Launching a DTC Product? Leverage a Legacy Brand!
Join DRTV Expert, Ken Kerry and Cleva North America VP Dan Bilger to discover how Cleva found DRTV success launching the Kenmore Intuition vacuum cleaner.
Launching a new product is always a challenge, but especially in the crowded housewares industry. There are already hundreds, if not thousands, of products like yours on the market. How do you create the brand loyalty for yours? If you have the ability to market your product under a respected brand name, how do you maximize leverage of that brand equity?
These were just a couple of the questions asked and answered in Direct-to-Consumer (DTC) agency Script to Screen’s April 22, 2021 edition of their #ThoughtLeaderThursday webinar series. Titled “Launching a DTC Product? Leverage a Legacy Brand!”, the show was an introspective look at the ways a company can launch a new product when they have access to a venerable brand name.
Answering the questions at the webinar was Dan Bilger, Vice President of Marketing/Product Development at Cleva North America. With more than 20 years of experience in consumer durable goods marketing and product development, Dan is an executive with a proven track record of leading well–known brands to category dominance through disruptive product innovation, creative messaging, and trend-setting go-to-market strategies.
At Cleva, Dan is responsible for managing the Kenmore portfolio of floorcare products, and in 2020 oversaw the launch of the Kenmore Intuition, which now has broad distribution across all major retailers. The principal driver of their success was a Direct Response TV and digital campaign. These campaigns spread awareness while garnering sales using a greatly improved technology.
Prior to his time at Cleva, Dan worked for Shark/Ninja in a similar role. Under his leadership, the Shark floorcare business experienced a tremendous period of sustained growth. The Shark/Ninja company grew from $200 Million in revenue in 2009 to over $1 Billion in revenue and #1 Market Share in upright vacuums in 2017.
Dan is passionate about utilizing the Direct Response medium as a way to drive sales and awareness around innovative and disruptive product lines to ultimately achieve rapid category growth and financial success.
Cleva had an interesting series of challenges. Firstly, hey launched the Intuition, a new bagged vacuum cleaner, to an American public that had been told over decades of marketing that bagless vacuums were more convenient. Talk to any vacuum professional and they will tell you that bagged vacuums give you a much cleaner floor for your dollar, but bagless vacuums dominate the shelf space at retailers. Cleva knew it was going to have to find a way to tell their story of superior vacuum technology and performance.
Finally, Cleva also had the rights to sell their vacuums under the Kenmore brand name. Kenmore is a respected appliance brand, but for decades was tied to the retailer Sears. Kenmore has not been exclusive to Sears for a while. Still, convincing consumers that they can purchase the Kenmore Intuition anywhere vacuums are sold would be another story to explain to consumers.
The Pain Point
Cleva did their research, talking to customers and getting their opinions. What they discovered was a pain point that no one would talk about. 90% of the upright vacuum market is bagless. Bagless vacuums generally have an inefficient way of disposing of dirt. You open them up and empty the dirt directly into the trash. That usually causes spillage. No one complains about it because for most people, that’s just how vacuums work now.
“We were able to take some of that pain away and replace it with delight,” Dan explained. “I don’t have to touch the messy dirt, it’s easy for me to empty, my house is going to be cleaner, and I’m not going to reintroduce these dirty things into the air. That really resonated with people.”
Cleva needed to figure out a way to tell this story in the right way, to the right people. If they could, there was a good chance they could leverage the Kenmore name and make the Intuition a hit. They had a solid product meeting a real need in the marketplace and a unique story behind it. So the question then was how would they tell that story and reach the right customers?
Cleva’s marketing strategy goes by many different names. It’s known by Direct-to-Consumer, Direct Response, Performance Marketing, or even by its most famous format, the Infomercial. By utilizing a DTC strategy, Cleva was able to fully tell their narrative of all their superior features and benefits.
“Having the right product is not just about the brand,” Dan said. It’s not about checking the boxes. Its going in and really being able to tell a unique story.”
The longer format allowed them to not just brand, but show how their bagged vacuum cleaner was able to provide a superior cleaning experience without dust flying everywhere when the vacuum cleaner was emptied. Subsequently, they were also able to explain that the Kenmore name now means something more than making a trip to Sears and can now be purchased through retailers or even better, directly from Cleva. They were able to reach people by following their customer journey.
“We are in an environment today that’s different from 10-15 years ago,” Dan said. “We’re adapting. We’re not just relying on one sales channel. What Direct Response does that a lot of other ways of advertising does not, is give you feedback that is so timely and accurate that you can act on it and make those changes from week to week to make sure you are getting in front of the most people.”
Our Next Webinar
Please join us for our next #ThoughtLeaderThursday webinar on May 20, 2021 at 2:00 PM ET/11:00 AM PT. We will be talking about ways that DTC strategies have been successfully applied to the fitness and sports industry. Our guest will be John Gonsalves, Vice President of Direct–to–Consumer & Digital for the TaylorMade Golf Company. We will examine the recent launch of the Adams Tight Lies Fairway Wood golf club.
3:30 Interview begins
3:50 What is Cleva North America?
6:00 Why use the Kenmore name, and why use DTC?
11:12: Telling a unique story
18:00 What are the three most important things a marketer looking at DTC needs to know?
29:40 DTC follows the customer journey
35:30 What should housewares companies be thinking about in 2021?
41:25 Final thoughts
Co-Founder and Executive Creative Director of Script to Screen
Ken Kerry serves as an Executive Producer and Executive Creative Director at Script to Screen, and his hands-on involvement ensures the highest production values are combined with solid direct response principles. Script to Screen is one of the nation’s leading direct response television companies, producing more than 600 infomercials and DRTV spots, generating more than $6 billion in sales for its clients, and winning numerous awards for excellence.
VP Marketing / Product Development, Cleva North America
With more than 20 years of experience in consumer durable goods marketing and product development, Dan Bilger is an executive with a proven track record of leading well known brands to category dominance through disruptive product innovation, creative messaging, and trend-setting go-to-market strategies.
At Cleva, Dan is responsible for managing the Kenmore® portfolio of floorcare products, and in 2020 has overseen the launch of the Kenmore® Intuition®, which has broad distribution across all major retailers, driven by a Direct Response TV and digital campaign to drive awareness to this exciting new technology.
Prior to his time at Cleva, Dan worked for Shark/Ninja in a similar role. Under his leadership, the Shark Floorcare business experienced a tremendous period of sustained growth; the Shark/Ninja company grew from $200 Million in revenue in 2009 to over $1 Billion in revenue and #1 Market Share in upright vacuums in 2017.
Dan is passionate about utilizing the Direct Response medium as a way to drive awareness around innovative and disruptive product lines to ultimately achieve rapid category growth and financial success.