Make a splash

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In the EVOLVING world of marketing, even the biggest will think small. That's essentially what Procter & Gamble Co. is doing with the national launch now getting under way for Crest Pro-Health mouth rinse.

Besides the traditional support of a national consumer campaign, the new product is trying to reach consumers on a more individual basis-Crest Pro-Health is not just for the consumer who wants fresh breath but, for example, for the diabetic consumer who wants fresh breath.

P&G brands like Pringles, which at this point is printing messages on individual chips, have become adept at customization, but even with Crest, "we're moving from mass marketing to targeted and more customization," says Jocelyn Wong, 30, brand manager-North American oral rinses.

"There is definitely a swing to more targeted marketing, even ending up potentially in true customization," says Ms. Wong, who has college degrees not in marketing, but in chemical engineering and biochemistry from Purdue University. She says that P&G has gotten better at knowing and reaching its consumer. In mouthwashes, for example, P&G's Scope is considered more "experiential"-the whole kissable fresh breath thing-while the new Crest rinse takes a health-oriented approach.

While Crest has touted beauty in recent years, with products such as Whitestrips, Pro-Health is "very health-focused," says Ms. Wong. "So even within just the rinse portfolio we're using the consumer knowledge, and our scale gets very targeted and differentiated between those brands."

Rinses are the second-largest oral segment, Ms. Wong says, and it's "a pretty big deal for Crest to come over. We have completed the whole Crest portfolio. Now Crest plays in every oral-care category."

While a new product requires mass marketing-in this case from Publicis Groupe's Saatchi & Saatchi, New York-targeted efforts are also important. For Crest Pro-Health, that will include "permission marketing" in which samples are offered to patients in endocrinologists' offices because the rinse is alcohol-free, an attribute beneficial to diabetics. Pro-Health made its professional debut to dentists in January.

Another unusual element for the launch of Crest's first mouthwash is a direct-response TV campaign, via Red, Cincinnati. "We recognize the need to educate our consumer" about the rinse, Ms. Wong says, and "that's what our consumer is interested in-more education."

This combination of mass and targeted marketing is a good example of where P&G is going, Ms. Wong says.

"The challenge for marketers in the future," she says, "is how do we balance equity in the core emotional relationship we have with our consumer with the need to customize. They can be very contradictory roles, but they don't have to be."

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