P&G's e-newsletter eyes retail partners

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After downplaying promotion and corporate branding for years, Procter & Gamble Co. is embracing both with expansions of two programs.

P&G is soliciting retailers to join in customized promotion offers via its S-Mag electronic-newsletter program. And it's preparing to roll out later this year an unspecified relationship-marketing component to P&G Brand Saver, a custom-published newspaper coupon insert published up to 10 times a year. Northlich, Cincinnati, handles both programs.

P&G has been building its database of subscribers to the free S-Mag since late 2000 and recently began pitching it as a co-marketing option for retailers. Speaking at the GEMCON electronic-marketing conference earlier this month in Phoenix, Darcy Raymond, senior brand manager for P&G's corporate-marketing unit, said offers included in S-Mag can be customized by retailer and brand and distributed through frequent-shopper programs.

"We will manage programs the way you want," he told retailers. "It might be about value. It might be about service. ... We want you to consider us your agency of record to help realize those goals."

S-Mag's target is broadly defined as time-strapped consumers, with the "S" standing for simplicity. More specifically, S-Mag aims at what P&G terms "golden households"-the 30% of consumers who account for 57% of its brands' sales and tend to have kids, pets and incomes of $45,000 to $100,000.

P&G's tests of S-Mag show click-through rates on offers of 8%-12% and redemption rates of 4%-8%. "It's 10 times more cost-effective than direct mail," said Mr. Raymond, who also said that P&G would add a relationship-marketing component to Brand Saver.

S-Mag and Brand Saver are examples of P&G looking to flex its muscle by marketing across multiple brands, he said.

Peter Leech, managing partner of consulting firm Equilum Group, Chicago, foresees more such programs as companies like P&G, Unilever, Philip Morris Co.'s Kraft Foods and Coca-Cola Co. increasingly assign marketing executives to work more closely with retailers.

"One of the main new channels is retail as a marketing channel," he said. Marketers are "looking to increase category consumption, distinguish their brands, and sell benefits, not only price."

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