How d-to-c is changing the way brands are built

An interview with Clorox CMO Eric Reynolds

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Credit: Illustration by Ad Age
Clorox CMO Eric Reynolds
Clorox CMO Eric Reynolds

Direct-to-consumer marketers are a rising industry force, but not necessarily at the expense of mass-market traditional consumer brands. At least, that's how Eric Reynolds, Clorox Co. CMO, sees it. Reynolds talks to Ad Age about how Clorox is using d-to-c to collect first-party data and more.

How much value do you get out of Clorox's direct-to-consumer businesses?

Those consumers who shop there fuel our entire digital marketing strategy. We use those kernels of people, especially women who use Renew Life, and we use those behaviors to do the lookalike modeling in our DMP [data management platform] for our programmatic. So every time someone says, "Let's kill that little d-to-c business, it's a lot of work," we know the goal is that first-party data will fuel the entire media operation.

We need more of our marketing mix to act like a d-to-c business. We've recently made a commitment to have 100 million consumers in our database, which scares legal but thrills me. Basically if we can get more first-party data, and get brands using it in a more real-time way, we think it will really complement the brand-building activity with much more intimate activation.

I spent most of my career trying to dump people in the top of the funnel. With this, we can fix the hole in the bottom of the bucket.

If you're doing affiliate marketing, where you're doing an online sale but directing it to an online retailer,
do you get to keep the data?

Yes, depending on how you do it. We're working really hard to make sure when we're pushing people to other e-commerce platforms that we can hold on to that data.

But I think the biggest change is that we see this as a really valuable platform to market as well as to sell stuff. A significant portion of our media budget is now going into Amazon, not just for search but also for display and sponsored content. We're learning how to do media planning off-platform in conjunction with Amazon, for the benefit of everybody.

How important is Amazon as a media buy?

We've learned through our analytics that if we expose people to our brand message on Amazon, it has a positive impact on our business beyond Amazon. It's a viable media platform.

But it's getting very expensive to market on Amazon, largely because of supply. We showed up a long time ago and figured it out, but now everyone is there. So the question is whether it's still a platform where we can have an acceptable return. Without question, it's a great platform for engagement.

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