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Meeting the everyday needs of moms is a topic we will hear a lot about during this week’s M2Moms® in Chicago.  While marketers may be quick to set their sights on the ten percent of the population sitting on the leading edge of brands, experiences and culture, it is actually more rewarding to find joy in the everyday—a theme that will be the focus of an M2Moms® presentation led by Katherine Wintsch of The Martin Agency and Jamie Sohosky of Walmart.   A new national study reaffirms the idea that moms are looking for help in solving their everyday issues with 73 percent of women reporting to be sometimes disappointed with their purchase of household products, describing 25 percent fail to live up to expectations.  However, 84 percent of women do like to try innovative products they come across while shopping, and 96 percent reported they often seek out products for under $20 that can help with household needs.

It’s with these women in mind that P&G conceptualized the Have You Tried This Yet? campaign as a means to highlight unique, innovative products that meet the everyday needs of consumers. “At P&G we are committed to responding to our consumers’ needs and providing straightforward solutions for everyday issues,” says Nataraj Iyer, Associate Marketing Director P&G U.S. Operations. Fifty-one percent of women said they feel overwhelmed when shopping for family essentials. “The Have You Tried This Yet? initiative offers many of P&G’s most innovative products, which can help moms conveniently meet their daily needs, as well as those of their families.”

Have You Tried This Yet? will be supported through a variety of consumer touch-points. On Sunday, October 31, P&G will distribute a complimentary coupon booklet that features more than $113 in savings on the campaign’s featured innovative products, in local newspapers throughout the country.  And, from October 22-31, a free, interactive Have You Tried This Yet? Pop-Up experience will be open to the public in New York City and will offer free demonstrations and product samples from brands such as Tide®, Bounty®, Pringles®, Charmin®, Febreze®, COVERGIRL®, and Olay®, allowing consumers to experience first-hand the innovations and value each product offers.

Be sure to follow M2Moms® on Twitter this week to see more great insight from speakers such as Wintsch and Sohosky!  Follow #M2Moms

Child development is always an important part of a brand’s marketing to mom discussion and a topic that has been covered at many a M2Moms®-The Marketing To Moms Conference.  Which is why when this new data came our way, we knew we had to share this with you. Our friends at Circle of Moms (you may have met their CEO Ephraim Luft during last year’s M2Moms® as he led one of our lunch roundtable discussions) have some interesting new insight regarding Moms in the U.S. that could affect your marketing to mom strategies.  According to the results of their research, there appears to be strong regional differences in child development.  For example:

Solid Foods: Moms in the Northeast give their children solid food nearly two weeks — or 10% of the baby’s life — earlier than their peers on the West Coast.  While around 55% of moms in the South, Northeast, and Midwest have given their children solid food by age 18.5 weeks, just 39% of mothers on the Pacific Coast have done the same.

First Words: 40% of children in the South utter their first words by 7 months, compared to only 25% of Mountain state children.

Potty Training: Southern children are potty trained more than a month before kids in any other part of the country, while children in the Mountain states are late bloomers.

While it seems Southern children are early bloomers while those in the Mountain states are a little on the late side, in between, the order shifts quite a bit.  Midwestern children talk early and potty train late, while West Coast kids talk late and potty train early.

The research was gathered from the thousands of U.S. moms who use Circle of Moms’ Child Space to share their children’s milestones with friends and family.  Currently, more than 10% of the children born in the U.S. in the past three years have a Child Space on Circle of Moms, which allows them to pull some significant insight from the data.

What else affects your marketing to mom strategies?  Mark your calendars now to attend the 6th Annual M2Moms®-The Marketing To Moms Conference, October 27 & 28, 2010, at the Chicago Cultural Center.  Visit our website for additional information and to register, www.m2moms.com.

“Historically, the vast majority of marketing thru schools has been targeted at kids,” says John Driscoll, vice president sales & business development for School Family Media Inc., a Showcase Sponsor of the 2009 M2Moms®-The Marketing To Moms Conference.  “But the landscape has changed and the majority of consumers now believe that promotional materials/programs should no longer be aimed at students, but aimed at teachers and parents.”

In fact 81% of moms surveyed by School Family Media support corporate sponsored educational materials/magazines that come thru school and are targeted at parents and 92% support product samples distributed to parents at open house nights, etc.  Working through school PTO/PTAs ensures thru school marketing success.  These groups have the ability to disperse information in a relevant and credible social environment conducive to authentic networking and WOM—outside of the classroom and outside of curriculum time.  How have top brands found success through schools?

