Kimberly-Clark: Breaking the Marketing Mold

Forbes.com

Posted by Brandon Gutman
October 12, 2010

In this Brand Innovator Spotlight, Andrew Meurer, VP of adult, feminine & senior care for Kimberly-Clark, proves how marketers can achieve success by stepping out of their comfort zone.

Brandon Gutman: How did you know female consumers were ready for a change?

Andrew Meurer: In the U by Kotex campaign, we recognized that in order to replace existing marketing methods, we first had to better understand teens’ and young women’s feelings about feminine healthcare and the associated product.  To achieve this, we conducted research that presented astonishing results, including:

  • 70% of women believe that it’s about time society changes how it talks about vaginal health issues; however, less than half (45%) feel empowered to make a difference
  • Most women claim to be knowledgeable about vaginal health issues; however, more than a third cannot dispel some basic myths
  • More than half of women (52%) feel that society looks down upon talking about vaginal health

Research also found that the vast majority of women were embarrassed by their bodies and, more specifically, menstruation.  This presented an opportunity for us to become a champion for women and a torch-bearer for a momentous cultural shift – it was time to remove the shame from being a woman.

We also examined current industry marketing materials.  The findings were laughable—women were being portrayed as joyful, triumphant figures often twirling in a field or doing cartwheels in white pants.  Today’s campaigns were not rooted in reality but rather showcased a dated, misguided approach to marketing, one that promoted euphemisms and bordered on self-loathing.  We made a critical decision— women were ready for a change and K-C would no longer be part of this problem, we would be a part of the solution.

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Author: Leslie Carol Botha

Author, publisher, radio talk show host and internationally recognized expert on women's hormone cycles. Social/political activist on Gardasil the HPV vaccine for adolescent girls. Co-author of "Understanding Your Mood, Mind and Hormone Cycle." Honorary advisory board member for the Foundation for the Study of Cycles and member of the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research.