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No 7 boosted sales by tackling ‘lockdown lines’

The WPP WBA team (led by VMLY&R) won the ‘Customer insight’ category of The Drum Awards for Marketing 2021 with its ‘Lockdown Lines’ campaign for No 7 Global Brands. Here, the team behind the winning entry reveal the secrets of this successful project…

The challenge

Owned by Boots Retail, part of the Walgreens Boots Alliance, the No7 Beauty Company is well-known throughout the UK for its affordable but effective ‘Pro-age’ line of serums. No7 needed to make a big splash with its new campaign for No7 Laboratories Line Correcting Booster Serum (LCBS), historically the line's top-selling product. A key challenge was that the product had been on the market for 3 years and there was nothing new to highlight in the campaign.

No7 needed to boost sales in order to have a profitable promotion. The brand hoped that by enticing existing customers to expand their baskets and by captivating new customers to add LCBS into their skincare regime, we could successfully reach these goals. In order to generate long-term growth, we had to keep these customers coming back for more.

Our work was cut out for us: we had 4 weeks from brief to live date to produce a new integrated campaign, with high sales objectives and a customer benefit that was not immediately apparent.

The strategy

In order to make the kind of cultural splash No7 Laboratories needed, we put the customer experience at the center of our thinking. This involved acknowledging a cultural truth our competitors were trying to ignore: 2020 aged us. Zoom and video conferencing apps became mirrors that not only changed the way we now communicate, they also altered the way we see ourselves. We put weddings, graduations, birthdays, and anniversaries on hold and became more aware that time was passing us by.

LCBS’s core audience is women aged 45+, many of whom already balance careers and children in normal circumstances. Now in the pandemic, they had even less time for self-care as they juggled being professionals, caretakers, teachers, chefs, partners, therapists, and world builders for their children all at once. With new stresses and no escape, many felt overwhelmed.

With the help of dermatologists and skincare experts, we found that 6 out of 10 UK women noticed new wrinkles on their face during the pandemic. These newly noticed fine lines seemed to appear during the pandemic due to lifestyle changes such as homeschooling and smiling on Zoom calls all day long.

We coined these newly acknowledged signs of aging ‘lockdown lines’ and positioned our product as the unique solution to this shared cultural experience. While our competitors were still talking about beauty as a return to a former state of youth, we saw a powerful opportunity to transform the way we talked about skincare in a year that made us so acutely aware of how time had passed.

The campaign

We knew our product could produce smoother skin in 12 weeks, but as we developed creative, we asked ourselves: what if life could be smoother in 12 weeks? Embracing the British mantra of coping (“laugh so you don’t cry”), we leaned into the cultural frustrations our competitors were trying to ignore. Leveraging a mix of real women, British comedians, and other micro-influencers in our hero film, we made our money work harder by having our influencers create ‘lockdown lines’ content on their owned social media channels. We partnered with the Daily Mail to expand our reach even further, and the trend got picked up organically in other major news outlets like Telegraph, Refinery 29, and Glamour – all celebrating how No7 brought consumer insights to life through the creative work.

This campaign represented a fundamental shift in tone and focus for No7’s advertising. And our gamble paid off: all these activities helped us reach beyond our core beauty-involved audience to a broader set of busy women who noticed ‘lockdown lines.’ And soon enough, products started flying off the virtual shelves.

The results

By day 4 of the 4-week campaign, we exceeded our original sales uplift goal.

Overnight, No7 Laboratories Line Correcting Booster Serum became the top selling product in revenue, profit, and volume on Boots.com. And 40% of those customers were entirely new to Boots. LCBS continued as the top selling (revenue, profit, and volume) product for the entirety of the campaign.

But most exciting was the fact that No7 was changing the cultural conversation around skincare and self-care during the pandemic.

This project was a winner at The Drum Awards for Marketing 2021. Find out which competitions in The Drum Awards are currently open and don’t forget to visit our new interactive calendar.

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