Sunday, November 21, 2010

Expo Keynote: P&G and Shopper Marketing

By Patrycja Malinowska
Procter & Gamble's response to emerging changes in consumer habits has been to make the shopper the focal point of its brand-building activity.

"The world is dramatically changing, markets are shifting, the profiles of consumers ... [are] different even than they were 10 to 15 years ago, and technology is completely transforming how we are touching and improving consumers' lives," according to Phil Duncan, P&G's global design officer, who delivered a keynote address last month at the In-Store Marketing Institute's Shopper Marketing Expo in Chicago.

While the company's experience consists of a wide range of brand equity (from the Charmin bears to Dolce & Gabbana perfumes), retail accounts (big box stores to bodegas) and markets (developed countries to emerging nations), the priority across all product categories is the retail environment, Duncan said. Because so many purchase decisions are made within the store, "We've got to be thinking about that more proactively and more strongly in the context of how we build our brands."

That's why Duncan also heads up P&G's shopper marketing efforts, he explained. "It became apparent that there were a lot of parallels between what we were trying to do from a shopper context and how we were building our brands."

A key part of his role, then, is to make sure that P&G's design and brand-building principles -- "Intuitive," "Relative and Distinct" and "Timely, Cohesive and Flexible" -- are integrated with its shopper constructs:
  • Make it simple: "Allow me to find what this brand is and what this product has to offer," he said.
  • Guide me ... "to the right selection that is best for my hair-type needs, my cosmetics needs, the end look that I'm looking for," Duncan said.
  • Delight me: "Consumers still want great delight," he said.
P&G considers five concepts to ensure that its brand-building efforts will resonate with shoppers at the point-of-purchase:

1. Think Big In-Store

Today, the "big idea" needs to start inside the store. (P&G first began talking about this "Store Back" concept in 2008. See "P&G Pushes ..." in Related Articles.)

Marketing no longer is about first creating a main idea, and then figuring out how to execute and engage the consumer at various touch points. Instead, Duncan said, you must first ask if the idea can be well-communicated in the store.

"We recognize that the store can be one of the most challenging environments for us to capture," Duncan said. Therefore, the "big idea" and the in-store execution plan must come together at the start.
  • To capitalize on the equity of Gain laundry detergent's distinctive scent, P&G wanted to help shoppers past the "taboo" of opening containers at the shelf. The company began by asking, "How do we get them to crack the cap in-store, and what's the commercial idea that works back through the path to purchase from the big idea context?" Duncan explained. The result was "Love at first sniff," a campaign that began with endcap displays and other P-O-P materials and continued through outdoor ads and digital marketing (the latter of which asked consumers to share their "Gain moments").
  • In another example, Duncan identified Bounty as a brand that had a real challenge sustaining its relevance in a down economy. "Paper towels are something that many consumers will either say, 'I don't need the most premium one' or 'I won't use them at all,'" he said. In response, P&G emphasized value through in-store imagery demonstrating the brand's ability to be reused due to its strength. The "Get it done with one" concept was then extended to the brand's overall ad campaign, a progression that "even four or five years ago wasn't even on the table" for consideration, Duncan said.

2. Fantastic Journey

Today's consumer needs to be engaged through the entire path-to-purchase, said Duncan, who emphasized the need to think holistically about reaching consumers everywhere they may interact with the brand -- rather than focusing primarily on the 30-second TV spot.
  • When planning the launch of Crest 3D White, P&G started with a visual image, then asked: "Does it and can it resonate in-store, and what are all those interceptions that we can make along the journey [to purchase]," he said. To present the new line as part of a beauty regimen that could improve appearance, P&G developed cohesive packaging, shelf displays and endcaps that brought the proposition to life. It also reached out to consumers through PR events, celebrity endorsements and other venues.
  • For the U.S. introduction of SK-II, a popular beauty brand in Asia merchandised in elaborate, high-end boutiques, P&G staged an upscale PR event in New York City that was marketed entirely in Chinese -- thus making it immediately relevant to that city's large Chinese population. (The campaign is an example of P&G's efforts to develop communication strategies that transcend geographic boundaries, Duncan said after the presentation. "We're really trying to work through how to engage consumers on a broad platform that's not specific to a single country," he said.)
  • To introduce an extended-use Bounce dryer bar, P&G had to help consumers understand the behavioral change it entailed and the benefits it provided, Duncan said. Again, the company looked for a signature visual that would translate to the store environment. After sharing some first-phase ideas and explaining why they didn't work, Duncan presented the ultimate execution, which contained a clear claim ("Automatic freshness and static control that lasts about four months") and appealing imagery. P&G then secured an endorsement from the iconic Kenmore appliance brand and created distinctive packaging that would stand out in the category's shelf set. The launch campaign also involved sending samples to "mommy bloggers" and other outspoken consumers, who then spread the word to other influentials, Duncan said. (The product is currently beating all sales objectives, he noted.)

