The Unfinished Sentence | Marketing Effectiveness versus Efficiency
A deep understanding of your consumer is needed to drive interest and build reputation.
Marketing Strategy, Marketing Effectiveness, Consumer Insight
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Recently, the “Most Popular” article in The New York Times was “There is a Right Way to Wash Your Hair” ( by Bee Shapiro.  For background, this article about hair washing was viewed and shared by more readers, than articles about POTUS, recent North Korean missile launches, and other pressing national and international issues.

Just why was a topic as humdrum as washing your hair so popular? Because of a focus on quality, context, and strong consumer understanding. The right message was delivered through the right medium. I do not believe this article would have been as popular using a different newspaper, or audience (The New York Times attracts an “upscale group of readers three times more likely to have a postgraduate degree and twice as likely to make more than $100K per year. The newspaper is a world leader for opinion and inspiring pieces… 

Christophe Robin, is a Parisian hair colorist and the hero of this article. He is a colorist to stars such as Catherine Deneuve, Tilda Swinton and Kristin Scott Thomas. Many  products he recommends in this article are from his own brand and cost $44 or more.  

According to Robin, this shampooing process “can take more time than the usual regimens, but if done correctly, the method can make each shampoo last longer”. Despite the fact that these products cost significantly more than average, and the process is more time-consuming and complex (which runs counter to the quick and simple trends of today), it struck a important chord with The New York Times audience.  In general, this audience tends to care more about quality of outcome.

This article is example of marketing done well. This story placement is credible and relevant, even though it is on a topic that would seemingly not attract the attention it has. And importantly, based on the popularity of the article, I believe that sales of the pre-treatment “Christophe Robin Moisturizing Hair Oil with Lavender” as well as his other products grew.

However, developing one well thought-out idea that singularly reaches and genuinely connects with its intended audience can be a scary proposition especially as efficiency has becomes an increasing force in business. We live, after all, in a world that often prizes efficiency above all else. How do we get more for less? How do we improve our cost per GRPs, increase click throughs, garner more likes?  Perhaps we are focusing too much on quantity for our effort and not enough on quality.  

How does one focus on subtleties that will break through and drive quality connections with the right consumers? First, always start with a deep understanding of your consumer and what truly motivates them.  Second, don’t be afraid to do good work on singular ideas that inspire and build reputation versus relying on data and efficiency measures to feel secure about decisions and delivery of metrics.  Inspiration and reputation are harder to measure, but ultimately they will lead to loyalty and revenue.

These steps are imperative to the long term health and success of your brand.  “There is a Right Way to Wash Your Hair” might not have been in every news outlet, but it was the right message based on the right insight to the right audience in the right medium. 

Claire Lundin
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