Ah Choo

3 10 2010

Product sampling can be an enormously expensive endeavor for a consumer products company. In most instances, it is a highly impersonal shotgun effort to deliver small trial packages to consumers, many of whom may have no real interest in the product to begin with. At best, this product trial will motivate the consumer to run to the store to purchase more. At worst, the sample gets put in a cabinet. Or tossed.

But what if a company could somehow involve consumers in the distribution of those samples? What if they could leverage the web to make this all happen? What if the whole experience is set up to be just like how we “share” items of interest on social media? And what if we could do it at the beginning of cold and flu season, when allergies are still on a rampage?

Well, pass the Kleenex and start to sing their praises. Their Softness Worth Sharing program is a stroke of sheer genius.

Rather than carpet bombing the country with Kleenex samples, the company has made it possible for us to personally direct a package to a friend’s mailbox. As of this morning, over 120,000 packages have been sent by consumers. And in the process, Kleenex obtains some very relevant information about its users…information that could prove very useful in he future.

Adding to the whole tissue-sharing experience is the ability for senders to track their gift. You can also enter any city or ZIP Code to determine how many packs have been shared locally (there have been 25 packs shared from Amarillo).

Now think about how tissues are often shared in the first place. They are given as an act of sincerity in response to a sneeze or a tear. That little flimsy piece of paper can be a real lifesaver.

For Kleenex to turn an otherwise mundane marketing activity into one involving consumers will likely spell far more sales than a package mysteriously appearing in a mailbox. Tissues are certainly not a new product category, so it is unlikely that anyone has not used a few thousand before today. But to put the brand name in that many pockets and purses, wrapped with the good intentions of a friend, is just a good use of promotional dollars. You see, it’s no longer Kleenex spamming people with marketing. No, it’s all about friends sharing. It is a viral idea for the virus season.

And since I am taking the family to an allergen-infested crop maze tonight, I just wish that one of my friends would think ahead and have a pack sent to me at the farm. Because I’m probably going to need it.

Dr “I Can Already Feel The Sneezing Coming On” Gerlich

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