I often find myself lost at the local grocery store, or on the pages of soap.com, shopping list in hand, wondering how to choose between the plethora of kitchen towels, detergents, or bath products available. Better yet, how does a company like Proctor and Gamble get me to purchase their particular version of a product? Packaging surely can’t get any more glitzy and eye-piercing, one would hope, so how do I pick among the various options without experiencing buyer’s remorse once I return home?
It just so happens that P&G conducted a market research campaign which showed that up to a quarter of household product purchases failed to live up to expectations but that nevertheless, people were very open to trying out new and innovative products they came across. Instead of simply gearing up for another media advertising campaign, P&G decided to open up a pop-up store in a busy Manhattan intersection to give visitors a tactile experience of select merchandise in order to sway their purchasing habits. The ten day pop-up experience, located on the corner of 57th Street and 6th Avenue, was part of P&G’s new marketing campaign designed to showcase 18 of the company’s newer and innovative products. Dubbed “Have You Tried This Yet”, the new campaign focused on providing various customer touch points in order to form a stronger connection between buyer and product, and allow visitors to actually try out products while being helped by friendly P&G employees. Perhaps this would help me find some answers to my vexing shopping experience?
Walking into the store, I was greeted by at least five different stations that offered interactive demonstrations of products as well as free samples. The first, a Crest 3d White station offered free consultations and allowed visitors to take pictures of their teeth and see computer generated images of what they would look like after using the whitening product. To the left of the entrance, a Clariol Nice n’ Easy station offered free hair coloring appointments to women. I’ve overheard enough conversations between my girlfriend and her friends to know that the relationship between a woman and her hair stylist is a sacred one, so I was surprised to find two visitors enjoying a relaxing hair coloring appointment courtesy of P&G’s own hair stylists. Walking to the back of the store brought me to a colorful wall featuring a myriad of products ranging from Bounty Kitchen Towels to Tide Stain Removal tablets and Duracell batteries. Employees were on hand to offer free samples and share their insights on the superior feel of Charmin bath tissue (with vitamin A!) or the richer taste of Pringles’ new multi-grain line of chips. One aspect that struck me was that the store did not have any products for sale; I was simply asked to try out new products, enjoy a friendly conversation with the station attendant, and take a few samples home for free.
Other touch points included stations that allowed visitors to try the new pgtryit.com site and sign up to receive P&G’s brandSAVER coupon booklet by mail. Browsing the site at the store, I came across many candid, and often quite humorous, video and written reviews by every day customers for each of the 18 products featured in the new marketing campaign.
I found it interesting that P&G chose to engage their customers and allow them to try out various products under the company’s umbrella rather than create a new TV campaign for individual items. Personally, I feel that purchasing habits of household necessities or beauty products are either influenced by familiarity or a trusted friend’s suggestion, and do not often change. By opening a pop up store and allowing customers to post candid online reviews, P&G is effectively addressing the rigid shopping tendencies their products go up against. While I remain skeptical about the wonders of vitamin A infused bath tissue, I have been able to wield my shopping list with a little more clarity these days.