Priceline wanted to drive customer traffic to leverage its sponsorship of the first-ever Australian Consolidated Press’ (ACP) 30 Days of Fashion & Beauty, a month-long festival involving ACP’s women’s lifestyle titles.
Research had identified Priceline as a ‘women’s playground’, and The Reputation Group (TRG) devised a supporting marketing communications campaign revealing Priceline’s hidden secrets. Activities included creative promotions and publicity, in-store workshops with beauty editors, a website including beauty tips, and a roving team of make-up artists to surprise customers in key shopping locations.
Results included a 22% increase in projected September sales and invaluable consumer interaction with the brand.
With the long-term goal to become Australia’s most loved beauty, health and wellbeing retailer, Priceline saw its sponsorship of ACP’s 30 Days of Fashion & Beauty in September 2007 as an opportunity to reposition its brand, reach new audiences and change consumer perceptions of Priceline as a ‘two-dollar’ shop.
Whilst Priceline was recognised as a market leader in mid-mass beauty and skin-care, it did not portray a consistent brand message to consumers. Priceline needed to differentiate itself from key competitors on the basis of its exclusive product ranges and expert staff, rather than just its low prices, but without losing recognition of this key brand benefit.
ACP created a full calendar of events for 30 Days of Fashion & Beauty to support its primary goal of kickstarting consumer spending for Summer 2007 for its key advertisers.
Priceline’s sponsorship consisted of brand recognition on 30 Days of Fashion & Beauty collateral, print advertising, participation in ACP events, and access to ACP’s beauty editors for use at events.
In order for Priceline to achieve a measurable return on its sponsorship investment, TRG needed to develop a targeted public relations program that promoted the new brand image, took advantage of ACP’s own events, and added Priceline’s own activities to drive in-store traffic. TRG needed to negotiate relevant editorial in ACP’s magazines to build credibility for Priceline and support the sponsorship advertising.
The campaign needed to create maximum impact during September with a flow-on effect into the busy Christmas trading period.
Focus group research revealed that loyal shoppers believed Priceline is a ‘women’s playground’ and Australia’s best kept beauty secret. Non-shoppers felt that Priceline was similar to a ‘two-dollar’ store, and did not offer an engaging customer experience. Overall, customers appreciated that they could browse without the pressure to buy, signaling this as a key benefit.
Desk research into promotions conducted by leading international retailers provided insights into ways of pampering customers at advice-based in-store events.
TRG also conducted discussions with ACP editors to ascertain best-practices for magazine-branded consumer events, and to identify their preferred topics for editorial coverage to ensure topical information was communicated to each publication.
The research findings meant that our strategy needed to:
- Have a creative theme that repositioned the retail chain as a playful destination;
- Time events during high-traffic periods at a mix of suburban and CBD locations;
- Offer customers beauty advice and free treatments in a relaxed environment; and,
- Focus on Priceline’s expertise in ‘budget’ beauty and exclusive brands in pitching editorial opportunities.
The campaign needed to reach new and existing female customers, with the research indicating that target customers were young, brand-conscious consumers in the 20-30 year old age bracket and older, more pragmatic and family orientated customers in the 35-55 year old age bracket.
Cosmopolitan and The Australian Women’s Weekly were identified as the key campaign media targets that would best reach these audiences.
The secondary target audience was identified as Priceline’s retail staff. Staff needed to understand the new brand positioning and be prepared to act as campaign ‘ambassadors’.
A creative theme of hot pink lips and the tagline, ‘play more, pay less’, was devised to support the 30 Days of Fashion & Beauty sponsorship. This was used across all communications materials, staff uniforms and event staging.
The strategic approach was to devise media publicity, promotions and special events during September that told Priceline’s brand story of being a ‘woman’s playground’, whilst encouraging consumers to take another look at Priceline.
The strategy was centred on in-store events as they provided multiple opportunities to both enhance consumers’ brand perceptions and generate foot traffic. They also offered a strong draw card to encourage non-customers or occasional customers to visit a store. TRG developed an event timetable that integrated with the release of store catalogues and busy sales periods.
With only a two month planning period, the focus was on creating fixed templates for activities to ensure consistent national campaign delivery and leverage of ACP events to incorporate a Priceline component, where possible.
A continual internal communications initiative kept staff abreast of campaign developments so that they felt engaged in the activities and able to support the events and promotions in their individual stores.
TRG employed a variety of communications tools during the planning and delivery stages of the campaign.
A promotional activities toolkit and regular e-newsletters encouraged Priceline stores to embrace the campaign and deliver their own complementary activities.
The toolkit contained suggestions for activities, as well as information on products featured in editorial coverage to allow stores to incorporate these into their merchandising. The e-newsletters highlighted individual activities to congratulate high performing stores.
Regular e-newsletters were sent to Priceline’s customer database to drive awareness of events and share one-off retail offers. These newsletters directed customers to the campaign website to facilitate interest in competitions and registration for events.
