Lifestage Marketing At Its Best: From Kimberly-Clark And Poise

by , Sep 10, 2012, 6:32 AM
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While I’ve written here recently about the things that bra marketers and clothing stores do to capture business from Boomer women, I never imagined that I’d be finding a best-in-class case study on Boomer marketing from a brand of panty liners.

Poise, launched by Kimberly-Clark in 1992, has long held a dominant position in the market for pads and liners to help with the occasional incontinence that affects at least one in three women as they age. In 2009, Poise gave the condition its own, user-friendly name (“light bladder leakage” or LBL) and launched a series of disarmingly funny commercials (featuring Whoopi Goldberg, Kris Jenner, and Kirstie Alley) to make this condition seem both normal and easy to address.

But Poise’s most recent step is the most dramatic, and impressive. I have long told marketers what women tell us, which is that the changes that occur around the time of menopause (and somewhere around age 50) represent the second most important transition in their lives after motherhood, and one that, like motherhood, affects every aspect of their lives: their bodies, their values, their confidence, and their sex lives. 

Poise seems to have heard that point better than almost any brand I can think of.

It started by speaking about the need for panty liners and pads in a new and different way, recognizing this woman as a vibrant, active 52-year old Boomer (for example), who didn’t want light bladder leakage to slow down her life. But the brand has taken another step in recognizing that the same physical changes that affected her bladder have also affected other areas of her life. After interviewing thousands of women, K-C then introduced (in the brand’s own words) “a line of products designed to help you approach menopause with confidence.”

The products offer confidence boosters in three important areas: Staying Fresh (anti-odorant pads and a spray), Cooling Comfort (a gel and towelette to address hot flashes), and Intimacy (also called “Daily Comfort,” Poise’s euphemistic – and maybe optimistic? - term for a sexual lubricant).

I am not the person to say whether Poise has developed exactly the right products that menopausal women want. But I do know from listening to thousands of conversations among women at midlife that these products address important needs, and needs that they identify as all originating with their new stage of life.

I also run a marketing company that helps major brands develop innovative new products that build their brands and support increased sales of their core products. What Poise is doing with its new products is a bold and innovative way to expand its brand and support its core business. Women will be more likely to buy Poise pads because the Poise brand is offering a range of related lifestage solutions, and because Poise simply gets it.

Poise has also given this line extension its own context: “The 2nd Talk,” an ongoing conversation between women about the effects of menopause. Poise is seeding the “2nd Talk” with expert content, conversations, and even a YouTube channel that altogether give these products their own context. The whole approach feels more true to the way menopausal women actually talk with each other – not easy for a topic that has been traditionally taboo. 

At a time when some brands still market to women with an approach both dated and ignorant (check out the new “BIC for HER” ballpoint pen and its hilarious online critiques if you want one fresh example), Poise is taking a smarter, rarer approach of talking to women about the way they actually live their lives, in which one aspect of entering a new lifestage is connected to the rest. 

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