Thursday, September 20, 2012

How market research is more than just hiney hygiene!


I can’t think of any classy way to say this, so I’ll just say it straight out. When you think of toilet paper you think of - - well -- hineys, bums, tushies, a caboose, keister, arse…. the list goes on. OK I admit it; I actually looked up slang words for buttocks!

But I digress. Procter & Gamble is the undisputed leader in the U.S. toilet paper market. Charmin toilet paper has been around for 70 years, so clearly it has wiped the cheeks of everyone from Harry S. Truman to Lady Gaga. They probably know everything there is to know about butts! Maybe there’s piped music blaring through their offices by Sir Mix-a-lot. "I like big butts, and I cannot lie!" Alright, maybe not, but how great would that be!


OK, so they’re sitting around on their butts one day at the office and a marketing guru says something like, “I want Charmin toilet paper to wipe the bum of every man, woman and child in Germany!” Everyone cheers with excitement and agrees. There was just one problem, who knew if German butts were different than American butts! Everyone acknowledged that European consumers have different needs and wants than their U.S. counterparts, so Procter & Gamble conducted massive market research with hundreds of potential customers in Germany.

Turns out it’s not just about the bum! German and American butts are not different at all, but Germans use toilet paper differently than we do. Through focus groups, surveys and observational studies (I'd like to meet whoever was in charge of those), they determined that Germans actually have different usage habits. Unlike Americans, lo and behold, 60 % of Germans use toilet paper to wipe their noses. They also learned that 8% use TP to remove make up, 3% to clean children’s faces and hands, and 7% to clean mirrors.

With further market research, Procter & Gamble learned that the optimal tissue color in Germany should be blue or yellow and that the package needed to be cubic. They also did market research on their cute cuddly little bear logo. Advertising tests showed that the Charmin bear worked very well, giving their toilet paper an emotional and lovable appeal.

The launch of Charmin toilet paper in Germany was a huge success. What made it even better was that the toilet paper market in Germany was already completely saturated.

So the real hero in this story is great market research. In order to gain useful consumer data that allowed Procter & Gamble to make Charmin just right for German consumers, and position it correctly in the market, they had to have a well thought out market research plan. With that kind of intelligence Procter & Gamble was able to grab a brand new market with great success.

So, don’t get caught with your pants down… unclog your company’s potential by using great market research!

Learn about our company and the services and products we offer: http://www.marketresearch.com

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