Tom Dougherty, CEO – Stealing Share
1 July 2019
Nicorette. The subtle repositioning of a brand.
A transformation is happening. Right before our eyes — or maybe through our noses. Nicorette. You know it? It is a nicotine delivery system. It sells products containing nicotine in a variety of forms. Sprays. Gums. And lozenges.
I’m not a smoker. Never have been. But I still knew the brand. One of my former colleagues was almost a chain smoker. On flights, he was popping Nicorette gum into his mouth so often it alarmed me. He was a chain chewer.
I am trying to remember clearly, but I don’t remember him being an avid quitter. You know, the folks that are always in the process of quitting smoking. He enjoyed his cigarettes too much.
Plus, he was a young man. The tragic effects of smoking? Years away.
I never thought much about it. But I knew Nicorette because it advertises ways to help quit the embracing tobacco habit.
It still carries that brand message. Look at the recent Nicorette ad below.
“But brand repositioning, as a science, reinforces existing behaviors and aligns the brand with them. It’s a simple way to gain brand momentum and grow market share. Nicorette is looking like a case in point to me.”
The Nicorette unspoken promise
So helping tobacco addicts quit is the brand’s position. It positions the brand as one of the good guys. They are not selling nicotine. They are selling a means to stop the addiction.
I thought of the brand as oddly socially conscious.
But my buddy saw it differently
He saw it as a fix of nicotine when smoking is illegal or inconvenient.
Apparently, he was a man of his times. And a living member of the new normal.
Look at this new ad currently on TV. It was this ad that caught my attention. I thought, “Wow. Nicorette is promoting itself differently — get your fix when smoking is not allowed.”
I was surprised to see both messages running simultaneously today. I thought the Nicorette brand has been repositioned. In fact, it only nudges the brand slightly to the right.
Change. Tobacco and nicotine has changed.
Today, if you are serious about quitting, your MD prescribes a transdermal patch. Or you take one of the drugs designed to ease the withdrawal symptoms. I wrote a post a while back about one (Chantix).
But today, there are lots of choices.
Vaping changes the game. It makes smoking socially acceptable among a young generation. And medicine believes health risks remain with vaping. But it is seen as cool again.
A fanciful mix of technology and drugs. Many friends of mine vape THC all the time. As a child of the 60’s, smoking dope never held the same connotation as cigarette smoking.. The latter was stupid and weak. The former was cool, illegal and counter culture.
Nicorette. Part of the problem and (wink wink— solution).
Sometimes, as a brand guy, I have internal moral conflicts with my job. I find ways to make people covet material things. Sometimes, to their own detriment.
Luckily, I have also worked on brands that have a higher moral calling. Cardiac medicine, aging care, disease control, and non-profits. I can sleep at night.
But brand repositioning, as a science, reinforces existing behaviors and aligns the brand with them. It’s a simple way to gain brand momentum and grow market share.
Nicorette is looking like a case in point to me. I would say good on you. But I’m not feeling it. Sometimes the truth does not feel too good.
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