Since Kleenex introduced the facial tissue more than 90 years ago as a convenient way to remove cold cream, the brand has prided itself on continued innovation and domination in the category it created. Most recently, however, innovations in personal care and the increasing commoditization of the category have led the company to reexamine its functional messaging and infuse stronger emotion into the brand.
The new direction is based on a Kleenex study, in which some 50 percent of people in the U.S. reported that they’ve missed opportunities to show someone they care, especially when it comes to everyday moments. Based on this insight, Kleenex shifted the brand to stand for a gesture of care—a tool for forging greater connections between people that can be associated with the Kleenex product.
This led Kleenex to revamp its website to include “messages of care,” making it a place where visitors can send a loved one a Kleenex-branded message and view videos of others’ dedications. In June of 2015, this alone garnered approximately six times the level of Kleenex’s average social media engagement. To appeal to millennial consumers, Kleenex worked with designers like Betsey Johnson in the U.S. to bring new package designs to market. On the product innovation side, the brand launched something new for finicky noses: Kleenex Sensitive. Its favorable reception helped Kleenex maintain its position as the number one tissue brand in the U.K.
At a time when brands across categories are striving to be perceived as more human, Kleenex is absorbing user insights to merge utility and emotional resonance.