Paint card helped Q-Tips woo families

Health and beauty products manufacturer Chesebrough-Ponds teamed up with Markham, Ont.-based label and sticker maker Labelad/Sandylion to help Q-Tips cotton swabs product differentiate itself from a host of private label products.They did it by offering a creative premium with certain sizes...

Health and beauty products manufacturer Chesebrough-Ponds teamed up with Markham, Ont.-based label and sticker maker Labelad/Sandylion to help Q-Tips cotton swabs product differentiate itself from a host of private label products.

They did it by offering a creative premium with certain sizes of Q-Tips boxes that would motivate consumers with children to choose their product.

Premiums are items given to consumers free to encourage them to buy a product or co-operate with the advertiser in some other way.

Included in every box of 400 swabs was a ‘miniature magic water color paint card.’

Children could use a Q-Tip, dampened in water and then dipped in non-toxic paint blocks, as a brush with which they could paint illustrations found on the cards.

The campaign not only attracted the biggest Q-Tips target market – mothers with small children – it also encouraged the use of the swabs for something other than cleaning ears.

‘I remember seeing something like that years ago,’ says Lionel Waldman, president of Labelad/Sandylion.

‘I always wanted to do it, and, finally, I went to Chesebrough-Ponds, and said, `I have a terrific idea for you,’ ‘ Waldman says.

‘They loved it because the swab acts as a paint brush,’ he says.

Labelad already had suitable graphics for the promotion, and by September 1992, packages of Q-Tips with the watercolor paint book were hitting store shelves.

‘We saved them a ton of money by utilizing our own graphics,’ Waldman says.

A dinosaur watercolor campaign followed in April of 1993, and a trolls promotion was launched six months later.

‘It went very well,’ says Heather Francis, Q-Tips product manager for Chesebrough-Ponds.

‘The trade selling was higher than anticipated, and it was well-received in terms of coming off the shelf,’ Francis says. ‘The stock didn’t stay around very long.’

The Q-Tips brand, which has no national brand competition, uses premiums to differentiate itself from a host of private label products.

‘These [premiums] have to offset the price [difference] from the consumer’s standpoint,’ Francis says.

Francis explains that the campaign worked on two levels.

‘In terms of the consumer, you’re giving them something for free; in terms of the trade, you’re giving them something more valuable to sell,’ she says.

While the paint card did not drive the use of many swabs, the fact that the premium used the product at all was ‘the bonus’ that persuaded Chesebrough-Ponds to go with that campaign, Francis says.

The Q-Tips brand uses premiums once or twice a year, according to Francis, but, generally, only with the biggest selling 400 swabs size.

In the past, the company has used Crayola crayons, stickers, and, deviating from the child-oriented incentive, a travel Q-Tip holder directed at adults.

While the miniature magic water color paint card was obviously a success, Chesebrough-Ponds tries not to repeat premiums so much that the market tires of them.

Francis has simple advice for anyone considering using premiums to sell their products.

‘It seems obvious, but you always have to keep your target market in mind,’ she says.

‘It has to appeal to the consumer or the trade is not going to pick up on it.’