Search marketing case study: Kleenex boosts sales 40% using Google flu data

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How do you use Google to tell when someone will catch a cold? This innovative search marketing campaign from Kleenex used keyword data to pinpoint cities nationally with flu outbreaks in real time, boosting tissue sales 40% with a little help from Doctor Google…

Case study summary

• Increasingly unpredictable weather means seasonal campaigns are harder for a tissue brand to plan for

• Adaptive planning strategy used real time Google searches to pinpoint local areas with flu outbreaks

• As a result, 96% of Kleenex UK’s media spend went to regions of the country suffering a live flu outbreak

• Sales increased 40% year-on-year in the first two months- an extra 432,499 boxes of tissues sold.

The challenge

For the first time in its history, the annual campaign for Kleenex Balsam – a soothing range of tissues/balms – was ruined in 2011. Normally, Britons catch colds and flu from October to February.

That’s when Kleenex launches its campaign. But the UK had the warmest October for 100 years that year. The weather is becoming highly unpredictable. So to save Kleenex’s campaign from future ruin, we developed a unique adaptive planning strategy.

Mindshare’s insight was that years ago, people with colds and flu saw a doctor. Today, they go to Google.

This insight into a fundamental change in consumer behaviour allowed us to use a search engine to pinpoint cities nationally with flu outbreaks, in real time. So we could focus the campaign where it was relevant.

The solution

Using this insight, we analysed search trends on Google over 18 months for words related to colds and flu and compared it to other data. This included calls to Government health lines and doctor visits.

The model allowed the agency to predict relevant flu outbreaks, at city level, in real time.
Not only could Kleenex then focus on cities experiencing an outbreak as it happened but this adaptive planning tool prevented marketing budget being wasted in flu-free zones.
Using tactical channels like radio, mobile, and digital display, the message can get out quickly and catch an outbreak as it is occurring. Every penny invested in the campaign is maximised.

Results

In the 2012 cold and flu season, 96% of Kleenex UK’s media spend went to regions of the country suffering a live flu outbreak.

Total sales increased 40% year-on-year in the first two months. That’s a staggering extra 432,499 boxes of tissues sold.

Kleenex can now catch the colds. The brand can react and respond to cold and flu outbreaks as they happen in the UK – even when winter is delayed – maximizing investment and profits.


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