“We want people to understand it's a brand trademarked by Sealed Air,” he says. “It will help our bidding when we want the product to be carried at retail and in stores.”
Throughout 2011, with the support of Coyne PR, Sealed Air will expand its annual young inventor competition – inventors must use Bubble Wrap – by providing more in-depth teacher curriculum materials around innovation and sustainability, a core message for the company, adds Aurichio.
The company also recently sent customized Bubble Wrap to New York Yankee Derek Jeter to protect him from the Sports Illustrated “cover jinx” after his teammates who were featured on the magazine's front page got injured.
“It's not just about promoting Bubble Wrap, but building a reputation for Sealed Air,” he says. “It's important we have a strong reputation with stakeholders.”
Indeed, with consumers having more access to information about the makeup of the products they use, b-to-b companies are relying more on the influence of their customer's customer to help improve business relationships.
Giovanna Lemos, manager of US and Canada communications for Tetra Pak, another packaging company with a fairly new b-to-c approach, attributes the trend to the digital landscape.
Last year, the company positioned its brand as eco-friendly with a Fashion Week sponsorship. It targeted both consumer and trade titles to reach agency executives who have the power to “send a message to brand owners and marketers at consumer packaged goods companies.”
This June, during International Dairy Month, Tetra Pak talked to bloggers about the importance of drinking milk and the benefits of its carbon packages in that category. In its most recent initiative, which wrapped up at the end of October, the company launched a juice box 30th anniversary contest, asking moms to post “Celebrate the Juice Box”-themed music videos on a microsite.
“A communications team at a b-to-b company must think what will help support the business,” says Lemos. “It's an opportunity to position our packaging as modern and innovative.”
Randy Pitzer, MD of Porter Novelli Chicago, agrees the digital landscape has influenced the acceleration of the trend. He adds that business PR and thought- leadership activities play a key role in building consumer influence and showcasing knowledge about their “customer's customer.”
“The b-to-b sell takes effort,” say Pitzer. “If we can help a b-to-b demonstrate that it really knows its customer's business, it helps build a b-to-b relationship that's long-term, ingrained, and hard to win back if you lose it.”
Ortholite, an athletic shoe insole that began selling directly to consumers via Amazon in May, proves this concept effective with its new b-to-c marketing efforts. The latest is a cause partnership with Level Field Fund – swimming superstar Michael Phelps is among its supporters –to help aspiring athletes by donating a dollar of every insole sold.
“We have started to develop great consumer recognition due to co-branding,” says Ortholite president Pam Gelsomini. “[The buzz] has created for us a new level of interest and respect from our branded business partners.”
The company's consumer marketing tactics include media relations, SEO, and coupon distribution largely via blogs.
“There's been a great reaction,” she says. “We were just in Shape. PR is slowly starting to pick up.”
Gelsomini expects that the company will expand its consumer offerings in the near future.
THE PIONEER: INTEL
Marketers refer to semiconductor company Intel as one of the first b-to-b brands to market directly to the consumer, promoting its processors that power brand-name computers.
“Not many years ago, if you mentioned the word ‘microprocessor,' you'd likely get mystified stares from consumers,” notes the company's website, “but today, many personal computer users can recite the specification and speed of the processor.”
For “Exercise Your Core,” a recent campaign for a new line of processors, Intel tapped soccer star Mia Hamm as a celebrity spokesperson, a strategy new to the company.