How Procter & Gamble's Prestige Became a Leader in Digital Marketing

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Jean-Paul Jansen, Global Marketing Director & e-Business Leader of Procter & Gamble Prestige, discusses their journey from only spending 10 per cent of the marketing budget on digital, to becoming a leader in digital marketing two years later.

You’re undoubtedly familiar with power brand Procter & Gamble, which encompasses iconic names such as Duracell, Ambi Pur, Oral B and Head & Shoulders, but how much do you know about the marketing strategy behind their luxury range of fragrances from the likes of Hugo Boss and Dolce & Gabbana under the Prestige umbrella?

Jean-Paul Jansen is the Global Marketing Director & e-Business Leader of the Prestige division and he spoke at the Digital Marketing Exchange in London this week about their journey to becoming a leader in digital marketing and the additional challenges licensed brands bring to their marketing strategy.

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He said: "We sell dreams for iconic brands that are leaders in beauty and fashion. As they’re not our own brands but licenced, this poses additional challenges as we don’t have our own platforms to work with."

In addition, Jansen highlighted that digital and content was almost an afterthought in their marketing strategy back in 2013 and just 10 per cent of the marketing budget was spend on digital.

"We did standard banner ads and put videos on YouTube, but we were not a leader in digital marketing," Jansen explained. "The thought was that digital was really complex and ecommerce was perceived to be irrelevant for fragrances."

Changing the Status Quo

Things have changed a lot for them since then, and one of the first obstacles they tackled to make this happen was to challenge the status quo thinking in the organisation.

Jansen said: "There was a notion that most sales were done in physical stores and as a result the thinking was: why should we care about online? However, the reality was that over half of all purchases of fragrances were influenced by online. So you have got to get the online right."

He also said that a lot of people thought that as you can’t smell the products digitally, online was only used to buy replenishments. But in truth 60 per cent of people buy a fragrance online for gifting, which is more than offline where this is about 40 per cent.

"We had to recognise that the pushback to become digital-centric was because a lot of people, especially the 40+ generation, were uncomfortable with digital," Jansen continued.

The idea within the business, and many other organisations too, was to assign digital to the most junior staff, sometimes even interns. But of course if doesn’t work like that. Jansen explained that leadership has to be engaged, as you don’t give junior stuff responsibility over the budget. The company had to recognise that they did not yet have the people in place with the right skills, so they created an e-business center of excellence to tackle this issue.

Creating Connected Content

Content was particular focus of area on their journey to becoming a leader in digital marketing leader, but Jansen warned that content is only king if it is connected.

P&G Prestige created a content planning strategy that would form a bird’s eye view of all the assets that would become part of a particular campaign and how they are connected. They then implemented a framework for content planning that on one side has the different platforms and channels and on the other the role that the content plays on that channel.

"For content to really work you need a creative big idea, which is especially important in digital," Jansen continued. "And to be able to align it to the next generation of users, millennials, you need to talk to them because a simple ad is not enough."

He explained that millennials want to know the philosophy of a brand and how a product is made. "A print ad and 15 second long broadcasting campaign is not sufficient anymore," he said. "You need to be innovative and move away from the standards."

SEE ALSO: The Trick to Successful Engagement With Millennial Customers

Investing in Digital

With the right content in place, they were able to increase their investment in digital marketing. Now search, social and online video are seeing the biggest increase, while print has been hit with the largest reduction. Jansen said that they want to move to social but they are still dependant on some of the traditional channels, such as TV.

The way they approach a TV ad has changed throughout the years though, which Jansen highlighted by showing the evolution of the ads created for the Boss by Hugo Boss perfume. The latest campaign has incorporated the previously mentioned need for the next generation of users to learn more about how a product has been made.

Key elements that have helped P&G’s Prestige to become a leader in digital marketing included changing the internal status quote, creating relevant content and upping investments in digital. The thread running throughout these was connectivity.

Why? "For customer engagement we look at impressions and connections. While everything can be an impression, a connection has a higher value because people choose to interact with our brand," Jansen concluded.