rihanna played right into this trend with her new Fenty beauty line in shades from the darkest to the most pale and every shade in between. It was hailed as a great change in the beauty industry. When Kylie Jenner’s lip gloss application wands were shown to be bad, she pulled the product, had it re-designed and sent out replacements and of course cataloged the whole thing on social media to let her customers know that she was aware of the problem and was fixing it. She demonstrated what the new ones would look like and used it herself telling people about how it was better.
It was raw and it was real. That’s what the modern shopper is looking for.
This kind of progress is great for brands financially. Instead of catering to only someone who they think is their customer, throwing open the doors to anyone through inclusivity not only feels socially good, its good for business. People who might have passed a brand by now can now look at the marketing and say, “Oh, that’s me too, I see someone like me there. I can buy that!”
However, this trend of inclusivity within the social sphere doesn’t just extend to marketing and products gone wrong. It also extends to being with the social conditioning of the time. Enter Gillette razors.
Gillette’s slogan for 40 years has been, “The Best A Man Can Get.” Gillette has been under fire from cheaper firms offering razors at a far lower price. Dollar Shave Club, Harry’s and others have offered alternatives to their pricey products. So it makes sense that Gillette would want to reach out to Millennial and Gen Z consumers by saying, “We get the social moment.” However, at least with the right wing, the ad had caused some controversy. This is good for free marketing for Gillette but it may cost the company long-term. Will younger buyers change their opinion about the company? Will they leave cheaper alternatives behind? Will it make up for those older people who are tired of the term, toxic masculinity?
It’s hard to tell. There are mixed feelings about brands getting this involved in social causes. In the past, if a marketing department had presented this idea, executives would have fallen on the floor in apoplectic shock at the very idea of causing division among their customers or offending someone. Marketing was meant to appeal to people, not drive them away or make them form a negative opinion against the brand. However, brands have gotten brave and are entering the social spaces through their marketing.
Time will tell if this strategy pays off both socially and financially.