Depend brand, Consumer Services team take stress out of product purchases

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Kimberly-Clark's Depend brand, Consumer Services team take stress out of first-time incontinence product purchases

​Feelings of embarrassment and anxiety still exist for people with incontinence. By the time consumers decide to make the transition to incontinence products they have already experienced many different emotions. Since this is unfamiliar territory, many consumers go through a trial-and-error process to determine the best product for their needs, which often proves overwhelming, frustrating and expensive.

Enter Kimberly-Clark's Depend brand whose primary goal is make life easier for millions of adults who experience incontinence. Easing this frustration creates an opportunity to increase the number of new users by engaging new category entrants. The Depend brand partnered with the company's Consumer Services team to provide the human touch needed to guide consumers in their search for the best solutions.

Commercial program establishes Depend brand as a trusted ally with new users
It is estimated that 80 percent of first-time users of incontinence products are not sure which product to buy and that women on average spend around US$135 trying to find the right product. The Depend brand team created no-cost and low-cost sample kits for men and women that included various products, an information booklet and coupons to alleviate the frustration and expense with purchasing incontinence products. These were promoted online, via free-standing inserts and at select retailers.

The other critical part of this program was to ensure that these consumers had a live person they could contact for guidance during this sensitive process, which is where Consumer Services stepped in. Based on helping the brand achieve its goal of reaching out to new category entrants, the Consumer Services team's strategy was to make information more accessible via the consumers' preferred channels to guide new users and provide personalized and optimal experiences.

Increased accessibility equals increased conversations
"The first thing we did was dedicate a team of representatives to the Depend brand," said LouAnn Doolittle, Consumer Services sector lead for the Depend program. "Each advisor received in-depth training on the brand objective, strategy and tools available to assist the new category entrants."

The hours of availability to speak with a live person were extended from 40 hours to 84 hours and encompassed seven days a week. Live Chat was added to the Depend website to increase accessibility. Unique, toll-free phone numbers were provided for key retailers to offer differentiated support and allow customized conversations. Toll-free phone numbers, which connected consumers to a caring, supportive advisor, also were included on the free-standing inserts and national ads promoting the sample kits.

Another key element that Consumers Services provided the Depend brand was the ability to reconnect with consumers once they received the samples. More than 90 percent agreed to be contacted after receiving the sample, and when they were surveyed, 95 percent confirmed that personal interaction is influential and necessary to make the right choice when it comes to purchasing incontinence products.

"Partnering with the Depend brand team and having direct involvement in this commercial program provided our team with the tools to engage with those new to the category in a meaningful way," Doolittle said. "Our Depend advisors have found it very rewarding to help guide individuals who are searching for the right products to maintain their active lifestyle while coping with incontinence."

Connecting on an emotional level with consumers critical to increased share
Connecting on an emotional level with consumers is paying off. Conversations have increased by 107 percent vs. 2010. More than 25,000 sample requests have been processed and the top two conversations center on sample requests and product usage. When surveyed, 71 percent of consumers said they will purchase Depend brand products after trying the sample and 87 percent confirmed that having multiple sizes to try from was useful.

"The Consumer Services team has been invaluable at establishing the Depend brand as a trusted ally and has helped us remove obstacles by providing information, support and guidance which is critical in a brand that consumers have such an emotional connection with," said Jaime Hirsch, Depend associate brand manager. "By eliminating these barriers and personalizing the experience, we are achieving record new user numbers and share numbers."

The Depend new category entrant program was recently recognized by the Word of Mouth Marketing Association, one of the marketing industry's most prestigious professional associations. The Consumer Services team was presented with a bronze award in the Customer Relationship Management category putting it in the same category as many of the world's top consumer companies.

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