Product Claims – Are You Selling Your Innovation Short?

Picking up on the latest launch from Colgate prompted us here at The Strategy Distillery to think about how product claims are considered in brand propositions and innovation. 

Colgate, like many of their competitors, have tapped in to the tooth decay “baddie” – sugar acid, that dentists are always warning us about. In such a mature category, a new product claim is a powerful tool for toothpaste manufacturers to bring new news, in the absence of much else. But, even in categories with lots of headroom, product claims are often overlooked, or rushed through at the last minute.

How did Colgate land on this product claim? What is the most compelling and understandable articulation or tonality of the claim? What is right for the brand? For example, one of Colgate’s competitors, Sensodyne Pronamel make a similar product claim in a different, more conversational way; “Protects teeth from the effects of acid wear”, and Aquafresh say; “With sugar acid protection”. The difference of just one word, ‘protection’ implies a very different way of working compared to Colgate’s ‘neutralizer’.

In our experience, product claims are so often the reason why a product concept fails in testing, and in some cases, in market too. This is often because many brand owners work back-to-front – they race ahead with defining the product idea (format, features, benefits etc..), and then present a fait accompli list of claim options to the consumer to choose from.

The problem is, it’s too late. The product idea already limits the claim options available to the consumer. The chances are there is a claim territory far more compelling that hasn’t even been considered, and probably isn’t even possible with the product concept. By this point, the business is often committed to the idea, and development is in full swing – lots of time and money having already been spent.

So in summary, don’t sell your innovation short. Claims are a fundamental part of the product proposition development, and ultimately the “sell”.  Product claims should be built in the very early phases of concept development with the consumer, and certainly not be left until the last minute when they literally get shoe-horned in to what has already been conceptually (or physically!) created.

To read part 2 click here