Kalium: direct approach

An advertising executive who did research into the values held by Saskatchewan consumers says that while environmental benefits of a product are important to them, practical implications are equally so.As a result, Rick Jorgenson, vice-president and general manager of Palmer Jarvis...

An advertising executive who did research into the values held by Saskatchewan consumers says that while environmental benefits of a product are important to them, practical implications are equally so.

As a result, Rick Jorgenson, vice-president and general manager of Palmer Jarvis Saskatchewan, says when the Regina-based ad agency launched a consumer campaign earlier this month for client Kalium Canada, it chose to play up the practical benefits of its water softening product as well as its environment-friendly nature.

Jorgenson, who conducted focus groups for Kalium in Saskatchewan, Ontario and Minnesota, says Saskatchewan consumers were more interested in the practical element of the product because they do not perceive their environment to be as damaged as those who live in the two other areas studied.

‘There’s clean air here, clean water,’ he says. ‘[Environmental pollution] hasn’t really been an issue.’

As well, the campaign for Belle Plain, Sask.-based Kalium’s potassium chloride-based water softener, Nature’s Own, addressed Saskatchewan consumers’ preference for straightforward and direct advertising.

‘I think the Saskatchewan market is more down-to-earth,’ Jorgenson says. ‘It’s far more stable. There’s not a tendency to hit the peaks and valleys of trends.’

Doesn’t work

Consequently, he says the tendency within other markets to go for image-based advertising does not work in Saskatchewan.

So, the campaign, which includes tv, radio, billboard and newspaper advertising, as well as direct mail and in-store displays, stresses soft water’s ability to make clothes cleaner and skin softer, while allowing it saves money by protecting plumbing, preserving clothes and lengthening the life of soap and detergents.

(According to company literature, the ecological claim for Nature’s Own is that it avoids the pitfalls of the commonly used sodium chloride softener, which discharges brine into the environment.)

But Jorgenson is quick to point out that while Saskatchewan consumers want no-nonsense advertising, it should not be assumed the market is in any way less sophisticated than elsewhere.

Jorgenson says that because of the Saskatchewan penchant for self-reliance and independence, the market is ‘just as discriminating in its tastes [as other markets,] and demands to be treated as intelligent.

‘Some [national accounts] have tried to bicycle across and treat all [of] the Prairies the same – like a less sophisticated market,’ he says.

Jorgenson says Nature’s Own is being test marketed in the Regina/Moose Jaw area – a region with hard water and a high proportion of water softening equipment.

However, he says the product will soon be marketed in other regions of the province and beyond, to Ontario and the U.S.