The most important thing a brand can do to ensure success is to make sure that whatever thru school program they are doing brings real value to the end user whether it be teachers or students or parents. “Often times brands come to us with what they perceive to be a compelling program or offer and they are missing the most important ingredient. What is in it for the PTO group?” says Driscoll.  School Family Media actually has a litmus test they use for their clients that makes sure there is a very clear and direct benefit to these groups in terms of providing tools or resources that help them connect with and engage parents and families at their school.  “It can be as simple as providing samples of a healthy snack. For example we just did a program with Chiquita where they provided groups with free samples to share with parents/families (along with coupons) at PTO and PTA hosted events (i.e. Family Movie Nights) of their new Chiquita Fruit Bites,” says Driscoll.  “The snacks made the event even better for the groups and Chiquita had the opportunity to provide sampling and coupon distribution into a highly targeted market segment as well as the halo effect and implied endorsement that comes from providing the program through the school environment.”

Another key ingredient to success?  Make sure the program is long term.  “Brands will best be served if they avoid trying to do short term promotions or programs and make more of a long–term year to year commitment where schools and parents come to associate the brand with helping schools and students.”  Driscoll sites such popular programs as General Mills’ “Box Tops for Education” and Target’s “Take Charge of Education”.  In both cases, the brands have made it easy for moms to help their schools through purchasing specific products and/or using a proprietary credit card.  In addition to being highly successful at building brand awareness, the programs have also helped the brands increase market share and revenue.

As experts in helping brands with their thru-school marketing strategies, what is School Family Media’s next exciting project?  “We are in the midst of developing what we are calling our Healthy School Kids Program. In essence it’s a network of PTO and PTA groups at K-8 schools who are interested in providing their parents with information, tools and resources that help them keep their kids healthy and thriving and successful in school.”  School Family Media will be providing health and wellness brands with several unique vehicles including Healthy School Kids Sampling and ‘Thrive’ Healthy School Kids custom publications.

During the start of the school year moms spend a lot of time talking about preparation—preparing kids to do well in school with the right school supplies, preparing meals that can easily be eaten between homework and sports’ practice and even preparing themselves to be more organized for the school year.  But along with all the back-to-school preparation there is also a celebration—a tradition that has been going on in Germany since the early 19th century.

Born in Berlin and raised in Munich, Germany, Vivian Lie couldn’t wait to introduce the cherished German tradition of Schultute to the United States through her product, KinderCone.  “Oftentimes, the first day of school can be a bittersweet moment in a child’s life, but in Germany and Austria it is marked by a day of celebration and appreciation,” says Lie.  “On that day, families present their first grader with their very own Schultüte. Inside, the child finds little gifts, treats, and school supplies. KinderCone wants to inspire every family and their young children to enjoy learning by celebrating this special event in their lives.”

Lie, who attended the 2008 M2Moms®-The Marketing To Moms Conference, recently spoke with Patti Minglin, editor of M2Moms® E-ssentials, regarding the  launch of her new U.S. business and how M2Moms® gave her the confidence to become part of the conversation of moms.

Patti Minglin:  You were born and raised in Germany.  How did you eventually come to call the U.S. home?

Lie: Having dual citizenship (editor’s note: Vivian is the second daughter of a Pan Am pilot of Irish decent and a Tyrolean mother.  Her father eventually returned to live and work in the U.S.), I had the chance to study and live in America, and my fascination and connection to the U.S. made it an easy decision to come and attend college in Detroit. My German background and language fluency opened many doors for me in the automotive industry, first with General Motors as a translator for the legal department, then in advertising for J. Walter Thompson, and lastly as an online editor for an automotive magazine. I was almost on my way to return to Germany when I met my husband Lancelot, a Detroit native with family roots in Indonesia and The Netherlands.  Now, my four daughters are growing up in a multicultural and bi-lingual household; German being the primary language at home.  America with its cultural diversity and entrepreneurial thinking has become my home, even though I miss the sights and sound of Germany, and of course my family and friends in Europe.

My early connection with the American way of life made my daily experiences here less surprising than they would otherwise have been.  But one aspect of American culture that continues to inspire me is the resilience and positive outlook that Americans generally tend to have.  Even though I am starting a business during a serious economic downturn, it is the fighting spirit of small businesses and innovative entrepreneurs that will eventually lead to recovery.  America is still very much a pioneering nation and a place that I’ve come to believe will always offer fertile ground for new and innovative thinking.

Minglin:  What is your personal memory of your own Schultute?

Lie: I still very much remember my first day of school, clutching my very own Schultüte. It was filled with lots of candy, school supplies and a doll and to me, like everyone else around me, it marked that passage from kindergarten to the “real and important life” at school.

Minglin:  And bringing it to the U.S. just made sense?

