Out of the Mainstream
By David Gill
New messages and new media have become part of the marketing menu for the floor-care industry.
This year, two of the industry's biggest brands, Bissell and Hoover, have expanded their marketing efforts to include social media, cause marketing, direct-response television (DRTV) and other non-traditional methods.
In April, Hoover launched a comprehensive marketing campaign that integrates social networks, cause efforts, DRTV and national television advertising. The social-media component includes platforms on both Facebook and Twitter.
The cause element is a partnership between Hoover and Cleaning For A Reason, the organization that provides home-cleaning services to women undergoing cancer treatment.
Brian Kirkendall, Hoover's vice president of marketing, said, "I'm a big believer in integrated campaigns. You can't just do TV. We've found Facebook a great way to communicate with the consumer. They tell us what we do right and what we do wrong, and how we can fix it."
The logic behind a campaign of this sort lies in the need for brand consistency, Kirkendall said. "People don't want Hoover all of a sudden to be different," he said. "They want Hoover to be the same brand they have trusted over the years, and based on that trust they go to Facebook expecting to find Hoover. When I started here (in 2009), we weren't on Facebook at all. We started this campaign because we need to be where the consumer is right now."
Hoover's effort logged positive results in the first six months of the campaign. "We've picked up a test with one major mass retailer and have added store counts with other major retailers," Kirkendall said. "One of our current customers picked up the Cleaning For A Reason part and placed it in their national circular, and has done some stuff with it on their Web site."
Bissell's marketing now includes direct-response TV and cause marketing. In the latter element, the company has involved itself in particular with causes related to pets, along with supplying Ronald McDonald House with cleaning products.
Among other examples of the cause components is Bissell's Most Valuable Pet Contest, which had its third run this year. Bissell is also present at events involving pet adoption, pet shelters and humane societies, and has taken a part in lostpetsusa.com, a Web site dedicated to helping owners find their lost pets.
Jim Krzeminski, Bissell's executive vice president of sales and marketing, said alternative marketing media have become necessary with the fracturing of media as a whole. "The big advertising dollars still go to TV, but you see more alternative media in the mix," Krzeminski said. "We have to stay out there with a constant stream of news about our products in the digital space and with non-traditional media."
In yet another type of alternative marketing, a company called House Party engages consumers through parties in their homes at which products in all categories can be tried out, with parties concentrating on one product taking place across the nation on the same day.
Recently, House Party held a series of parties centering on the Rubbermaid Reveal Spray Mop, partnering with the brand's marketing team. Leigh Boone, brand manager-cleaning for Rubbermaid, said the parties "met our objectives of driving consumer awareness, trial and purchase intent." A spokeswoman for House Party said the company is now discussing the possibility of creating a similar event with a vacuum brand.
The growth of alternative marketing means will continue because of consumers' needs for one-to-one communication, Kirkendall said. "There is a lot of other group stuff we could be doing," he said. "Whether it's supporting Web chats, doing different blog groups, it all comes down to how we can give you information about our products."
Alternative marketing is also necessary because "mass media as we know it is on an accelerated path toward significant change," Krzeminski said. "We still believe in traditional media, but now digital media is shifting at a dramatic pace toward becoming the new mass media. And however we do it, this industry has to be out front with news about products."