Marketing toilet paper and money transfers: The common thread

Posted by Lori Luechtefeld on June 24th, 2014 at 1:09 pm

Marketers spend a lot of time thinking about their products. Maybe they should be spending a little more of that time thinking about the customers who buy those products. Because no matter what you sell -- be it toilet paper or financial services -- there's one key to marketing success: knowing your customer better than anyone else.

That was the key takeaway from the iMedia Commerce Summit presentation by Laston Charriez, SVP of marketing for Western Union. His days with P&G's Charmin brand taught him that even if you give people a case of your brand of toilet paper, it won't necessarily change which brand they buy on their next trip to the store. But if you deepen the relationship -- in this case, that meant gaining a deep understanding of people's worst bathroom experiences -- you can set your brand apart.

It probably won't surprise you that people's most deep-seeded bathroom nightmares revolve around the dreaded event port-a-potty. Charmin embraced those nightmares -- and took its show on the road:

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That's how you turn a $1 billion brand into a $2 billion brand.  So what lessons did Charriez bring with him to Western Union? Simple: Get to know those customers better than anyone.

Western Union knows its customers reside in largely underserved populations. But it knows more than that. It knows that they also tend to over-index for movie-watching -- specifically animated movies. How does a brand connect those dots? Behold: Western Union's integration with "Rio 2":

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The campaign extends beyond video to include mobile display and many other integrations -- including "Rio 2" branded mobile games that are effectively promoted to consumers while on line at Western Union. Results from this recent promotion are still coming in, but all initial benchmarks show that singing animated birds and financial services can make beautiful music together.

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