Lie: It was one of those light bulb moments.  I made and decorated aSchultüte out of cardboard when my daughter Lillian entered first grade.  When I picked her up from school that day, the reaction from other children was so positive and curious that I began thinking about this tradition and what it could potentially become in American life.

Minglin:  What has been your greatest business challenge so far?

Lie: One challenge is explaining the tradition of the Schultute and basically creating a brand new tradition in the United States.  Overall, a woman-owned business faces numerous challenges, and as a mother of four, I imagine my challenges are like those of so many other women who are trying to create a profitable business from a great idea.  I’m constantly multi-tasking my life – running the business as well as the dishwasher, chauffeuring the children in between meetings, and trying to provide a healthy dinner for my family every night.

Minglin:  You attended M2Moms®-The Marketing To Moms Conference in 2008.  How did that conference inspire you with new insight?

Lie: When I attended M2Moms® in 2008, I was still in the stages of R&D for my company.  It was certainly a little intimidating to be in a room full of experienced and seasoned marketers and influencers, as I was one of the very few attendees not affiliated with a medium or large sized company.  I learned so much in those two intense days of presentations and workshops and I perfected my 45 second pitch.  Nothing more difficult than explaining your business in that short amount of time!  What was most valuable was M2Moms® ability to really be right on target on the most pressing marketing issues facing large and small enterprises alike, including issues around social networking, new markets and looking at the customer in a different light.  For my company in particular,  it taught me to use resources such as the web, word of mouth marketing strategy and the confidence to become part of the conversation that made the conference so valuable to me.

Minglin:  What new and exciting things will you be doing with KinderCone?

Lie: KinderCone aims to go nationwide through tradeshow exposure, school fundraising programs and an extended offering of KinderCone-branded products through our online store.  Ultimately, I would want KinderCone to be known as the company that introduced America to the tradition of celebrating the first day of school.  For so many people, education is the foundation for what they are able to achieve in life.  We should take every opportunity to recognize and celebrate the role that our teachers and schools play in the lives and future of our children.

Mark your calendars now to attend the 6th Annual M2Moms-The Marketing To Moms Conference to see who will be the 2010 Full Circle award winner!  Visit our site for more information, www.m2moms.com.

As the clock continues to tick towards what some are calling “the most wonderful time of the year”, the minds of most moms are turning from activities of summer fun to school supplies.  Carolina Pad, a company that specializes in beautiful school, office and arts and craft products, has a line of school gear that is not only beautiful, but also includes an environmental education component that reminds young people about everyday actions they can take to become even better stewards of the environment.

“Carolina Pad developed the Sasquatch® Brand products to give young people a way to express their love of the environment and to educate them about how they can live green,” says April Whitlock, director of brand management.  The collection is not only appealing to school age girls and boys, but to moms as well.  “It’s a great way for moms to continue to emphasize the importance of green living—even when their children are away at school.”

The Sasquatch® product line includes:

  • One-Subject Notebook, Ideal Book, Composition Book, Mini Comp Book, 19-Month Planner, and Personal Book that all have 100 percent recycled covers and interior pages.
  • The sturdy Sasquatch turned-edge binder is made from 100 percent recycled content.
  • The Two-Pocket Folder is made from 80 percent recycled content.
  • The Tab Dividers are made from 60 percent recycled content.
  • The Sasquatch products feature nature-oriented designs in green, brown and khaki earth tones and serve as a great organizational tool for kids juggling homework or projects.
  • The pencil zippered clutches featured in the collection is polyvinyl chloride (PVC)-free.

The covers of the Sasquatch books and planner all feature interactive challenges and games, while the front, inside cover directs users to http://www.find-sasquatch.com to learn more about being green and making tracks of their own.  The site has information about environmental issues, including interactive games, informative tips and blogs as well as links to additional green resources and links to Sasquatch on Twitter and Facebook.

Why Sasquatch?  Legend holds that Sasquatch is a creature that lives deep in the forest, far from where most human dare to go.  He lives off the land, and except for a footprint now and then, leaves little trace of his existence. “Sasquatch provides a fun, kid-oriented example of living a green life by using only what one needs,” says Whitlock.  “Carolina Pad is trying to follow in Sasquatch’s footsteps because we know that forests are one of our greatest treasures.”

“Our biggest challenge is that we are a relatively small company with a very limited consumer marketing budget,” said Whitlock.  “So, we had to get very creative in launching the brand and telling the story. Our focus became the “Find Sasquatch” concept to create an opportunity for interaction with a static consumer good.”  And the move has paid off.  “Everything we have done has resonated well with retail buyers who were hungry for an eco-friendly back-to-school product line, and thrilled to find one with a fun story that made it kid-friendly.”

