Contrex – A Unique Differentiation Strategy

On the water market, where the product is a commodity, spread a message, an ideology or an experience are key elements of demarcation for the brands to attract consumers. Let’s take a look at the brand strategy of Contrex, which is a good example of differentiation.

Since the beginning, Contrex has made the choice to position itself as a “slimness water”. Furthermore, if the brand started to target both men and women, Contrex quickly changed its perspective and focus entirely its strategy on women. We can definitely recognize the strategic choice of the brand on this point. What a great idea to target women, when it’s still deeply rooted in our society that they are the ones in charge of doing the groceries for the family. Moreover, the brand is also completely in line with the societal trends of diet and well-being. The brand has set up a cultural branding strategy, a tool developed by Douglas Holt in his book “How Brands Become Icons: The Principles of Cultural Branding”. At a time where the “junk food and junk drinks” imposed itself and where other bottled water brand promotes only the freshness of their water, Contrex pinpoint a cultural opportunity in society lead by the crowd-culture* of women wanting to regain control of their body. They succeed in becoming one of the leader of the market by providing an image different from their competitors and by spreading to a large audience the “ideology” of the crowd-culture.

How Contrex succeed in diffusing this ‘ideology’?

It’s in 2011, that Contrex truly modernized its brand image [1]. The brand decided to orientate all its communication on TV advertisement and online marketing through which the message evolved. In fact, at first the advertisements were addressed to each woman individually by promoting the good effects of the Contrex water.  Now, Contrex emphasizes the act of drinking Contrex as an experience shared by many women. The brand really aimed to create an interactivity with and between its consumers, to gather them into a community behind the idea of well-being by combining a regular physical activity and the consumption of Contrex. To do so, they set up several action plans such as an online tool which can provide to women an individual diagnosis within two days by making them answered beforehand to some thirty questions about their life hygiene. The brand also created a loyalty program as one step closer to the goal of developing a strong community around one experience.

The same year, the brand came up with “My Contrex Experience”, the TV ad which diffused massively the ideology mentioned above. The video was a real buzz on social media with almost 20 000 000 views on the brand Youtube channel. Following this huge success, Contrex came back with a season 2 in 2013. Let’s see both ads…

With this ad, the brand spread the message of “Slimming doesn’t have to be boring” (In French “On mincirait mieux si c’était plus fun”). The ad was organized as a flash mob in the street. It’s interesting to notice that the brand is not clearly showed at the beginning, only some clues were given such as the pink color and a furtive apparition of Contrex bottles besides the bikes. During the advertisement, with the song “Comment te dire adieu” of Françoise Hardy in background women start to pedal when an animation of a man stripping appears, which makes the participants pedal even more. At the end, when the man is about to totally strip, the animation informs them they have just lost 2000 calories. The brand provided to the participants the Contrex experience, which the brand claims to offer to all its consumers. The main idea of the ad is “when we are doing it together it’s funnier and more simple”. In this advertisement we also can find the idea of “after effort comes comfort”. The comfort here is even triple for the participant because they lost some weight, had fun and drank fresh and slimming water at the end. At the end, the advertisement is showing to women that they are not alone anymore and that’s a better life-style is possible. This is the myth Contrex wanted to diffuse.

Even more than a message, Contrex talked about something that matter for women and the brand did it especially well by using a sense of humor but also music and colors. By doing this, Contrex was also affirming its identity and especially its visual and acoustic identity. The song used in the advertisement is “Comment te dire adieu” of Françoise Hardy, which was surely chosen by the brand due to the image of its interpret, an iconic French beauty in the sixties. This music is now assimilating to the brand, which applies also for the color pink used a lot in the advertisement.  This color was surely selected as it traditionally represents women as well as a form of romanticism, dynamism and happiness as expressed by the expression “see everything through rose-colored glasses” (In French “Voir la vie en rose”). Furthermore, the atmosphere in the advertisement is joyful and put on a humorous tone especially with the diversion of the image of “woman as an object” into “man as an object” as a feminist message saying that women are taking (back) the power.

It’s really thanks to social media that Contrex were able to seize the cultural opportunity and share a new ideology.

Beside the ad, Contrex has also came up with different communication ideas. Also, they created a spoke-character, Clémentine a dynamic, 000015714_87clumsy, coquette and always in a great mood woman. She represents the friend that all women want to have, a friend with whom they want to share all the small concerns of the everyday life.  Through this character the brand has shared some helpful tips and created slimness challenges. The brand has an unlimited imagination and also imagine an anti-cracking game, where a man voice is telling you to not cracking up. [2]

Through all these marketing and communication actions, the brand really succeeds in attracting more consumers and thus, became the leader on the market of “slimness water” followed closely by the brands Taillefine and Courmayer. What Contrex succeed to do more than its direct competitors is to create a real universe around the product especially by using social medias. According to the analyze above, we can say that the brand personality of Contrex have the dimension “excitement” from Jennifer Aacker’s brand framework [3], which means it is perceived as imaginative, daring and dynamic.

Brand Identity Prism_Contrex.png

The brand didn’t chose to make celebrity endorsement. But if they chose to do it for France, it is interesting to determine who could be the ambassador of the brand to emphasis the brand personality of Contrex. Why not, the French television presenter Karine Ferri? In fact, she definitely corresponds to the brand image of Contrex in that she is a joyful, feminine and a little sportive woman. She is also very liked by French women and thus could be a good model.

*Crowd-culture, term used by D.Holt to designate emerging sub-cultures, which have become powerful cultural innovator.



[2] https://www.contrex.f r/



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