P&G Online Sampling Snares 3 Million Leads

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A nine-month Internet sampling effort that ended in April for Procter & Gamble Co.'s Tide Kick stain pre-treating device garnered requests from 3 million households nationwide.


The campaign used promotions, surveys, e-mails, newsletters and page placements on 30 sites, including CoolSavings, Yahoo, Lycos, assorted search engines and P&G's Pampers' database.


The Internet built better Tide Kick penetration than the on-pack program that preceded it. It also raised the number of subscribers to Tide's Tips & Timesavers newsletter from 200,000 to 2 million.


"We wanted to keep getting household penetration up there but we found that with on-packs, you're hitting some of the same people who already have a Tide Kick, so your economics, cost per household, get a lot worse over time," said Bob Gilbreath, assistant brand manager for Tide at P&G.


The Cincinnati giant targeted mothers ages 25 to 39 with household laundry responsibilities. A $1.50 product, Tide Kick doubles up as a measuring cup and stain pre-treater. Liquid detergent is poured in, the stain treated on the garment, and the cup tossed in the wash.


One of the best responses to the online overtures came from CoolSavings, Chicago, which conveys offers and samples from leading consumer brands and retailers on coolsavings.com and through e-mails. CoolSavings claimed to generate nearly 1 million leads in less than six months, or an average of 43,000 a week. In addition, more than 80 percent of the respondents signed up for updates from P&G or its Tide brand.


The CoolSavings media plan incorporated Tide Kick placements in CoolSavings' "Feature" boxes on its grocery and free-stuff tabs as well as CoolSavings Squeals.


Also, a specially branded Tide Kick page on coolsavings.com had product instructions, the survey form and a 50 cents-off coupon for Tide Deep Clean detergent.


Finally, CoolSavings sent 137 million e-mails in 36 e-mail newsletters, including two devoted to Tide Kick. The exercise sought the respondent's name, address and e-mail. In the same form, they had to answer questions on their laundry habits and brand loyalty. Data was submitted with the knowledge that they had agreed to part with that information.


"One of the things that distinguished the P&G-Tide Kick campaign is that it's one of the best-known brands in the United States, and as a result of that the consumer response was very high," said Matthew Moog, president/CEO of CoolSavings.


Divine Inc., Cincinnati, handled the interactive campaign. P&G handled the fulfillment of Tide Kick samples.


Gilbreath said the online sampling helped not just in estimating the cost per acquisition of lead, but also the number of acquisitions. He said that CoolSavings delivered in terms of cost and quality of requesters.


"We're going to keep using them for Internet-related activities, whether it's new product sampling that we want to do again, support the Tide.com site, generate traffic or research," he said.


Of course, it also helps that online sampling eliminates waste. A big challenge for a fast-moving consumer goods manufacturer like P&G is how to get household penetration of a product without too many giveaways to the same consumer.


If Tide Kick were strapped onto every Tide bottle, for example, the same consumer may get the same pre-treating device each time a new detergent container is bought. This means giving away two or three Tide Kicks a year to the same audience each time a new bottle is bought.


"So for us, anything more than one is a total waste of money, and we'd rather put that into getting into new households," Gilbreath said. "So the economics revolved around avoiding that kind of duplicate penetration.


"Also, the economics show that when you're getting asked, it's a lot better. They're more likely to use [Tide Kick], they're going to be more likely to get education about that versus having it on the handle of their bottle."


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