Procter & Gamble Co. July 24 unveils a new Web site for Bounty that's intended to help build a relationship between the paper towel and its target market: families with young children.
The site reflects package-goods marketers' standard approach to online marketing, which is building brand-specific sites. But that strategy has come under fire recently from industry experts who contend a more effective approach might be aggregating new or existing brands from several marketers under one umbrella site. Such sites could generate more interest and traffic, potentially generating more revenue, experts contend.
"You go to Wal-Mart to buy Crisco, but there is no such thing as the Crisco store," said Ned Elton, former global brand manager for Pringles potato chips at P&G and co-founder and chief marketing officer of Internet start-up N2W Media.
But at the moment, major package-goods marketers are not much interested in throwing in the towel on building sites for brands such as Bounty.
General Mills, Kellogg Co., Kimberly-Clark Corp., Kraft Foods, Quaker Oats Co. and Unilever, for example, all have launched single-brand Web marketing initiatives during the past six months.
But that approach is butting against more recent thinking that package-goods marketers can best leverage the Web as part of online grocers or other sites that carry multiple brands.
MULTIPLE BRANDS IN ONE PLACE
New York-based N2W Media, for example, launches in September in a bid to make the Internet a more efficient vehicle for new-product introductions.
Aimed at smaller manufacturers that don't have the funds to support new-product launches with mass media as well as major consumer-goods companies, N2W Media's model will incorporate a number of brands in one place. The company would not say whether e-commerce is part of its model.
Aggregation--which Mr. Elton defines as multiple brands housed in one place--is a better approach for package-goods marketers online, he said, because single-brand sites can't attract large enough audiences to be cost-efficient.
That thinking mirrors a recent report from Netquity, a joint venture of Forrester Research and Information Resources Inc. Package-goods companies will become investors in online grocers, the report predicted, and reorganize their marketing departments to focus on consumer segments rather than brands and geographies as they do now.
"[About five years ago], there was a notion that the Internet was something that was going to revolutionize marketing and every company had to be on it," Mr. Elton said. "There was sort of a sex appeal of being on the Internet. People spent a lot of money and time doing that and then they realized it wasn't a business-building proposition.
"What's changed is the level of understanding marketers have about how to effectively leverage the Internet. The smart way," he said, "is to use the Internet as a means to reduce complexity and increase efficiency and rip out the costs associated with traditional media" in new-product launches. The Internet is a "vehicle to cut through the clutter so you spend your money marketing to the people who matter and not to those who don't," he added.
Mr. Elton has experienced package-goods brands' failures on the Web. As brand manager on the Canadian Crisco business in '96, he led the initiative to launch a Crisco site. The site's meager traffic hardly justified the costs, so he shut it down in 1998.
Even the Kraft Interactive Kitchen is "never going to generate the traffic to their site to make it a great branded experience," said Robert Rubin, Netquity research director. "But if they put that branded experience in an online grocer site, they . . . help drive traffic (to Kraft's site) and help build loyalty within the online grocer site."
Still, Bounty Marketing Director Tarang Amin stands by his site's viability.
"What we're attempting to do here is not build a site that becomes a destination site for a very broad audience," he said. "The attempt here is to develop a relationship with young families [and create] a place where they can get more information on Bounty."
Designed by JMC&P Touch Interactive, the interactive arm of Bounty's agency of record, Jordan McGrath Case & Partners/Euro RSCG, New York, the site provides parenting information and advice from child psychiatrist Alvin Rosenfeld. The site also features a panel of families providing advice on parenting and suggestions for activities.
"[The Internet] is a perfect medium to develop relationships with young families" and a way to better communicate with them, Mr. Amin said.
TRANSLATING TRUST INTO SALES
Bounty started experimenting with banners and site building about five years ago, he said. Bountyfamily.com, its latest endeavor, sells no products. Mr. Amin said, however, he expects content will build consumers' trust in the brand, which will translate into increased sales in stores.
A TV spot from Jordan McGrath that broke July 3 will be updated with the new site's URL. The spot features footage from a home video sent to TV program "America's Funniest Home Videos." Bounty bought rights to the video to use in its commercial. The tagline is Bounty's staple, "The quilted quicker picker-upper."
P&G spent $53 million on Bounty in 1999, according to Competitive Media Reporting, up 24% from 1998.
In addition, banner ads on sites such as Allrecipes.com, Egreetings Network, iVillage, marthastewart.com and Women.com will include links to the new site. JMC&P Touch created the banners; Media.com is Bounty's online media-buyer.
Bounty also is sponsoring "Real Families, Real Fun," online content developed by Studio One Networks that will be distributed to undisclosed sites beginning July 31. The content will include a link to bountyfamily.com.
49 EMBRACE TRANSORA
Package-goods marketers, meanwhile, are embracing the Web to streamline business operations. The most notable example is Transora, an online marketplace created last month by 49 food, beverage and consumer products companies to streamline everything from purchasing to, potentially, media buying. General Mills, Coca-Cola Co., Kraft Foods and Sara Lee Corp. agreed to fund the new exchange, paying $500,000 to $15 million depending on size, and let employees devote roughly 50% of their time for a nine-week period to developing the for-profit company. Marketing plans have not been finalized.
Last week, Judith Spreiser left her 13-year post at Sara Lee, where she was exec-VP, to become chief executive at Transora.
Meanwhile, General Mills also is angling to be on the forefront of Internet initiatives. Among them an equity stake in Transora plus a partnership in a new online market research company, InsightTools, Minneapolis.
"The Internet is a frame-breaking communication area, and we think the people who use it wisely are going be competitively advantaged," said Steve Demeritt, vice chairman of General Mills. "Because of the potential for the reduction of time and human involvement, if you can do things just with a keystroke electronically, there are immense efficiencies."
Contributing: Jack Neff
Copyright July 2000, Crain Communications Inc.