Suave Fooled A Bunch Of Beauty Influencers Into Thinking It Was Luxury Haircare

By Jeff Beer

Would you eat more Spam if it was sold at Whole Foods in fancy packaging and cost twice the price? The impact of price and package design on how we evaluate the value and quality of a product have long been debated and exploited. Chevy’s been doing it for years. Even Pizza Hut did it a decade ago with a fake Italian restaurant in New York City.

Now Unilever’s jumped into the fray with its brand Suave, a standard off-the-pharmacy-shelf shampoo and haircare brand that wanted to test its quality against the preconceived notions of millennial shoppers.

A group of beauty influencers was given a new product to test called Evaus (Suave, backwards), presented with a slick minimal design and premium price tag. After gushing about its quality and style, they’re told it’s actually Suave. Doh!

The idea for the campaign emerged from brand research on millennial spending habits. Some standout stats they found included seven in 10 women feel that premium or higher-priced brands and products are more trustworthy than value or lower-priced brands and products, 89% of millennial women say they wish there were more value brands that did not sacrifice quality, and 92% of millennial women agree that they would buy a lower priced hair care product as long as quality was not sacrificed.

If the ol’ bait-and-switch, surprise reveal ad technique using real people to make a point feels very Dove-y, Suave’s brand director Jennifer Bremner spent years at the Real Beauty brand.

“We know that women are skeptical of quality if the price tag is too low, and we really wanted to get to the root of that dichotomy,” says Bremner. “Each time a Suave Professionals line is launched, it goes through rigorous testing against a salon brand benchmark line and every time we have been able to claim that Suave works as well as those salon benchmarks. Still, some women see our products as lower quality simply because they are at a lower price point. As a brand, Suave really aims to show women that value and quality can, and should co-exist, so we decided to peel back the label, and Evaus was born.”

Bremner says one of the biggest things she learned from her time at Dove was that the best work starts by really listening to women.  “On Suave, we learned from our listening that labels and price tags can play an outsized role in purchase decisions,” she says. “We also know from our research and social listening that women are often pleasantly surprised by the great results they get from Suave.  We thought there was an interesting story to be told around perceptions and how consumers don’t have to pay a premium price for premium quality. It also made sense for us to use beauty influencers, who are known to be very discerning, to demonstrate the quality of the Suave products.”

Fast Company