3. The Best of Both Worlds

Digital engagement needs to focus on driving in-store purchase. "It's not just about repeating the same images over and over and over again to drive recognition," Duncan said. "We're finding that consumers grow pretty tired of that pretty quick." Therefore, it's important to create an engaging and relevant entertainment element, particularly in the digital space, he said.
  • For Charmin, P&G sponsored "Sit or Squat," a website and smartphone app that has users evaluating public restrooms across the U.S. to help others find clean accommodations. (Approximately 97,000 sites have been rated to date, Duncan said.) The brand employs the same blue and red bears in "Sit or Squat" promotions and in-store visuals. "We're clearly finding ways of bringing relevance in the digital space and recreating some components of that in-store," Duncan said.
  • For Iams pet food, P&G capitalized on consumer respect for veterinarians when developing the marketing plan. The company let consumers ask a vet questions on the brand's website, then depicted vets on in-store materials. "That's a pretty simple construct for us to translate back into the store environment and make really relevant," Duncan said.
  • During the post-presentation Q & A, Duncan discussed P&G's new "listening programs," which have the company tracking how people are engaging with brands in social media such as Twitter and YouTube to identify marketing opportunities. For example, the company used its popular "Old Spice Man" to engage consumers via Twitter, beginning by sending live feeds to several highly networked individuals to set off a viral spread. "Within three days, 40 million people were watching and responding on Twitter and competing for Old Spice Man to send [them] a message back," Duncan said. "We're mining [the digital] space like never before in terms of ideas and socializing and building our brands."

4. Branding Balance

Creating an iconic brand is important, but shoppability must also be served. "Help the consumer navigate your proposition," Duncan said.
  • The need to merchandise a large number of SKUs in a fun, yet clear, manner makes the cosmetics category challenging, Duncan noted. Over the last two years, P&G has evolved and improved in-line displays for CoverGirl in ways that help the shopper "feel beautiful" while easily finding what she wants. The result has been improved brand share and sales, he said.
  • Conversely, early success with Pantene "went to our head," Duncan said. "We kept launching initiative after initiative ... and after about four or five years, the consumer as shopper went, 'I'm out. I can't find what I want,'" he explained. The company therefore undertook a major "reframe" to improve shoppability, relaunching the brand with new packaging and in-line displays that break down the huge portfolio's various components.
  • Remaining relevant in-store requires rapid prototyping, Duncan said. For Olay, P&G is working at the shelf to call out the different elements in the brand franchise to help shoppers navigate through all the SKUs. "Putting something out there, seeing how it works, and changing and modifying it" as necessary is a process that must happen faster, Duncan said.
  • In response to another question, Duncan explained that P&G's traditional approach to copy testing is changing dramatically due to the speed of today's marketplace. "Technology today enables you to understand quickly if something is going to resonate -- and if it doesn't, well, pull it off," he said. As an example, he used P&G's late-entry sponsorship of the U.S. Olympic Team at the 2010 Winter Olympics. (See "P&G brandSaver Solutions: January 2010.") With no time to conduct traditional ad testing, the company instead used YouTube over one weekend to gauge consumer response to its planned TV spots.

5. Brand Karma

Consumers today are much more discerning about the brands they choose to associate with, Duncan said. "They expect us -- they don't want us, but they expect us -- to be doing good," he said before offering several recent examples:
  • Tide's "Loads of Hope" is a program that delivers free laundry services to displaced consumers after major disasters.
  • "Children's Safe Drinking Water" is an effort from Pur that provides children in developing countries with the chemicals needed to make dirty water drinkable.
  • Within 20 years, P&G plans to obtain all the power for its manufacturing plants from self-generated, sustainable sources and make all products with sustainable or recyclable elements. "In that context, we've started a program called 'Future Friendly,'" Damon said, to showcase its sustainable products and spread awareness. (See video below.)
In concluding the presentation, Duncan challenged the audience to likewise think less about selling to consumers and more about enhancing their lives.

Published: November 2010

Source: In-Store Marketing Institute