A top ad executive says the traditional way of driving sales 'just doesn’t cut it any longer,' and that a new model is emerging

  • Consumers are no longer swayed by bogus, emotion-drive advertising claims, says a top media executive.
  • Direct brands like Harry’s and Casper are succeeding not by hyping up endless lines of product variations – but rather by offering simplicity and expertise.
  • In this op-ed, Will Wiseman, chief strategy officer at PHD US, says that direct brands like Casper and Harry’s prove people want simplicity.

Harry’s and Casper mattresss are just two brands that have reshaped how consumer trust is built in a US advertising landscape no longer responsive to grandiose claims.

The traditional approach of claiming that a shave is ‘the best a man can get’ and then delivering an expensive razor, on a par with dozens of seemingly undifferentiated models with names like ‘Turbo’ and ‘Mach’, just doesn’t cut it any longer.

For years, conventional wisdom has implied that if you have a great brand personality, you can sell a parity product. The new model – in a world where trust is essential-is to start with a great product and communicate it with a distinctive personality. Trust is about passion. Trust is about expertise.

The Harry’s brand was built on the idea that consumers don’t really need as much choice as they’re being offered when it comes to razors. For it to achieve relevance, it just had to be the best product, made by people passionate about shaving.

Harry’s makes a great product by embracing simplicity. It only sells one type of blade, and refills come in at about $US1.87 a cartridge. You can get a rubber handle to put those blades in for $US9, or upgrade to a metal one for $US20. That’s pretty much it. Today, Harry’s does around $US200 million a year in sales.

Casper adopted a similar approach to produce the ‘one perfect mattress.’

The direct-to-consumer bed upstart grew trust by eliminating the unnecessary category choices and communicating its passion and expertise for a single kind of mattress that combined the two materials that consumers tend to prefer above others – foam and latex.

Unnamed 13OMDWill Wiseman

It was a strategy that helped get Casper to $US1 million in sales during its first month and $US100 million within its first two years. And just like Harry’s, the strategy creates a more elegant path to brand trustworthiness, as it improves people’s lives by removing complexity, saving them money, and delivering a great product.

Once product expertise and category passion has been established, relevancy can grow by being more human and relatable. Instead of big claims, sometimes it’s about little obsessions. Casper is obsessed with delivering the perfect night of sleep. A good night sleep makes everyone a little happier, and Casper’s obsession with it makes them a lot more loveable.

The new path to trust is clear: start with an uncommon passion for what you do, make an exceptional product, and communicate it with an unforgettable personality.

Will Wiseman, Chief Strategy Officer, PHD U.S. suggests a more effective path to brand trust, forged with simplicity, passion and single-minded expertise.

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