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Adapting to new market landscape key for Kimberley-Clark

Categories: Environment & Bio-diversity, Social & Community
Helping to develop a sustainable solution

Changing consumer patterns, fuelled by fragmented media, greater product choice and lifestyle changes, combined with environmental and social changes are keeping marketers on their toes. Companies that can adapt to this new landscape the fastest will be the ones that win.  

That’s the word from Mitch Faigan, president of Citizen Brand and Kimberly-Clark consultant, who was in South Africa recently to attend the 2010 Brands and Branding for Good Conference. Faigan says Kimberly-Clark has been around for more than 130 years and recognises the need to adapt.


“We want to ensure our brands deliver against these new demands in a meaningful way. We have developed business and marketing processes that incorporate a new way of approaching integrated marketing planning, but also sustainability charters that ensure we are responsible contributors to the social societies and environments in which we operate,” says Faigan.


He cites the Huggies® Every Little Bottom campaign as one example of how Kimberly-Clark is putting these processes and charters into practice. “Huggies Every Little Bottom was launched in June 2010 with a single mission – to help get diapers to babies in need. As a first step, Huggies has committed to donating up to 20 million diapers in the United States over an eight-month period. This was kicked off with the donation of two million diapers to ten local diaper banks across the country,” says Faigan.


In addition, these diaper banks are working with Huggies to help develop a sustainable solution to diaper need. This solution will include building awareness of diaper need, making additional diaper donations, and forging national and local partnerships that will provide the community-based support needed.


The program evolved as the direct result of a study conducted amongst mothers in the United States, which revealed that one in three American mothers struggle to provide diapers for their babies. These mothers have had to cut back on basics such as food, utilities like heat or electricity, or even child care in order to provide enough diapers.


According to lead researcher on the study and professor at New York University , Dr Cybele Raver, the issue of ‘diaper need’ – mothers struggling to provide diapers for their babies – is serious and has been largely unrecognised until now. “This study helped us understand the true scope that this type of material hardship may have, both physically and emotionally, for babies and mothers. Diapering is an important ritual that offers parents and babies valuable time to create a warm and positive emotional connection. Many mothers feel distressed when they are faced with situations where they don’t have enough diapers for routine changes. It is clear from this study that not having enough diapers makes the job of parenting more difficult,” he says.


While Every Little Bottom has not been launched in South Africa, Kimberly-Clark and Huggies contribute to the Walter Sisulu Paediatric Cardiac Centre for Africa, Chance Children’s Home for children living with HIV and AIDS as well as the Sisters of Mercy Orphanage every year. Over and above these worthy institutions, Huggies also provides financial aid and product donations to assist a number of smaller orphanages, institutions and homes for the less privileged as the specific needs arise.


Faigan says Kimberly-Clark is aware that green washing is a growing concern for consumers and customers. “Kimberly-Clark takes this seriously and realises the importance of accuracy in its environmental messaging. The company is committed to providing accurate information in its product labeling and communications that can be thoroughly substantiated. This commitment ties to its value of authenticity and heritage of doing the right thing for its customers and consumers,” he says.


In this respect, Kimberly-Clark has a rigorous internal claims substantiation process that its teams must follow before making marketing claims. With regard to environmental or “green” claims, its legal department has published internal guidelines that comply with the existing Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) Green Guides as to the types of claims that Kimberly-Clark businesses may make about its products or processes. “We expect to update our internal Environmental Marketing Guidelines when FTC announces its anticipated new policy,” says Faigan.


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