CMO Q&A: Chris Craig, Evenflo (Extended)

Evenflo interim CEO Chris Craig speaks to Lindsay Stein about recent campaigns and the need to know what consumers seek in products.

Evenflo interim CEO Chris Craig talks to Lindsay Stein about recent campaigns and how the company connects with consumers.

Discuss a campaign that Evenflo is currently working on.
We're in the midst of a big initiative called the Savvy Parents platform. When you have kids, there are parents who seem to have it all together and you look to them as your guide. The truth of the matter is that your first kid is the most amazing and difficult time of your life. You learn about a whole new world of bottles and strollers and you're in this miasma of information overload, so you tend to go toward the savvy parents, who are the ones who have been around the block once or twice.

The idea is Evenflo helps first-time parents become second-time smart. We have entertaining and educational content that we generated. We invite others to generate content to surround it and create a place of value for the consumer. The core of it is generating conversations and touching the topics that are on everybody's minds and trying to help people get them answered.

We have also added much more layering into the videos so that we can generate many more topics out of each piece of content. The one coming up in September talks about baby weight, weight-loss strategies, and intrusive mothers-in-law. We'll use that to anchor our outreach for September.

Where can consumers find the videos?
Our target audience is Millennials, women who are 22 to 35 years old, so most of our audience at this point is part of the Internet generation. We try to place the videos wherever you are looking for content, so they're on our Facebook page, we feed them our through Twitter repeatedly, they're on our YouTube channel, they're on a few different pages on our website, and we also work with bloggers.

How do you know what your consumers are looking for in products?
The first thing that helps is that just about everybody on our leadership team is a parent of relatively young kids. Outside of that, it's the marketing department with a lot of qualitative research, such as interviews, one-on-ones, the occasional focus group, and a little bit of ethnographic research, which is where you hang out with people and study to see how they've adapted to shortcomings in the products they use. Also, basic quantitative research that has to do with market surveys and syndicated data can show us numerically where trends are.

Do you have any newly developed products?
We have a line of breast pumps that we redesigned about three years ago with a lot of insight and input from consumers. Since then, we've acquired a medically based breast pump company and are using some of their learnings, in addition to our own.

The nutritional value behind breastfeeding your child has been proven again and again in terms of brain development and the immune system, so as this information becomes more well-known, we are seeing a higher incidence of breastfeeding.

In January, Evenflo raised its prices on products by 7% to 10%. How did you communicate the price increase to consumers and the media?
That was a very difficult period for us. We are all about accessibility as a brand—it sort of cuts to the core of what Evenflo stands for, but we were faced with such massive cost increases.

We spoke to the press about it and we talked to consumers about it through Facebook and Twitter. We have received zero backlash as a result, to the best of my knowledge, so I feel we handled it as well as we could have.

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