Who exactly ratified Parachute Advansed’s bombastic claim of ‘World’s Best Hair’?

One of the oldest and most useful techniques PR and marketing folks use, to promote a product or a product’s positioning, is surveys and survey results. There was a time when survey results helped set perceptions about brands and their positioning, but in recent times, I have seen brands grazing through the results, only for marketing benefit – one brand even announced something mighty bombastic while the fine print actually said, ‘Survey result among 99 women’!

This morning, there’s an interesting and equally bombastic claim from Parachute Advansed.

The ad. featuring Deepika Padukone announces that,

Indian hair oiled with Parachute Advansed Hair Oil is significantly superior when compared to other hair types. Indian hair oiled with Parachute Advansed Hair Oil was found to be stronger, thicker, longer, softer and less damaged when compared to other hair types, making it the World’s Best Hair.

There are fine prints galore, as expected. They include,

  1. Based on study conducted in April 2012.
  2. Compared to non-oiled hair.
  3. Results may vary from individual to individual depending on their health and food habits.
  4. Refers to Indian hair oiled with Parachute Advansed.
  5. Refers to unoiled hair of other ethnicities.

As a normal consumer of the ad., a few reasonable questions.

  1. What was the duration of the study? Does ‘conducted in April 2012′ mean, it was a 30 day study?
  2. Who conducted the study and who audited the results? Wouldn’t that matter in making such a HUGE claim?
  3. What was the median/average health and food habits of the people who were part of the study? Doesn’t that matter when there is a disclaimer on the results being different from individual to individual – I mean, what is the base from which Parachute’s research starts?
  4. ‘Indian hair oiled with’? Which states come under ‘Indian’? Aren’t there state-wise differences in hair quality, even within India? Kerala, for instance, is known for using coconut oil regularly, while Tamil Nadu loves using shikakai for cleaning hair. North-eastern states may have different hair textures from rest of the country. What is ‘Indian’ in this context, then?
  5. ‘unoiled hair of other ethnicities’? This is the shadiest of all other fine-print claims. Which other ethnicities were part of this study? How many people were in the study?

Above all, why doesn’t the fine-print text talk about these points and merely talks of vague things?

I went to Parachute’s website to get some update. A blurb that says, ‘Get the world’s best hair’ takes me to a PDF file.

Ironically, that PDF starts with the text ‘ADVT’ on the top right corner and that I hope indicates ‘Advertising’, as usual. If that IS ‘advertising’, who is making these claims? Parachute themselves? Am I starting to go round in circles, now?

A press release shared for this purpose has this to say (emphasis is mine – not from the source).

A recent international hair research which studied various hair types across the world has found that Indian hair oiled with Parachute Advansed Hair Oil is significantly superior when compared to other hair types. Indian hair oiled with Parachute Advansed Hair Oil was found to be stronger, thicker, longer, softer and less damaged when compared to other hair types, making it the World’s Best Hair.# After examining the cross sectional areas of different types of hair, scientists have concluded that Indian hair oiled with Parachute Advansed Hair Oil was thicker with statistically superior fibre properties, indicating that it is much stronger than other hair types.

So, here’s the picture.

Parachute Advansed claims, in a large print ad. that Indian hair oiled with Parachute Advansed is significantly superior when compared to other hair types. They also claim that this results in such people’s hair being the ‘world’s best hair’. They add some fine-print in the bottom to corroborate the claims.

The website includes a PDF to explain this phenomenon further and that turns out to be another advertisement, again, from Parachute Advansed.

Now, I completely buy the fact that 99.9% of women out there would be (a) gullible enough, (b) won’t have the time to or (c) both (a) and (b), to seek information beyond what has been added in BIG BOLD text in the print ad. And I’m sure with such a mega claim, sales will go through the roof. That’s marketing.

But, is this claim valid? If so, who is validating this claim? And, on what basis? If the Drug Control Department in Kerala can raid hair oil and skin care brands that make incredible claims, who can validate or at least cross-check the claims made by Parachute Advansed?

