Awkwardness and shame are what many women feel about discussing their vaginas. As a result, neither media nor consumers will use the word vagina – a huge hurdle to overcome when Kimberly-Clark wanted to introduce U by Kotex*, an innovative, bold new line of feminine care products, and to bring discussion about vaginal health into the 21st century.
So MMC and U by Kotex* commissioned a study of women to find out what they know and how they feel about vaginal health. We discovered millennial women, 14-22, readily accept and promote change, and believe that expressing their true selves is a priority. In fact, many of these millennial women voices are so constant – via their phones or online activity – they say they’re “addicted” and send messages or tweet before they even go to the bathroom in the morning. Our study showed that these same women craved social change: someone to “stop the cycle” of talking about vaginas and menstruation in metaphors.
Leveraging these insights, MMC tore down the wall of euphemisms and empowered these millennials to change the conversation about women's health – in places and with people Millennials trust most – resulting in an astounding 8% market share and a 20% boost in colorful branded conversations that are still going on.
When Kimberly-Clark wanted to launch its new U by Kotex* product line – with sleek black packaging and neon colored wrappers – it wanted to position U by Kotex as the enabler of an enlightened approach to vaginal care v. the usual category speak of clichés that provoke women’s disconnection, embarrassment and even shame associated with vaginas.
This displacing of the traditional hide-it-up-your-sleeve white feminine care wrapper for bold, colorful products provided the opportunity to use unapologetically colorful dialogue and frank messaging that better resounded with the women who use it.
MMC and U by Kotex* engaged Harris Interactive to ask 1,600 U.S. and Canadian women what they know and feel about vaginal health. The majority said they were embarrassed by their bodies and menstruation. Seventy percent said “it’s about time” society changes how it talks about vaginal health issues, but less than half (45%) felt empowered to make that difference. More (60%) respondents turned to the Internet for information about vaginal health vs. their friends (30%) or mothers (40%).
As a result, Kimberly-Clark asked MMC to: a) Introduce U by Kotex* as the brand for millennial women; b) Encourage trial and brand loyalty among young women; and c) Turn buyers into apostles.
Research informed the insight that the target wanted a feminine care brand to stop talking about menstruation in “code” (metaphors, girly language and secrecy) and “just tell me what I need to know.” And since Millennial readily seek help and advice from others and also give it – publicly and privately – we knew they also wanted their own voices to be heard – a critical aspect in developing honest and candid campaign conversations.
MMC’s strategy was to leverage the brand launch to become a vocal change agent about the way women think, feel and act about issues relating to their vaginas, particularly about menstruation. MMC also wanted to position U by Kotex* as an authentic voice and educational resource to drive mindshare and market share by building relevant, enduring emotional connections with young women.
To tell the U by Kotex* story, MMC developed:
• A Reason to Act: We aligned with Girls for a Change (GFC), a national non-profit organization empowering girls to create social change
• Content: Women were invited to join U by Kotex* in creating social change by signing the “Declaration of Real Talk” online. For every woman who signed, $1 went to GFC to create social change trainings
o Nancy Redd (author), Dr. Aliza (Hispanic MD), Dr. Tomi-Ann Roberts (Psychology PhD) and Chelsea Krost (millennial media personality) credentialed the brand, providing meaningful medical and psychological information about health
o Tyra Banks (model, TV host) offered a national conversation platform (as targets’ highest ranked talk show) on The Tyra Banks Show
o Khloé Kardashian (reality TV star) became the brand catalyst to take action
• Media Moments:
o The Tyra Banks Show integration: timed to launch week, MMC developed content with Tyra’s producers and supported the show’s airing with pitches to marketing, advertising and lifestyle media
o NYC event featuring Kardashian – in branded hardhat and pink sledgehammer – breaking down a graffiti-filled wall of feminine care euphemisms – a modern, illustrative metaphor for barriers – and revealing the brand sponsored “Declaration of Real Talk.”
o Information “partnerships” with the 100 most influential online influencers, asking them to deliver clear, unvarnished information to our target
Once that wall was crushed, the flood of conversations could not be stopped:
o Trial: 10 weeks after launch, U by Kotex* captured 8% of the category, leading the overall Kotex brand to a 20+% share for first time in over a decade
o 69 % conversion rate of coupons to samples
o More than 2.2 million website visits, including: 15,442 declaration signatures; 116,603 likes; 23,325 Facebook likes; 1.2 million sample requests and over 600,000 online interactions
o Over 2 million YouTube views; 2,300 product-related tweets
o Over 3,000 online advocates in the first week who generated and distributed content about vaginal care, health
o Over 640 million media impressions, including The New York Times, The Today Show (NBC), TMZ, People.com, OK!, Seventeen, Teen Vogue, Huffington Post, AdAge
o AdAge named U by Kotex* one of America’s Hottest Brands 2010, for product and marketing delivering the greatest impact