The Sasquatch line is available at many major mass retailers such as Wal-Mart, Target, Kmart and Staples as well as several regional retail chains.

Long known for its labeling capabilities, Sharpie has become a leader in its category by being creative, fearless and knowledgeable about its key consumers—women.  Sharpie has not only embraced social media as a way to communicate with women, but their new sites and tools have opened up a dialogue with women and allowed them to join in the online conversation that was already happening about their brand.  Sharpie’s PR and Social Media Manager Susan Wassel, who was part of a brand panel during the 2009 M2W®-The Marketing To Women Conference, recently spoke us about the brand’s social networking efforts (please follow @SharpieSusan on Twitter!) and what they have planned next.

Patti Minglin:  How is Sharpie connecting with female consumers?

Susan Wassel: Women, specifically moms, are number one in Sharpie’s book, not only because they are the primary purchaser of the product but because they are the epicenter of the passion and inspiration that drives everything we do – from new products to our advertising to our presence in social media.  Sharpie does a lot of upfront work to understand moms — what they like, what their interests are, their values and attitudes, how they spend their leisure time – all so we can continue to meet their needs and communicate and engage them in ways that support who they are and what they want, need and expect from their favorite permanent marker brand.   Like most marketers, our interaction with them in the past was limited to traditional advertising and promotion.  Social media has changed that, allowing us to open up a dialogue with them and join the conversation already underway online about our brand.

Today we’re meeting, talking, learning and yes, making friends with women through our presence on Twitter http://twitter.com/sharpiesusan, our new community website, www.sharpieuncapped.com where we showcase how fans are using Sharpies in creative ways (many of the ideas created by moms), our blog http://blog.sharpie.com , and our Facebook and YouTube pages (Facebook reporting huge growth with moms and women recently).  In addition, we just launched the Sharpie Squad, a group of 12 Sharpie ambassadors who were already talking about and creating with Sharpies and who we decided to bring “in-house,” so to speak, letting them in early on product news, sharing and garnering their feedback, and letting them decide in their own public forums whether what we’re doing makes sense.

Minglin:  Sharpie has really embraced social media–you are great on Twitter.  How has this social media tool been a key component to your marketing to women strategies?

Wassel: Moms are on Twitter in a big way.  In fact, there’s a whole group dedicated to moms, TwitterMoms (Sharpie is a member).  Twitter is a great marketing tool but what makes it work, in my opinion, is the personal and the personality you bring to it.  There are lots of marketers Twittering but so many seem to miss the point.  I happen to be a woman, a mom (three kids ages 17, 14, and 11), and I also happen to be a huge Sharpie fan, so what I bring to Twitter is real passion for the product and real life talk about how I use it, where I see it out in the world, and all the fantastic ideas I find about what can be done with Sharpie.  But it can’t be all Sharpie all the time.  That’s why I jabber away about my fixation with NPR and Jon & Kate and occasionally Ashton Kutcher or Oprah.  It truly is community and Sharpie has been welcomed into the Twitterverse with open arms.

Minglin:  Is targeting women a new direction for Sharpie?  If so, what made the brand decide to move in this direction?

Wassel: Women and moms have been Sharpie’s primary focus since the brand first launched in 1964.  Back then Sharpie was used almost exclusively as a labeling tool.   And moms, as you can imagine, were doing a lot of labeling – kids’ clothes, lunch boxes, backpacks, school supplies, moving boxes, storage bins, food pantry items – the list is endless!  But Sharpie’s star really started to rise when celebrities began using Sharpies to sign autographs.  As a result, Sharpie markers were showing up on the pages of magazines, newspapers and on TV, seen in the hands of some of the world’s highest paid celebrity spokespeople.  But it wasn’t because we paid these celebrities to endorse our product but because it really was the best tool available for signing autographs.

Today, our consumers have taken us in a whole new direction, showing us that Sharpie isn’t just a labeling tool or a celebrity autograph marker but a conduit for self-expression.  Women are decorating lampshades and designing wrapping paper and Christmas ornaments with Sharpies.  They tie-dye-t-shirts and customize note-cards – two moms even started a company that uses Sharpies so kids with diabetes can customize their insulin pump packs. There’s even a dad who came up with this really creative way to show your kids a little Sharpie love by adding designs to their sandwich baggies.

Minglin: What new and exciting things are happening at Sharpie?

