Fast Company

How Kleenex Chases the Flu

February is peak flu season, which means go time for Kleenex. But how can parent Kimberly-Clark beat out other brands for the snottiest customers? The preparation began late last year, with its web-based flu-prediction tool, Achoo, and a sharp rollout plan.

Step 1: Offer Achoo

Achoo uses data--from vaccination rates to bird migration patterns--to predict, three weeks out, which areas of the country will (likely) be hit by cold and flu.

Step 2: Pursue

Kleenex brand manager Anna Elledge says the company uses Achoo to see where the flu will hit and to "get out in that market early." Company reps set up "checkpoints," basically stands with coupons and samples.

Step 3: Follow through

Once established, the localized marketing push both steers customers toward Kleenex tissues and rewards those already carrying Kleenex with free product.

Step 4: Bid Adieu

Kleenex moves on to the next region about to be hit with the flu, leaving behind what it hopes is a lot of goodwill--and, more important, brand loyalty. After all, Kleenex will be around next flu season too.

[Photo by Mauricio Alejo]

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