I’m totally open to the possibility that folks at Parachute Advansed have their rear sides covered with a perfectly legitimate third-party to endorse this study and its results. It merely doesn’t come across as convincingly in the communication in the advertisement and the website.

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  • http://vharicharan.blogspot.com/ H

    Totally agree with this. What is more disgusting is the fact that this coming from a very established brand. Of course we now have India’s #1 Aata, India’s #1 Fan, India’s #1 Fairness Cream …

  • http://www.facebook.com/deepansh.agarwal Deepansh Agarwal

    Nobody today wants to ask these questions. So many surveys and studies are conducted by organizations just for marketing gains. Very few people I know have asked me for the methodology of a survey or a study. People are ready to accept reports on face value. In fact, at times the claims are so glaring (like this one), that one can understand after reading the headline itself that something is amiss. Still, they find place in mainstream advertising / media.

  • http://scattershotmarketing.blogspot.com/ iamscattershot

    Excellent article and amazing observations (as usual). I
    thought about two things when I read the article :

     

    1. Trust: In
    today’s economy trust is one of the major factors which people consider when
    buying brands. A 2004 study in the Journal of Consumer Research found
    trustworthiness to be one of the most highly correlated attributes with brand
    preference. It trumped “expertise.” And in a McCann-Erickson study of
    young consumers conducted earlier this year, authenticity and trustworthiness
    were among the most important attributes cited for preferred brands. 

     

    The focus should be more on creating more tangible platforms
    than a vague and weak World’s best hair which seems flimsy when the surface is
    scratched ( as in your blog post). Acts such as these help garner temporary
    attention but will not earn a lot in the long run especially in critical times
    such as these. Take a few examples of how firms differentiate themselves. Apple
    says that it will not accept apps for pornography. SC Johnson goes beyond the
    industry standard to be more transparent about the ingredients in its products.
    The values and interactions the brand has with the consumer say a lot about the
    firm under the scanner.

     

    2. What to do? : Almost all the time,
    brand managers focus more on PODs. And in a cluttered market this is very
    important to slice through the crowd. Agree that any brand positioning exercise
    should start with a clear goal, a frame of reference of what consumers can
    expect to achieve by using the brand. Choosing the proper frame is important
    because it dictates the types of associations that will function as points of
    parity and points of difference. When a new product is launched, the brand has
    to educate its consumers on how to use and what purpose it will serve. However
    in later stages of the product cycle, there may be multiple options available
    at the consumer’s disposal. Accordingly, the product needs to shift its frame
    of reference. The case of FedEx illustrates this evolution.

    When FedEx was
    launched, its POD was overnight delivery. As the US postal service did not have this
    service it positioned itself on the ‘overnight delivery’ plank. As other
    similar services appeared the frame of reference changed. With the crowding and
    risen consumer expectations the frame of reference changed to service and
    reliability. This point of difference was reflected in its advertising slogan,
    “When it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight.”

    In India
    the conditioning market is huge with people using hair oils as an after rinse
    application, but what has been eating into it in the recent past is the
    ‘conditioner’. Hence the frame of reference changes, the competition changes.
    What Parachute should work towards is how people are increasingly substituting
    hair oils with conditioners. Are these consumers substituting hair oils with
    conditioners? In the current campaign it aims to position itself against the
    current competition, but is that where the market is headed?

    Have
    seen the advertisments and the facebook page. Parachute has definitely gone
    ahead and covered a lot of ground making sure they ‘validate’ the data they
    claim. But the question is why so much fuss for this positioning platform?
    Don’t believe it’s worth the effort.

    • http://itwofs.com/beastoftraal/ Karthik Srinivasan

      Very well summarized – great points!

  • BowerikWowbagr

    As a supporter of Team anna and a h8r of corruption, i applaud ur internet vigilance and pro-blogging. May god bless u with RTs, buzz and relevance.  #teamanna

  • BowerikWowbagr

    And why is it called Advansed?  #spellcheck fail?