Weleda is a leading European Natural Beauty brand that is virtually unknown in the US. While the Natural Beauty Category was growing double digits, Weleda sales were in decline (-6% per year) as they were losing share to bigger competitors' investment spending to capture leadership positions in the expanding category.
Weleda was completely outgunned when it came to media spend. Aveeno (J&J) spent just shy of $100 million in ad spend in 2016 and 2017 and Burt's Bees (Clorox) spent just under $30 million. Weleda's media spend did not even show up in the competitive tracking tools but was actually at $400,000 in working media – making Weleda outspent vs. Aveeno 250 to 1 and vs. Burt's Bees 75 to 1.
The challenge is to find a way to make Weleda's much smaller budgets resonate deeply enough to break through amongst the larger spending brands.
With success relying on hard sales to demonstrate business viability, The Shipyard focused on two primary sales-driven objectives:
Weleda conducted a Natural Market Segmentation Study (n=2,500) and focused on the "Fit and Fantastic" audience. This segment represents 18% of consumers, but 24% of Natural Products and The Shipyard concentrated 100% of our efforts here.
DISTRIBUTED AS CONTENT, RATHER THAN ADVERTISING
Rather than a media plan, The Shipyard worked more like a publisher, delivering content through a variety of digital channels and partners to surround our audience. The goal was highly targeted reach and deep engagement online. Integral Channels included: Digital/Social Video, Digital Magazines (Native Content), Public Relations, Social Media, Interactive Facebook Quiz, programmatically-targeted Display ads and eCommerce. The campaign came to life through documentary-style content, rather than advertising, featuring influencers in the "Green" beauty space. Unscripted interviews covered topics like personal connections with nature, mindfulness, self-care rituals, and the importance of natural skin care products.
SURGICALLY PRECISE TARGETING
Given the massive disparity of spend compared with bigger competitors, The Shipyard employed a sophisticated tech stack to deliver surgically precise targeting. While the content clearly struck a chord with the audience, the way it was delivered was perhaps the most dynamic, yet invisible, reason the campaign succeeded. Here's how we did it:
TRANSLATING RESEARCH TO ACTIONABLE DIGITAL TARGETING
The "Fit and Fantastic" mom from the traditional research segmentation was statistically tied via synchronized questionnaire and a typing to thousands of attributes in the MRI media database. However, knowing that attitudes stated in a survey does not necessarily translate to change in real world behavior, the team launched an extensive in-market behavioral testing methodology. A team of data scientists mined the first party data from purchasers on Weleda.com and mapped the attributes of the segmentation study with 575 third party data sources to identify the most susceptible micro-audiences online.
MESSAGE RELEVANCE AT SCALE
An exhaustive real-time message testing program was deployed against millions of customers in-market utilizing 70+ different messages against the 575 audiences to identify cohorts that were susceptible to different messages. The result was hundreds of micro-campaigns that were personalized to deliver the most motivating message to each audience and proven to deliver sales.
ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE MEDIA BUYING
Taking it further to make the limited budget even more efficient, each audience was scored on their propensity to purchase and the bidding strategy for every ad served was automated to directly tie the amount spent against each person to the opportunity. In fact, every single programmatic ad impression was decisioned individually using artificial intelligence to evaluate whether they were an attractive prospect and determine the right message to serve them – all within fractions of a second as the user loaded the webpage where the ad appeared.
By every measure, the campaign far exceeded expectations.
Increased Market Share: Sales responded immediately in the first 3 months of the campaign's launch, propelling Weleda from the #9 in the Natural Category up to #4.
Turned Around Weleda's Biggest Retailer, Whole Foods: Pre-campaign, Weleda had a decline in Whole Foods and, post-campaign launch, Weleda received double digit growth in Whole Foods.
Drove Sales Growth In New Platforms: Beyond the Natural Category, Weleda needed to penetrate sales platforms where the category is growing the fastest. Post-campaign launch, Weleda saw double digit YOY growth in online sales through Amazon.com and triple digit sales growth on Weleda.com alone.
Increased Engagement While Measuring Purchase Intent: The campaign exceeded goals with a campaign strategy that used engagement at scale to increase website traffic and measure purchase intent.