The Clorox Company manufactures products that help customers maintain a tidy home. So, it should be no surprise that the company known for its Disinfecting Wipes and Regular Bleach would want to create a spotless back-to-school shopping experience for its customers.
Stacy Stokes, associate director of marketing for Clorox Disinfecting Wipes, knows that back-to-school season is a busy time for marketers. It’s a period when Clorox experiences an increase in in-store foot traffic, as well as a change in sales. However, she also knows that back-to-school season is a hectic and usually costly time for parents. So, she and her team try to put themselves in the customers’ shoes and make it easy for shoppers to check items off of their lists by making information about Clorox’s products available via multiple channels.
“We want to make sure that we’re there for all customers,” Stokes says, acknowledging that customers shop differently based on factors like family size or where they live.
This back-to-school season Clorox is primarily leveraging channels that have a broad reach, such as TV, social media, Web, packaging, and print. The company is also making it easier for parents to donate back-to-school supplies through its partnership with DonorsChoose.org—an online nonprofit that enables teachers to request specific school supplies and have donors fund them.
“[Back-to-school] can be a hectic time,” Stokes says. “It can also be an expensive time if you’re a family in need.”
Along with its fellow Clorox-owned brands Glad and Hidden Valley, Clorox is making it possible for shoppers to earn rewards for their purchases through its receipt validation program. After customers purchase an item from any of these three brands, they can take a picture of their receipt via their smartphone and upload it to the company’s landing page CloroxForSchools.com. Here, they can find a range of back-to-school content, including shopping lists, lesson plans on how to prevent the spread of germs, and printable Clean Club badges for kids who demonstrate healthy best practices. Visitors can also sign up for the company’s newsletter or access coupons and offers. For every $5 that shoppers spend on participating products, they earn $1 in rewards, which they can then donate to DonorsChoose.org or redeem for themselves via Paypal.
“It’s as easy as one, two, three,” Stokes says.
In addition to this initiative Clorox hosted pop-up shops in Chicago and Philadelphia where it gave away school supplies and products from all three brands for free. Furthermore, Clorox made a $100,000 donation to DonorsChoose.org.
To promote the DonorsChoose.org partnership specifically, Clorox targeted parents and consumers on social media. It also leveraged influencers, such as parent bloggers.
“Consumers trust and love to hear from us,” Stokes says. “[But] sometimes, it’s more impactful to hear from other folks out there.”
At the time of the mid August interview, Stokes said that Clorox had seen “a lot of shipments going out the door.”
“We feel really excited about the plan that we put together,” she says.
And while this year’s back-to-school season is coming to a close, here are four pieces of advice from Stokes on how to have a grade-A season next year.
1. Start planning early. Stokes says that she and her team start planning Clorox’s back-to-school season as soon as the last season ends—or at least six months in advance. This gives the marketers plenty of time to analyze learnings from the most recent season , she says, and connect with retailers who might be a getting an early start on next year’s planning.
“It takes an army,” she notes.
2. Consider the best ways to maximize scale. Stokes knows that Clorox isn’t the only brand vying for parents’ and teachers’ attention before the school year starts. So, she tries to catch their interest wherever she can by leveraging a 360-degree approach. Sometimes, this involves partnering with other brands within Clorox’s portfolio to expand its reach, as it did with Glad and Hidden Valley.
3. Be “consumer-minded.” When it comes to creating a back-to-school marketing strategy, marketers need to consider what the shopping experience will be like from the consumer’s perspective. Stokes says this includes identifying what consumers care about and how marketers can provide solutions to easily offer them this value.
“Always think about the consumer,” she notes. “That always comes first.”
4. Listen to the shopper. One of the best ways to identify what consumers care about is to engage them and listen to their feedback. For instance, Stokes says that Clorox does focus groups and tests its ad creative and products among consumers to see what truly resonates—instead of just betting on what the brand’s marketers think will resonate. She also says that this can help marketers pinpoint when they’re using language consumers might not understand.
As she puts it, “It’s our job to make sure that we’re listening and we’re adjusting our products and our messaging to meet those needs.”