As cold and flu season is upon us, many of us will be reaching for tissue, or Kleenex as most Americans refer to them. Our universal use of this term dates back to the 1930's when Kimberly-Clark began marketing the slogan "Don't carry a cold in your pocket" and Kleenex's utilization as a disposable handkerchief took hold. Today, the term "Kleenex" has been genericized and many dictionaries include definitions for Kleenex in their publications.Creating ubiquitous use of a product and name doesn't happen by accident. The evolution requires a marketing environment that is agile, responsive, and willing to think outside the box. I'd like to call attention to one brand that I believe is achieving Kleenex-level success: Purell.
Johnson & Johnson produces the popular hand sanitizer, which claims to kill 99.99 percent of the most common germs that may cause illness in as little as 15 seconds. While many people carry around the tiny bottles of hand sanitizer, the company saw a bigger opportunity and jumped on it. That opportunity came in the form of Swine Flu.
By following the Centers for Disease Control's recommendation that hand sanitizing with an alcohol-based rub, in addition to hand-washing, is critical to minimizing the spread of germs during illness outbreaks, such as the Swine Flu, Purell marketed to that fear.
Suddenly Purell hand sanitizing stations started popping up this year and now nearly everywhere you look--airports, schools, hospitals, and office buildings--you're not far from the safe haven of Purell.
In today's landscape, it's essential to differentiate your brand--to give people a reason to believe and to buy. Purell has achieved that by not only educating the public about keeping illness-free, but also by making it readily available in most germ-ridden places. Now as a public, we believe that a squirt of Purell will keep us relatively healthy, and the big payoff: Instead of calling it hand sanitizer, I hear people refer to it as Purell.
In a short amount of time, Purell did what Kleenex did. It created long-term value by being relevant and by being clear about what the brand represents.