Wassel: I mentioned these earlier but our new community website, http://www.sharpieuncapped.com where we showcase how fans are using Sharpies in creative ways (submit your ideas!), Sharpie on Twitter , our blog, our Facebook and YouTube pages . We also just launched the new stainless steel Sharpie, which is a super chic Sharpie that I personally like showing off in meetings, including school meetings! It has a stainless steel barrel with the Sharpie logo etched on it, and it’s refillable.  We’re also just about to launch the retractable version of the Sharpie Pen.  The Sharpie Pen is great because it doesn’t bleed through paper so you can use it for all your everyday writing needs.

MinglinLove the Sharpie Pen and can’t wait for the retractable version.  Just for fun….what are the top five songs most rotated on your iPod?

Wassel: “That’s Not My Name”, The Ting Tings; “La Vie En Rose”, Edith Piaf; “These Are The Days”, 10,000 Maniacs; “Blister in the Sun”, Violent Femmes and “Banana Pancakes”, Jack Johnson.

Minglin:  Great collection—I’m sure that inspires some creative Sharpie uses!  Thanks for talking with us, Susan.

It’s a world where women can connect with one another—sharing and supporting their feelings about diets, beauty, exercise and body confidence.  It’s a world where women can feel good about what they are eating, not guilty.  It’s a world that stems from—of all places—the snack aisle of your local grocery store.

Frito-Lay, a division of PepsiCo, has taken their marketing-to-women initiatives to an entirely new level by looking at women as individuals—not just a gender.  “We recognized the opportunity to speak to women as themselves, not just gatekeepers to the home,” said past M2W®-The Marketing To Women Conference speaker Becky Frankiewicz, vice president, marketing women’s portfolio for Frito-Lay North America.  “Our intent is to have a conversation with her–not just talk to her.”

This conversation included rolling out one of Frito-Lay’s first-ever portfolio campaigns with the popular product lines of Baked! Lays®, Flat Earth®, SmartFood® and 100 CALORIE® packs.  “We knew we had products she enjoyed, we just needed to let her know these products were for her,” says Frankiewicz.  In addition to focusing on what women didn’t want in their foods (fat and calories), the company also wanted to add what she was looking for (great taste and added nutritional benefits).  From baking spices and dried vegetables into the crisps for Baked! Lays® and Flat Earth®, to offering calcium and fiber in SmartFood® products to putting their most popular brands (think yummy Fritos!) into 100 calorie portions, Frito-Lay has given women a new reason to visit the chip aisle.

The innovation of their product development didn’t stop with taste—it also included a redesign of packaging and even the chip aisle itself.   Product packaging maintained the health benefits, but ramped up the new flavor offerings—and in addition to some products such as SmartFood and 100 Calorie Packs—focusing on portion control and convenience (you can easily throw a single-serving pouch into a purse), the box itself was designed for easy access during pantry storage.  “The success of a marketing-to-women effort has to be in everything you do—even the packaging,” says Frankiewicz.  Even the snack aisle itself was given a fresh new look by giving women a “safety zone” where they automatically know every product featured is just for them.

“It was a challenge for us,” says Frankiewicz.  “We needed this group of products to seemingly fit together and be unified, yet remain individual and distinctive.”  This challenge led the brand to launch the “Only in a Woman’s World” campaign which features four friends—Nikki, Anna, Cheryl and Maya—who humorously experience the real world moments all women can relate to.  “Each character is associated with a specific snack,” says Frankiewicz.  “This allows us to show the different personalities of the brands through the characters that represent them.”  Using a blend of traditional and non-traditional marketing strategies, Frito-Lay launched “the girls” with much success—driving traffic to their virtual home, www.awomansworld.com.

The site itself reflects the importance women place on the counsel of friends and family.  In addition to giving product information, the site allows users to follow the adventures of Nikki, Anna, Cheryl and Maya through comic strips, webisodes, interactive online games and shareable e-cards.  Why cartoons?  Says Frankiewicz, “We wanted to reflect real women, however, during tests with consumers we discovered that using actual women in the campaign distracted from the message.  Women started evaluating themselves in the featured women and didn’t even hear what we were trying to say about the products.”

Frito-Lay also tapped into the popularity of Twitter and You Tube as well as the strength of female bloggers.  Finding 15 influential bloggers for their mission, the brand created the “Fab 15” which were not only brought into a manufacturing plant for a tour of the facilities, but provide an ongoing conversation with the brand regarding what women want.  “We must always evolve and learn—it is the only way we will be able to continue meeting the needs of our female consumers,” says Frankiewicz.

And, so the conversation continues.  Frito-Lay is on a mission to continue looking at women as individuals and seeing how their unmet needs can be found in—and beyond– the snack aisle.

See other innovative ways brands are connecting with today’s women by attending M2W®-The Marketing To Women Conference, www.m2w.biz.

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