Taking another look at Superdrug's brand positioning

I always take a keen interest in TV advertising running up to Christmas; who’s spending, who’s out to make the biggest impact in the primetime slots and who has changed their marketing strategy completely. This month, Superdrug’s TV comeback has caught my eye, especially as I manage the account for a leading high street pharmacy brand at Delineo.

Superdrug have changed. Something is very different.

Despite having a different core offering and target audience to my client, it’s always good to monitor what the competition are doing. There is a natural product overlap across all the high street pharmacy chains and making your message stand out in such a competitive market is tough. Especially at Christmas.

Boots dominate the beauty sector and creating brand loyalty when you don’t have an Advantage card scheme or a strong high street presence is a challenge. What’s more, supermarket chains are attacking the main pharmacy retailers (from a price and convenience perspective). This increase in competition is putting more pressure on high street stores to offer discounts, incentives and extensive product ranges.

A Verdict report on buying behaviour in the personal care market indicates that while Superdrug continues to have a high resonance with younger females, it has struggled with competition from supermarkets and lack of customer loyalty. Historically, Superdrug has been perceived as a low-end destination for budget beauty and, because of their female-orientated marketing, has often been disregarded by the male gender.

Superdrug have clearly decided that now is the time to up their game, repositioning their brand to take on the market leaders. The advertising campaign ‘Take another look’, asks us to abandon our preconceived ideas of the company and give the store another chance. It’s been ten years since Superdrug launched their previous TV advertising campaign and it’s been reported that the organisation expects to double their annual marketing budget to nearer £15 million.

As a woman, I spend a fortune on cosmetics and toiletries (more than I’d like to own up to). However, Superdrug is simply somewhere I avoid; despite knowing that the products are probably cheaper than where I usually shop. I leave ‘the bright pink shop’ to the teenagers trying on glittery make-up and sampling Z-list celebrity perfume.

The new face of Superdrug is Gavin & Stacey actress Joanna Page who appears in the TV and radio campaign, as well as featuring in the in-store promotions. Her appearance tells us a lot about the demographic Superdrug are attempting to appeal to; women in their early thirties with a disposable income. It’s quite the leap from their previous customer base. The current TV advert certainly has a Boots-inspired ‘here come the girls’ feel about it, right down to the soundtrack. It’s more upmarket and I honestly didn’t realise it was Superdrug when I first watched it.

It shows Joanna and her (assumingly new!) boyfriend frantically making themselves presentable before the other wakes up (an indication that the ‘new Superdrug’ wants to be seen catering for the men of the house). It’s an ambitious campaign and one which firmly points the company branding in a new direction. I will be very interested to hear about their sales performance after Christmas.