CINCINNATI -- Online coupons and samples are enabling the Procter & Gamble Co. to build on its consumer-specific marketing efforts.
"We've been able to learn some good information from consumers, which has helped us better target certain offers to them," Monica Collins, P&G spokeswoman, told Brand Marketing.
Online promotions are an integral part of two of P&G's big online multibrand endeavors, Home Made Simple and "S" Magazine. Both are being marketed to consumers in the form of e-mail newsletters that include content, coupons and samples.
Last month's Home Made Simple newsletter, for instance, offered decorative painting techniques, packaged lunch ideas and gardening suggestions. It also included a 50-cent coupon for Mr. Clean Wipe-Ups.
Found at homemadesimple.com, Home Made Simple is designed to "simplify, organize, beautify and inspire." It focuses on P&G's home-care brands, including Cascade, Dawn and Mr. Clean.
The purpose of "S" Magazine, found at s-mag.com, is to "simplify everyday living." Its brand slogan is "We're the S in Simplicity." Featured brands rotate on a monthly basis and cut across multiple P&G business units. In an innovative move, P&G is also using "S" Magazine to highlight external brands. For instance, this month's issue was to feature Rosie and Spiegel magazines, as well as Iams pet food. Other issues, meanwhile, have offered discounts for Betty Crocker and Eddie Bauer.
P&G has aggressive plans for the magazine, saying it wants to more than double the magazine's current 3 million subscriber list by the end of the year, according to Darcy Raymond, brand manager, global interactive marketing, P&G.
P&G is backing the program so strongly due to the many benefits of online sampling and couponing, which Raymond says can drive purchase intent, get people to sample a product, spread word-of-mouth support and, ultimately, boost sales.
"It's one of the most effective ways of assuring any kind of repeat behavior," Raymond said.
While homemadesimple.com has been operating for nearly one year, P&G recently strengthened its couponing and sampling features by partnering with FreeSamples.com, San Francisco, an online targeted marketing solution. FreeSamples takes the sampling orders, fulfills them and provides P&G with information on the consumer who requested them.
"S" Magazine is a data-collection tool as well; only the sampling engine is powered by P&G itself, not by a third party like FreeSamples. Consumers who opt-in to receive a sample, coupon or discount are asked a series of questions. For instance, visitors recently were offered a sample of an Olay Total Effect Cleansing Cloth. To get the sample, they were asked about their household income, number of pets and children in household, and facial cleanser use and brand preference, among other areas.
P&G uses the responses to tailor future copies of "S" to each consumer's needs.
"We learn as much as we can about them so that we can get as targeted as possible," Raymond said.
Along with its multibrand sites, P&G also uses samples and coupons at several of its brand-specific sites, including Tide.com. Under a new promotion launched in conjunction with FreeSamples, consumers can register to receive a free sample of Tide Kick, a pretreating and measuring device designed to be used in conjunction with Tide Deep Clean formula. Along with the sample, consumers receive a 50-cent coupon for Tide Deep Clean.
P&G decided to work with FreeSamples to tap into the company's large consumer database.
"We felt we could benefit from FreeSamples' broad base of consumers and ability to target consumers," said Collins.
Steve Olinger, vice president of sales at Freesamples, noted that P&G is taking an active role in target marketing via the Web.
"For certain brands and categories, P&G truly understands the value of consumer-specific marketing," Olinger said.