Marketers shift to interactive online media to reach customers

Size matters:  Having a large, engaged group of self-identified “fans” or “followers” on social media  represents a highly valuable distribution channel for a company.
Size matters: Having a large, engaged group of self-identified “fans” or “followers” on social media represents a highly valuable distribution channel for a company. 

Consumer products makers like Proctor & Gamble, Lever Brothers, Colgate and Palmolive created the soap operas as a branded content medium for their soap brands.

In times when media had little clutter , this was a very effective way of getting their marketing messages to the target consumers.

With the shift in technology and changes in consumer buying behaviours, the soap companies are now developing digital content to reach their market.

Since the social network and websites are more interactive than soap operas, detergent companies are now developing ‘soap social networks’.

Imagine a network of consumers who have common interests chatting.


The social network offers the marketer a better programme for customer engagement.

Since some of the content is developed by the users, it is very authentic and credible.

Marketing activities are being driven by social networks and online communities.

Companies like Proctor & Gamble are exploring new media platforms as consumers behaviour changes.

Innovations in the new media has changed the game plan for many marketing initiatives.

In one of the P& G digital initiatives, they developed the website where pet lovers would find a lot of information on pets such as; checking your pet’s health, track puppy development.

Branding wisdom

Like they say, the more things change the more they remain the same. The soap operas will continue to perform well.

However, their usefulness as a marketing tool will decrease as we step into the future.

Already less and less time is being dedicated to the development of soap operas and more resources are being dedicated to the new media.

The important thing to note here is how the soap companies have been innovating over the years.

Have you realised how OMO the powder detergent has been changing over the years? OMO is one of the most dynamic brands and a household name in Kenya. I got a bit curious and decided to check the brand’s history.

I first checked the rumours and hearsays which are part of every outstanding brand.

One of the rumourmongers said the name was created by a computer programmed to spell out an endless three letter permutations.

I also thought there is River Omo somewhere and someone may have been inspired by the river.

The truth is that the name had nothing to do with the river and it evolved long before computers were invented.

The story precedes the First World War, in Lancaster England, when Lever Brothers chemists were busy pioneering and testing a new way of manufacturing powdered soap.

One of the workers said for anyone wishing to eliminate the struggles of washdays the new powdered soap would be a wise choice.
Through the long standing association of the owl with wisdom, they coined the name Old Mother Owl (OMO).

They visioned the two O’s representing the owl’s eyes and the “M” its beak.

Eventually OMO landed into the Kenyan market and as a result most Kenyans born in the recent times have been spared the traditional washdays of getting into the river, rubbing, scrubbing and even beating to get their linen and clothes clean.

Like any new product in the market Omo faced some technical usability problems.

How can you use powdered soap when most washing was done in the river; the powder would just go to waste downstream.
The marketers of OMO had to first get the consumer out of the river.

They bought basins for the early consumers, taught them the concept of soaking and the results would speak for OMO.

The soaking tutorials is one of the greatest investments for the brand in Kenya.

The various changes the brand has undergone points us to the reality that a brand's life can be extended indefinitely by marketing activities that increase relevant differentiation.

The writer is the marketing director of SBO Research. E-mail: [email protected]