September 2/9 2013; Volume 27/number 10
By Emily Bowbridge
From the time SmartStrand with DuPont Sorona was introduced in 2005, it has fought countless stains in the home, from mustard to coffee to wine. Now, the License to Spill tour that touts the fibers’ stain-fighting power has jumped the globe from its 12-stop circuit in the United States and found great international success.
Harvey Norman is one of the largest retail outlets in Australia. Across the country’s five states and three territories the all-things-home retailer boasts approximately 52 locations where consumers can pick up anything they need for their next home improvement project—from carpet to bedding to electrical appliances. Shaun McGovern, national product and marketing manager for Harvey Norman, has placed Mohawk’s License to Spill promotional kits in the flooring departments at all locations and is nothing short of thrilled with the results. “We didn’t think any campaign could beat Mohawk’s Ricko the Rhino program, but License to Spill has proven to be very successful,” McGovern told FCNews. Since launching the campaign in July, SmartStrand carpet sales have increased 12% across all locations, which is up double digits over the same time last year.
Formula for success:
Know your audience
At press time, the promotion had only been running in the Harvey Norman retail locations for approximately two months and, heading into a weekend, McGovern anticipated a continual rise in traffic as well as business. “We’re very weekend focused as consumers in Australia, so we anticipate this promotion to really grow.”
End users on the southern hemisphere’s largest island are as demanding as the North American shopper: They want what they want, when they want it. But Australians are not as receptive to allowing advertisements and promotions in their emails or to their personal phone lines. They are wary of being “sold” and prefer to seek out information by their own accord. For example, when the nation launched its “Do Not Call” list, the provider’s server crashed within the first few minutes of operation.
With consumer resistance in mind, Harvey Norman has developed a tailored campaign to maximize the efforts behind the License to Spill campaign. “Banners that hang from the roof of our stores are seen from quite a distance,” McGovern explained. “When passersby see people having fun, squirting various liquids on carpet, it arouses curiosity.” The message calls buyers into the stores without being obtrusive.
Considering the Australian consumer’s preference for insularity, Harvey Norman launched a major advertising campaign in the country’s largest metropolitan newspapers instead of sending email blasts or direct mailers. Though it’s a major expense, strong returns have solidified newspaper advertising as a sound investment. “We wouldn’t repeat it if it hadn’t worked well for us,” McGovern said. “During the Ricko the Rhino campaign, we ran ads in the papers and on TV. We still have people coming in and asking about the ‘Rhino carpet.’”
Harvey Norman plans to run its advertising campaign for close to six months under the greater License to Spill program. “Harvey Norman is an avid marketer that continually invests in advertising, promotions and events,” said Elise Demboski, Mohawk’s vice president of creative services. “It understands the SmartStrand sales that can be generated using License to Spill as an umbrella campaign and fully supports its events with PR, advertising and promotional offerings for highly successful results.”
Seeing is believing
McGovern said part of the program’s success is the confidence the product inspires in the consumer when she sees the product deliver on its cleanability promise. “You can see a product on TV and the effect animals in a zoo have on the carpet, but when you make that mess yourself and wipe it off with a little water, it becomes real.” Hands-on demonstrations help dispel disbelief about the product’s claims and inspire confidence in the consumers, who are sold on their own experience. “Now our customers can have a party without worrying about their carpet, about the red wine from their neighbor or the Kool-aid from the kids,” McGovern offered.
That confidence is not only an important component for the consumer experience, but also for Harvey Norman’s sales force. McGovern said the confidence his team has from providing an irrefutable product to customers is something they can run with every day. “Once our salespeople experienced SmartStrand’s softness, stain resistance and durability for the themselves, they became even more confident in selling it.”
Enjoying the process
In addition to helping our salespeople approach customers with added confidence, License to Spill is a fun way to show how SmartStrand delivers on its promise in real life. “SmartStrand has changed the industry here,” McGovern said. “It has so much color and softness and now customers can see for themselves how easy SmartStrand is to clean. It is a worry-free carpet that also meets our customers’ desire for comfort.”
The Australian tour of the License to Spill showdown will continue throughout all 52 Harvey Norman stores and take center stage in some locations throughout the coming months.