Lexicon Business Communications

How to Sell Beer and Toothpaste

In the fast-moving world of marketing, some principles remain timeless. Claude Hopkins, a pioneer in the field, revolutionized marketing with his strategic approach and data-driven techniques. His groundbreaking work, "Scientific Advertising," continues to influence how brands tell their stories today.

The Power of First-Mover Advantage

One of Hopkins’s most celebrated achievements was transforming Schlitz beer into a market leader by highlighting a common practice among brewers—pure bottled beer—something no one else was advertising. By focusing on the purity of Schlitz’s brewing process, he offered consumers transparency and a narrative of quality, setting Schlitz apart in a crowded market. This campaign catapulted Schlitz from fifth place into a tie for first, demonstrating the power of strategic storytelling and market positioning.

Pepsodent Toothpaste

Hopkins’ Pepsodent campaign capitalized on the aesthetic appeal of whiter teeth, introducing the concept of the “Pepsodent smile.” Before this campaign, only 7% of Americans used toothpaste; afterward, that number rose to 65%. This focus on a specific, desirable outcome revolutionized toothpaste marketing and demonstrated Hopkins's ability to connect products to deeper personal aspirations.

Testing and Refinement: The Science of Precision

Hopkins was ahead of his time in applying what we now recognize as A/B testing. In "Scientific Advertising," he meticulously used coupons and specific codes within his ads to track their performance across different variables. By methodically testing variations in wording, offers, and placement, Hopkins could scientifically determine the most effective elements in his ads, paving the way for data-driven marketing practices seen today.

Clarity and Specificity

Hopkins was a master at harnessing the power of precise communication in advertising. His belief in making specific, clear claims helped transform vague assertions into tangible, trustworthy advertisements. This strategic approach built trust and reliability with the audience, setting a new standard in advertising honesty.

Educational Marketing

Hopkins often educated consumers about a product’s unique benefits. He believed that informed customers were more likely to appreciate the value of a product and make a purchase decision. By explaining how a product worked or why it was superior, Hopkins’s campaigns did more than sell; they enlightened, adding a layer of value that emotional appeals alone could not achieve.

Modern Application of Hopkins’s Strategies

Claude Hopkins’s principles continue to shape today’s digital marketing landscape. Companies like Google and Amazon epitomize his legacy through their rigorous use of A/B testing to optimize user experience and marketing messages. Content marketing has also evolved as a primary strategy, heavily leaning on educating consumers—a concept championed by Hopkins.

The principle of first-mover advantage remains powerful today. When Dollar Shave Club launched, it used a viral video to promote its subscription razor service, transforming a commonplace idea into a unique selling proposition that captivated the market. This strategy mirrors Hopkins’s use of first-mover advantage, demonstrating the enduring power of his marketing principles.


Claude Hopkins’s contributions to marketing underscore the importance of innovation, precision, and customer education in building compelling marketing narratives. Today’s marketers can draw on his timeless wisdom to craft strategies that resonate with consumers and foster lasting loyalty.

As the founder of Lexicon, Bangkok’s #1 Digital Storytelling agency, I see the impact of Hopkins’s approach daily. His lessons on good copy, compelling headlines, and strategic A/B testing continue to inform best practices in modern marketing.


David Norcross is an award-winning LinkedIn and marketing expert with over 20 years of experience. He is the founder and CEO of Lexicon, an award-winning brand storytelling agency in Thailand.