Victor Mills, American chemical engineer who worked at Procter & Gamble Co in the 50s, revolutionized the baby market when he invented the disposable nappy. Inspired by his own experiences with his grandchildren, the inventor created the Pampers brand, known for its innovation. It was the first company to replace nappy pins with tape, and then the first to develop extendable ties, absorbent gels and multipacks (1970), but its most famous achievement, Baby Dry, came out in the 90s. (1) Thanks to this new technology, nappies became more absorbent and parents’ lives were transformed.
Let’s take a closer look at this market leader. What is its marketing strategy, its advantage over competitors and its market vision?
Innovation gains consumer trust
With its knack for launching innovative new products on the nappy market, Pampers has established itself as the brand to beat, and is now one of the brands most trusted by mums (Study Millward Brown, TrustR , 2011). (2)
Investing around $2 billion in research each year, P&G bases their Pampers brand strategy totally on innovation and technology. In fact, in March 2013, the Pampers Research and Development centre in Schwalbach, near Frankfurt in Germany was more than happy to open its doors to French journalists and bloggers. (3)
One of the strengths of the Pampers strategy is its strong collaboration with its customers when developing new products, which is a real added value. With a panel of 2,000 parents who test products weekly and give their opinions, Pampers knows exactly what its target market needs.
Enforced since 2009, this innovative strategy helped Pampers market shares to gain 6.5% and also helped to divide its market more clearly, says Caroline Vlaeminck, digital strategy consultant. (4)
Customers have the choice of four types of nappies. The first, Baby Drive, is a mid-range product and provides the largest turnover of all Pampers products. The more upscale product, Active Fit follows, with technological advances implemented in 2010 (its 3-Way Fit system perfectly adapts to children’s shapes). This high quality nappy is perfect for wealthier families. The next product New Baby, targets children and includes a sensor which tells parents when they need to change their baby. Finally, in 2009, in response to its competitors, Pampers launched its « low-cost » nappy to meet the needs of young parents with economic restrictions. (4)
Web content which enhances Pampers’s expertise
Since the brand website was launched in the early 2000s, Pampers’ aim was to justify its expertise and develop a special relationship with parents, especially mums, who are still the priority target of the brand. Throughout pregnancy, mums are looking for as much information as possible.« Its interactive nature is one of the site’s strong points, » says Florence Boittin, responsible for Pampers marketing relations in 2004, « as well as the site’s personal touch. »
The mood is set on the site’s home page; the space is divided into two main sections, « topics » and « products. » These encompass the main priorities for young parents; information and purchasing new quality products. Pampers do not stop there, the brand centres its entire site completely on its expertise. When the user clicks on the « topics » tab, a menu appears listing various questions. With over ten subjects, only one concerns Pampers products. The brand has made it their priority to become a key ally for mums looking for information and digital resources to support them in their new lives.
Digital resources which customise the customer experience
What makes Pampers’ marketing strategy stand out is its investment in making its website personal. On first visit to the site, the mother is asked her child’s age and then the site content is adjusted (website and newsletters). What’s more, the site has a conversational feel to it. With « Pampers Village » (loyalty program), the brand offers its clients three additional services: access to promotions, newsletters tailored to their needs depending on the children’s age, and also the opportunity to talk to experts.
The nappy brand belonging to the P&G group has succeeded in making its website more than just a brand site, it is a place for parents to discuss and share. (5) The same is true of the brand’s social networking sites, where posts are based on a wide variety of topics. « On our Facebook page, aside from the brand, we talk about everything to do with parenting, » says Julien Wintenberger, responsible for Procter & Gamble social networking in France. ( 6 )
Brand content is an effective brand communication tool
Further evidence of Pampers’s dedication to its customers comes from the Baby Boombrand content project, launched in 2011. In partnership with TFI, its objective was to film a mini series of interviews with young parents about their experience. With this cross media strategy, Pampers honoured its consumers by making them the stars of the brand. « The goal was to strengthen the emotional bond that mothers have with the brand, but also to strengthen and confirm Pampers’s reputation as a baby development expert. This complements and supports consumers’ purchases » says Isabelle Dresco, marketing communication manager of P&G France. Specifically designed for the web, the exclusive content in these weekly clips gave a lot of information and advice on baby development, through the story of four families. By equally including dads in these films, Pampers managed to give information on the evolution of parental roles and the fight for equality between men and women.
