The NY Times article about Calvin Klein's perfume division's attempts to gain market share from twenty-somethings with a new perfume made us wonder many things. For starters, why did Calvin Klein Inc. (actual Calvin Klein the human is not involved) allow its marketing and positioning strategy to be exposed to so much ridicule?
The new fragrance, the "millennial" version of ckOne, is called CK in2u, which has its own online community website. THis would probably be acceptable if it were from Prince, but the shorthand is pretty dumb and something few 20-somethings would want to buy. Then again, maybe it's to prepare us for the inevitable follow-ups, CK LOL, CK ROFL, and CK ;).
Another question: Who decided this was the product for 20-somethings? Two people in CK's "technosexual" (don't ask) demographic are Zach Klein of College Humor, Vimeo, and other ventures and photoblogger Youngna Park, who also writes for Gothamist. From the Times:
[Youngna Park] would seem an ideal candidate to illustrate the term “technosexual,” if the idea did not immediately turn her off. “That’s such a weird phrase,” she said. “I just imagine kids putting on cologne to sit behind their computers. That’s really weird.”
A friend of Ms. Park’s, Zach Klein, 24, has also participated in market surveys attempting to distill his demographic, though he was skeptical of the idea of companies adapting to the language of the target audience.
“What’s most interesting about our generation is that it is very obvious when brands are attempting to market down to us when they use our own vernacular or types of personal technology,” Mr. Klein said. “It’s very transparent, and I tend to shy away.”
You'd think CK would have done enough market research to have predicted the extreme skepticism and wariness they have for the product. And Youngna wrote on her blog that she was "contacted not by the newspaper, but by the client, who arranged an interview time with the reporter from the paper." To CK's credit, at least they didn't offer plants.
And when was the last time any 20-something, or 30-something, or that matter, wore a Calvin Klein fragrance? We'd say high school would be the most common answer - those crazy Obsession ads from David Lynch were awesome.
That said, they say even bad publicity is good publicity. CK is introducing CKin2u in April. We actually think the perfume could be a great success - with high schoolers. Free advice to the CK marketing department: It's all about LiveJournal ads!
Photograph of what one Sharpie-wielding person thinks by limonada on Flickr