Mark Prus, Principal, NameFlash, Name Development

About a year and a half ago I wrote a blog post explaining the secret of the number 7 for Procter & Gamble.

I guess the trends about media overload are true—now Procter & Gamble has cut the “magic number” down to 5, and another company has jumped on the 5 bandwagon as well. However, these two companies have gone about it in a different way.

Procter & Gamble’s Gillette® Fusion ProGlide Irritation Defense Shave Gel helps defend against the 5 signs of shaving irritation, which in case you don’t know are: nicks & cuts, burning, stinging, redness and tightness.  Wait, isn’t that 6? Anyway, this Gillette work mirrors the Olay Total Effects line which introduced us to “Anti-aging skin care products that moisturize and fight seven signs of aging.

Garnier® BB Cream claims to offer 5 instant results, which are: evens tone, hydrates, renews, protects and brightens. Garnier® also claims that the use of said product will result in “Instant Perfection,” which makes me glad I don’t work in the claim support department of Garnier® USA.

Of course I find it interesting that “5 is the new 7,” because it is probably a reflection on the lack of attentiveness of potential buyers—these are individuals who are probably multitasking and therefore have short attention spans—how could they be bothered to consider 7 things?

What I find most interesting is the fact that the recent P&G work relates to the problems that their product addresses, while the Garnier work relates to the multiple benefits the product provides.

A subtle difference?  Yes, but perhaps an important one. I know that the P&G method of addressing problems works because they have expanded it across their portfolio of products. But I think the Garnier method of relating to the solutions, not the problems, will work as well, and may even work better in the long run. Historically, consumers are more motivated by benefits and solutions (even if this one is the highly unlikely “Instant Perfection”).

What do you think? Which approach is better? And what is your guess as to the next “number” people will focus on…4? 3? 2? I’m betting 5 is the limit because that really sounds like a lot, but history tells us that “3 is the magic number!” (Thank you, Schoolhouse Rock!).