CASSIES Gold: SpongeTowels absorbs success

John St. turns a product feature into a major long-term benefit for the renamed Kruger Products brand.
SpongeTowel1

GOLD: Packaged Goods Food/Other • GOLD: Sustained Success

Situation Analysis: In the early 2000s ScotTowels was a successful brand, but was living on borrowed time. Kimberly-Clark had bought out Scott Paper in the U.S., and was licensing the ScotTowels name to Kruger in Canada – but only until 2007. As a result, Kruger had renamed ScotTowels as SpongeTowels, and now had the long term challenge of establishing it as a new brand.

Strategy & Insight: When the case began in 2006, P&G’s Bounty was the dominant branded competitor with a 24% share, almost double SpongeTowels at 13%. In branded product tests, Bounty outperformed SpongeTowels on key attributes. Interestingly, though, in blind testing, consumers preferred SpongeTowels. This signaled opportunity.

Execution: Something dramatic was needed, and it came from the quilted “sponge pockets” in the product. These pockets would support a positioning for absorbency. The campaign launched in fall 2006, and has remained largely on television ever since. It brought the Sponge Pockets characters to life – literally – and since then they have been constantly refreshed in multiple “absorbency” situations.

Results: In the four years since launch, SpongeTowels has increased case volume by 45%. This equates to an 18% market share (a five-point increase) and $14 million in incremental sales. Efficacy perceptions are also tremendously improved – and these results have been achieved despite the arrival of Scott paper towels under the Kimberly-Clark banner, a new brand from Cascades, and continued pressure from Bounty.

Cause & Effect: Advertising recall has increased to 81% in spring 2011, up from 62% in fall 2007. Share of voice actually dropped from 35% in 2006 to 21% in 2010. Pricing has been aggressive (given that private label is a major presence) but none of the branded players have been disproportionately active. Similarly, there have been no other factors to account for the growth.

Credits:

Kruger Products L.P. (formerly Scott Paper)
corporate VP marketing: Nancy Marcus; category director, paper towel: Wendy Mommersteeg; marketing manager, paper towel: Humberto Baruzzi; director, marketing research: Alex Amon

John St.
Co-CDs: Angus Tucker and Stephen Jurisic; art directors: Rob Trickey, Stuart Campbell, Kyle Lamb; copywriters: Neil Shapiro, Mia Thomsett, Kurt Mills; director of strategic planning: Emily Bain; senior strategic planner: Sarah Henderson; team leader: Heather Crawley; account director: Ali Reid; account executive: Madison Papple; executive broadcast producer: Michelle Orlando

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