Once again, innovation and expertise were at the heart of the brand’s project and were rewarded with the “Grand Prix du Brand Content 2012” in France as well as with more than one million video views on Youtube. “In a highly competitive market, P&G has always focused on double innovation; marketing and product communication, » says Isabelle Dresco, adding « brands always need to be a step ahead! In the United States, P&G is now a leader in brand content production, which involves creative formats, combining intelligent and entertaining content and brand messages. Brand content brings the brand mission to life. » ( 7 )
Confirming the brand’s reputation for its dedication to consumers (parents and children), the new Pampers campaign, « Love, sleep and play, » emphasises the expertise and the closeness that Pampers aims to give its parents (July 2013). To make these qualities an integral part of its brand image, the nappy brand decided to re-use amateur videos posted on Youtube by parents featuring their babies. (8) As simple as the idea may seem, this ad, which was shown on television and on the web, summarises P&G’s goal to meet parents’ expectations and to demonstrate its expertise in children’s well-being.
To find out more, we conducted a short interview with Julien Wintenberger, Head of Communication at Pampers, France
Womenology: What are the current trends in consumerism amongst mums?
Mums, and parents in general, are more than ever looking for products which meet both their needs and those of their babies. This is evident on the nappy market through research into the best absorption, comfort and skin protection for the baby. This is why Pampers, who is celebrating its 35 years on the French market, is constantly working towards proposing a large choice of high quality products (nappies and baby wipes) and meeting these needs. In terms of marketing channels, one of the biggest consumer trends, particularly evident on the baby change market, is the growth in e-commerce and online delivery shopping.
Womenology: Do mums and dads have different expectations concerning the nappies they buy for their children?
At Pampers, our mission is to take care of the happy and healthy development of all babies. We spend a lot of time listening to parents, mothers and fathers, especially in our research and development centre (Germany). Every week, around 1800 mums come with their babies to test our products and talk to over 200 researchers. Parents’ expectations are intimate and concern absorption, comfort and protecting the baby’s skin.
Womenology: When coming up with new products, does Pampers take into account “gender marketing?”
Our products are conceived and developed to meet the needs of both little girls and little boys equally. This notion does come into play regarding the design of the absorbent layer, the choice of pictures on the nappy (for example Dora the Explorer and Diego). In our communication strategy, we do address mums first and foremost because it is still primarily mums who buy nappies, but we don’t forget about dads. We regularly ask our Facebook fans (over 200,000 to date) about the role of the father in the baby’s everyday life. There are also many dads at the heart of our blog community in the Pampers program. We’ve managed to develop workshops for dads through public events such as “le Stade des bébés” (the baby stage). Finally, the role of dads was highlighted in “Coté Papa, côté Maman” (Dad’s side, mum’s side), which followed up the TF1 Baby Boom program in 2012.
Womenology: Does Pampers adapt its advertising campaigns according to the sex of the target audience? If yes why? If not why?
Our aim is to always keep the baby at the heart of our communication strategy, rather than the parents. Our advertising campaigns (TV ads for example), are therefore not influenced by mums or dads, but by what we offer their baby. Our new campaign and tagline, “Love, Sleep Play,” fits into this approach. At Pampers, we believe that everything a baby needs in order to grow and develop healthily, is love sleep and play. That is what we hope to bring to the heart of our communication, rather than parents.
Womenology: What media does Pampers choose to appeal to mums? Is media planning different when aimed at a male target audience?
It is Pampers’s job to be everywhere our consumers are. Pampers can therefore be seen on television, in the press, digitally, via specialist programs (on line or in magazines) and also on social networks. The role of Pampers is to support parents by providing them, on a daily basis, not just with quality products, but with advice and ways to communicate with other parents. Finally, Pampers is present on maternity wards, in hospitals, crèches and more generally through healthcare professionals (pediatricians for example).Histoire de Pampers, (2) http://www.pg.com (3) http://www.strategies.fr/ (4) http://digitaletnumerique.wordpress.com/ (5) http://www.strategies.fr/etudes-tendances/ (6) http://business.lesechos.fr/directions-generales/ (7) http://www.pg.com/fr_FR/news-views/ (8) http://www.strategies.fr/actualites/marques/ Leave a comment