Huggies: No baby unhugged

3 minute read

In the fiercely competitive Canadian diaper wars, Huggies topples Pampers to take the top spot for newborn sales. Their integrated campaign targeted moms-to-be, focusing on capturing first-party data to create customer lifetime value.

Struggling for market share

In the world of diapers, Pampers rules with a 60 per cent market share – almost twice that of Huggies. As newborn sales decreased at almost the same rate Pampers increased, Huggies needed to chip away at its rival in a meaningful way. With limited advertising dollars, the brand set out to reverse the decline in its share of the newborn market. Driving home the very essence of its name, the brand communicated the maternal power of a hug and created deep emotional connections with its future moms.

Targeting a key customer segment to drive loyalty

For years, Pampers newborn sales had been increasing at the expense of Huggies. It was time for a critical decision. Should Huggies acquire prenatal moms and secure their loyalty before baby is born, or drive penetration with active-baby moms, where the volume is? The choice would determine the fate of future sales.

Before launching the No Baby Unhugged campaign in 2014, advertising spend was thinly spread across the prenatal and active-baby categories. The higher volume in the active-baby segment would result in more margin. It was tempting, but data drove the brand in a different direction.

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What behavioural customer data revealed

Almost all moms make their first diaper purchase before baby is born, and most stick with the first diaper brand they purchase.

It was these two behavioural insights that caused Huggies to shift its focus to prenatal moms – an audience that needed to be introduced to the soft, comfortable hug put in every Huggies diaper. By acquiring her while still pregnant, it would be possible to secure her loyalty for the whole time her baby was in diapers.

A targeted advertising campaign with long-term payoff

The objectives were clear: build the Huggies brand as being better for newborns, and get prenatal mom to sign up to the Huggies database so she can start, and stay, with the best. While she might not drive the most volume, the lifetime value of $2,600 per child, according to AC Nielsen, was worth pursuing.

The brand developed a rigorous targeting cadence from acquisition through to retention using data and content to deliver relevant messages to women at different stages of motherhood to keep them engaged with the brand.

Focusing on the benefits of skin-to-skin touch, the integrated No Baby Unhugged campaigns have included TV, online advertising, social media and direct mail.

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Incentivizing loyalty

Nielsen estimates that Canadians spend $400 million a year on diapers. Combine that with Stats Canada birth numbers, and lifetime value is close to $1 billion. Huggies needed an incentive for future moms to register to their database, so the brand can stay with them as long as their children are in diapers.

A thoughtful gift

In an exchange of value for sign-up, moms receive a trial pack of Huggies and the brand receives first-party data, including mom’s due date.

An emotional unboxing experience

No Baby Unhugged has been a multi-year campaign that combines the long-term brand value of emotional connection with conversion in the short term. At the start of the most recent campaign, the sample of diapers and wipes was transformed from a cheap polybag into something worthy of an epic unboxing. The Huggies First Hug Box arrives in the mail and demonstrates the true power of hugs by delivering an emotional message alongside the free product trial. Inside the box, a card lets the soon-to-be mom know that the No Baby Unhugged program raises awareness about the benefit of hugs and supplies hospitals with groups of trained volunteer baby huggers.

And then, Huggies reveals that it’s made a donation to the program on behalf of the mom-to-be. Her unboxing experience reminds her about all the hugs she can look forward to with the baby she’s expecting, knowing she’s also helping provide all babies with the best possible start in life.

Getting noticed for marketing effectiveness

Using a strong emotional proposition and increasing relevance through data, every year Huggies wins back share from Pampers since the campaign first launched in 2014. And this strong performance data has resulted in multiple Cassie and Effie awards for marketing effectiveness.

Disrupting the market

Exceeding its acquisition and sign-up targets, Huggies has become the number one brand choice of Canadian hospitals, and the campaign has had a halo effect outside of the consumer newborn category. Thanks to an unwavering focus on prenatal moms and acquiring their first-party data, Huggies in Canada continues to grow while Pampers declines.

  • Huggies has quickly achieved acquisition targets with No Baby Unhugged.
  • According to 2017 Nielsen data, the brand tripled sign-ups in the campaign’s first year.
  • The value of newborn diaper sales increased by 19 per cent (almost double the target in a category with only 1 per cent growth).

What has set Huggies apart from Pampers and ensured the brand’s success is that they have focused on lifetime value. Marketing for effectiveness, they’ve engaged prenatal moms, creating emotional connections with them. In return, those moms have been loyal to Huggies throughout their babies’ time in diapers.

Cassies 2017.
AC Nielsen MarketTrack, Strategy Awards 2017.
Strategyonline, CASSIES Grand Prix: Proving the power of hugs, February 27, 2017.

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