Barbasol is Looking For a Few Good Men... to Wear Their Shirts
Getting in on a multi-billion dollar industry is a smart move. Barbasol shaving cream has decided to capitalize on their iconic brand by adding a t-shirt line to their sales offerings. In a Bizjournal.com article, Barbasol Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing, Jill Crumbacher states, "We thought, ‘Hey, there might be people passionate enough about our brand that they may want to wear it".
Undoubtedly, Barbasol will sell some shirts. Their status as a household name and their appeal to manliness will generate a certain interest among their many faithful. Their history of splashy ads, and recent foray into the "Shave Like A Man" commercial spots reveal an interesting and creative marketing vision, and at least part of the reason for their incredible success. Unfortunately, a glimpse into their shirt line uncovers a sort of lackluster approach to design. Assuming that the shirts are being screen printed, this is not surprising; actually it makes perfect sense. With screen printing, there are automatic limitations to design. This is because for each color, a screen must be prepared, which takes time. It is also very difficult to achieve gradients, which means that the image has a flatter look. Customization is also out of the question, since just adding something like a name in one color to the shirt would require making a new screen.
Get Close and Comfortable with the Future
The advantage of screen printing is that very large orders of the exact same print are cheap. The profit margin goes up, as the number of shirts ordered goes up. But market demand is catching up with the digital age. The "Maker Movement" is a prime example of this trend. Companies like GE are recognizing the shift toward customization and are helping their customers put a bit of themselves into their products. This development could bode very well for marketers who are always looking for ways to get consumer buy-in. While it may still be possible to create a simple product and count on iconic status to move merchandise, with the increasing public availability of smarter technology, companies that offer products that allow for the "personal touch" can be among the early adopters, and by getting to the consumers first, secure a better market position in the future when customization is inevitably commonplace.
Barbasol has the opportunity to make a show of their status as a company for all generations. Shaving cream may not change much over time. But by adding the digital touch to their already incredible marketing, their shirt offerings could actually add a type of modern relevancy to their brand and a new way to connect with consumers as co-branders.