Posted by Barry Silverstein on October 13, 2010 11:30 AM
What's a little company to do when it goes head-to-head with giant competitors who outspend it on advertising by as much as ten to one? Well for one thing, it can appropriate nature.
That's what Marcal has done by appointing its Small Steps brand (launched a year ago; see above) the "Official Sponsor of Fall Foliage." The company's new campaign includes ads, a Fall Foliage photo contest on its website, Twitter and Facebook, and exclusive sponsorship of YankeeFoliage.com, a website published by Yankee magazine devoted to New England fall foliage.
It's a natural tie-in for Marcal which, since its introduction in 1950, has used recycled paper for its bath tissue, facial tissue, paper towels and napkins.
In 2009, Marcal rebranded as "Marcal Small Steps," adopting the slogan, "A small, easy step to a greener Earth." Nowadays, the Marcal Small Steps pitch seems to be right in line with consumer sentiment.
The New York Times reports that revenue in the toilet paper category fell 1.1% for the 52-week period ending September 5, but Marcal saw a gain of 11.8% in that category for the same period. Similarly, overall sales of facial tissues declined 3.5% as Marcal gained 7.3% in the category.
In the same year that Marcal changed its name to Marcal Small Steps, competitor Kimberly-Clark debuted Scott Naturals, billed as being made with "just the right amount of recycled fiber." Marcal Small Steps, however, are made entirely from recycled paper.
According to the Times, in 2009 Consumer Reports picked Marcal Small Steps as one of only six out of sixteen brands of toilet paper it recommended, indicating it was of good value provided that "you're willing to trade some softness for a green roll that's 100 percent recycled." Consumer Reports says the product cost "roughly one-third as much" as Seventh Generation, a competing recycled brand.
Still, Marcal Small Steps continues to battle against much larger competitors like Procter & Gamble's Charmin, which, says a spokesperson, doesn't use recycled fiber because, "it could lead to less strength, absorbency and softness." The company says that's what consumers want.
That may be true, but the Times reports that, in 2009, P&G spent nearly $66 million to advertise Charmin, while Marcal spent only $6.8 million to advertise its entire line of recycled products. As Marcal Small Steps continues to gain ground, its modest investment in advertising and its latest sponsorship of fall foliage are paying off very nicely.