New Liquid-Plumr Build-Up Remover was the result of "a very holistic approach" to both the homeowners' problems and Clorox's new-product development, says Ms. Stern, the former Liquid-Plumr brand manager promoted to brand manager for laundry new products last November.
When Ms. Stern started on the business in August 1992, Clorox was looking to extend Liquid-Plumr's brand equity. The $285 million category had been dripping along at a 1% to 3% growth rate.
About that time, Clorox noticed some regional products using naturally occurring micro-organisms as drain-pipe buildup-prevention agents. Clorox decided to come up with a national entry.
The challenge was to get consumers "to embrace the notion that they needed to use a product to clean drains on a regular basis," says Ms. Stern, a Harvard M.B.A.
For its introduction in August 1993, an $8 million advertising campaign from DDB Needham Worldwide, Chicago, showed a plumber explaining the Clorox solution for keeping drains flowing smoothly. ( Young & Rubicam, San Francisco, now handles the account.)
Ms. Stern helped develop a business plan and strategy that brought the product from concept to national expansion in less than a year.
Minimarket trials were kept in place for only a few months, instead of years as is the norm. "As soon as we got initial results, we moved ahead," she says.
Now other Clorox brands are using the Liquid-Plumr Build-Up Remover launch as a model.
"That timing is no longer unusual," she says.