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Kimberly-Clark marketer on spending half of media budget on digital

Founded in 1872, Kimberly-Clark has cemented its reputation as one of the largest FMCG companies worldwide. But like all other legacy brands, it still has to continuously learn new ways of going to market, especially in the context of the evolving digital world. In an interview with Marketing, Nitish Gupta, newly appointed Asia Pacific sector leader for adult and feminine care who is now based in Singapore, said digital is a core part of its marketing plans and activations, and its digital spend has “more than tripled” over the last two years. Gupta added:

As an overall mix as well, more than half of our media budget gets allocated to the digital channel and is growing.

With Asia Pacific and Malaysian consumers growing up in an environment that is digitalised, brands will now need to turn to technology to help with their marketing. The use of technology, according to Gupta, enables companies to deliver an integrated and curated experience for consumers.

For example, Gupta explained that when a family is expecting a baby, it is imperative for Huggies to not only identify those families, but also partner with them in the parenthood journey. “This is where technology comes to aid. As we leverage the single view of the customer, machine learning and AI, we will be able to deliver genuine value to consumers at the right time and place.

Meanwhile, in this digital age, eCommerce has become an increasingly important channel and contributor to sales, growing at a “strong pace” and much faster than offline retail, Gupta said. This is driven by the inherent convenience and value that the channel is offering to Malaysian consumers.

He added that in order for Kimberly-Clark’s products to remain top of mind for online shoppers, it needs to partner with retailers and ensure that its eCommerce executions are driving the brand. “Whether it is designing the e-store or participating in e-retailer campaigns or designing our pack-promo mix to meet online shopper needs – we need to ensure that the channel gets its due,” he explained.

He added that it is important for the team to constantly ensure that its brands such as Kleenex and Kotex are talking to consumers in the language and format in which they like to consume content. At the same time, it is also crucial for Kimberly-Clark to remain rooted in consumer fundamentals which Gupta explained are insight mining, creating winning concepts and taking them to market.

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Targeting competitor’s consumers

Consumers are highly likely to stick to certain brands once they have gotten used to them and the same can be said about personal care products. Even so, Gupta remains undaunted by his competitor’s tactics to retain their loyal base, explaining that it ultimately depends on who the target consumer is and how well a brand can cater to them and know their consumers’ habits.

For example, if Kimberly-Clark aims to convert other sanitary pad users to Kotex, an obvious touch-point would be at the point of purchase in stores where disruptive displays can be set up or brand promoters can be present to engage shoppers and convert them by addressing the products’ point of differences.

Outside the store, Gupta explained that brands can target users at places they frequent. Kotex, in this instance, can target young females in universities or at music concerts. Gupta said:

The digital world gives us immense capability to identify consumers via their habits and preferences and reach them with our brand message.

Despite the cluttered personal care industry, Kimberly-Clark has still managed to make its brands such as Kleenex, Kotex and Huggies stand out through promise and product innovation. During Hari Raya this year, it launched the Kleenex Charger Box in an attempt to bring the brand promise to life. This is in addition to its past innovations such as Kleenex Aromatherapy or Kleenex with Eucalyptus which were designed to add positivity to the consumption occasion.

“Kleenex facial tissue, beyond performing the functional task of cleaning, also wants to uplift the moment and add positivity to that moment,” Gupta said. He explained that the Kleenex Charger Box wants to go beyond making tissue available to consumers when they need it, but also give them an innovative solution to charge their mobile devices when they are running low on battery power.

“The response to this innovation has been mind-blowing – it has created a ripple in social media with hundreds of consumers telling us stories about why and where this tissue box can help them,” Gupta said.

Meanwhile for Kotex, it focuses on both health and protection, while Gupta said its Huggies brand constantly strives to be the fastest absorbing diaper. This came from the fundamental product insight that the speed of absorption is important in keeping a baby dry and comfortable.

(Read also: Kotex unveils first 4 recipients of #SHECAN Fund)

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