The newsletters were timed to encourage maximum event attendance, with reminders emailed prior to events.
The Priceline fortnightly catalogue was branded as a 30 Days of Fashion & Beauty special. With catalogues traditionally the largest influence on weekly sales, many of the brands featured in editorial work were highlighted in the catalogue with in-store shelf wobblers referencing the magazine.
Used as a key tool to showcase the new brand positioning, the website offered visitors ‘30 Days of hot beauty tips’ as well as an interactive calendar of events. Frequently updated with new advice it also featured Priceline’s fortnightly catalogue, highlighting in-store specials.
TRG liaised with the ACP editorial teams on the latest products and exclusive ranges available at Priceline to drive in-magazine support. Editors were treated to an individual Priceline experience, including packages of Priceline’s current ‘hot’ products, as well as fact sheets and other information.
Editors were able to access Priceline beauty and cosmetics buyers as an information resource, on products and general trends in colour cosmetics for more in-depth articles.
TRG based the campaign implementation on four key activities. These included:
Unique events were developed for six stores in key suburban and CBD locations in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne.
To appeal to a broad range of consumers the events partnered with magazines such as The Australian Women’s Weekly, Cosmopolitan, Madison and Woman’s Day. Each event included a workshop element with the relevant beauty editor, with customers on stage as ‘models’, and a team of six Priceline make-up artists on hand to help attendees re-create the key looks presented.
Each magazine’s event involved an added element to appeal to that readership group, for instance, the Madison event featured renowned Australian make-up artist Linda Jefferyes. Using the theme of ‘how to be a Cosmopolitan cover girl’, at Cosmopolitan events, special photographic booths allowed readers to pose for their own Cosmopolitan cover following their Priceline makeover. The Australian Women’s Weekly event was directed to an older demographic with budget friendly advice on make-up for mature skin, while Woman’s Day showcased the best looks for the ‘party season’, in preparation for the festive season.
At all events guests were treated to product samples, and treats such as make-up themed cupcakes and free beverages.
The event set-up included large banners highlighting Priceline’s ‘play more, pay less’ branding, as well as a sleek white make-up stands complete with light-up mirrors staffed by each Priceline make-up artist.
Roving Make-up Artist Teams
TRG created the ‘Priceline Princesses’, a roving team of make-up artists who surprised customers with instant makeovers at stores, at major ACP events, and at high-traffic Sydney CBD and suburban locations.
TRG negotiated with another 30 Days of Fashion & Beauty sponsor, Mazda, to provide special Priceline branded vehicles, with pop-up make-up stations in the boot. These became the base station for the Priceline Princesses. The cars were also driven around high-traffic locations on non-event days to increase brand exposure.
Prestige 30 Days of Fashion & Beauty Events
TRG negotiated Priceline’s involvement in ACP flagship events, such as fashion parades at Mambo, Supre and Valley Girl, with pamper make-up booths for the Priceline Princesses, and product sampling in gift bags.
At the 30 Days of Fashion & Beauty media launch party in Sydney, a Priceline pamper room kept attendees looking their best at all times. The room was dressed with antique style make-up mirrors and an abundance of pink lilies to match the colours of Priceline’s ‘play more, pay less’ campaign.
The Priceline Princesses also roamed the crowd at the Cosmopolitan ‘World’s Largest Swimsuit’ shoot at
Bondi Beach, offering free make-up touch ups to over 1,000 women before the record breaking attempt.
TRG liaised with Priceline’s suppliers to host a range of competitions for consumers to win beauty hampers both on the campaign website and in ACP publications. The main competition, hosted on Priceline’s website, offered customers the chance to win a $5,000 beauty hamper containing a ‘best-of’ selection from top brands. All competitions allowed Priceline to build its customer database and expand the distribution of its e-newsletters.
The project more than achieved its objectives and exceeded expected sales targets, delivering a 22% increase on projected September sales, and a 400% return on investment for the project.
All events were booked out, with more than 1,000 customers in attendance at events.
Store feedback indicated increased foot traffic with extra staff needing to be rostered on at peak times.
The campaign website tracked one million hits during September 2007, and was listed in the top-10 most visited websites in Australia.
Beauty editors showed a renewed interest in Priceline and editorial coverage showcased many of the hero elements of the brand, with stores reporting increased customer demand for featured products. Twentyseven positive articles, or editorial mentions, were achieved across 10 different magazines. Editorial coverage provided by ACP during and around the campaign was valued at $1.6 million. Sustained editorial coverage of Priceline products and activities since September suggests the campaign helped develop strong editorial relationships.
The campaign was evaluated against its set objectives, agreed upon during the planning stages.
As a result of the success in 2007, Priceline is sponsoring 30 Days of Fashion & Beauty in 2008. The resources allocated to the initiative have been increased due to the direct benefit in sales during and after September 2007.