Purell Among Few Small CPG Brands to Invest in Loyalty Program

Brand Aims to Spread Hand Hygiene Message Via Social Channels

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Loyalty programs are commonplace among travel brands and retailers, but not so much when it comes to consumer packaged goods, especially not for small businesses. But Purell is bucking that trend. The hand sanitizer brand launched its loyalty program about a month ago, giving a new meaning to data hygiene.

Owned by soap and lotion maker Gojo, Purell aims to supplement the limited amount of information it has about its consumers through the new Be Well Network loyalty program, accessible on its site and on mobile devices via Facebook. The company works with PunchTab as a tech partner on the program.

Until now, the Akron, Ohio firm, like many product manufacturers, has relied on IRI consumer purchasing data along with its own in-home ethnographic and attitudinal studies to get a glimpse of who buys Purell, where and why.

"One data set alone typically doesn't give you all the answers," said Kathleen Leigh, marketing director for Purell Consumer, ecommerce, shopper marketing. "IRI scanner data tells what they buy [and how often, but] we haven't gotten to the frontier yet of why they purchase."

Ms. Leigh and her small brand team -- a total of four people including her -- hope to better understand the demographics of people buying its hand-cleaning products, how often they use and purchase them. They also want to use the data to understand which product attributes appeal to them to inform product development.

"It would be interesting to know for people who are loyal gel users what they would think about us getting into other hygiene products," said Ms. Leigh.

The company doesn't have a CRM program, but this should help build one. In the first three weeks after the Be Well launch, thousands of people joined, hitting 75% of the company's goal for the year, according to Ms. Leigh. The company has relied purely on "organic promotion," she said.

Before the data is employed for product development, though, a primary goal is to educate consumers about hand hygeine. The company asks program participants to respond to a survey and offers redeemable prize points in exchange for doing things like posting to social media sites about Purell.

"Did you know that 80% of sickness-causing germs are transmitted by hand? Time to stock up on #purell," states a suggested tweet, which earns 100 points if posted through the system. Two-thousand points garners a $2 discount on the product, and 10,000 points scores a gift card.

The social focus is intended to propel the message throughout loyalty members' networks, said Sean Claessen, VP creative and strategy at Bond Brand Loyalty. "There's a greater reach out of that one interaction," he said. "They seem to be actively trying to convey that it's not points for purchase." Bond does not work with Purell.

Bond's fourth-annual study of more than 6,000 consumers released in June showed that loyalty programs associated with brands spur three times the amount of "program satisfaction" among consumers. And that also creates increased likelihood to recommend the brand.

It's still rare for CPG brands to invest in loyalty efforts, said Mr. Claessen. "This is sort of an interesting shot over the bow to some of those larger CPG companies."

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