Can an ad campaign influence consumers to buy more water? According to a new study by Nielsen Catalina Solutions (NCS), it can—but only if done right. The online ad campaign for the “Drink Up” effort—a collaboration between the Partnership for a Healthier America (PHA) and First Lady Michelle Obama—for example, fueled a 3 percent lift in incremental sales of bottled water among those exposed to the online “Drink Up” campaign. This equates to almost $1 million in incremental retail sales of bottled water.

The premise of the campaign was simple: encourage people to drink more water, more often. Assessing the effectiveness of the effort, however, was no small task, especially in an increasingly fragmented landscape. In order to tackle the efficacy of the online campaign, NCS set out to measure the water-purchasing habits of households that were exposed to the online Drink Up ads during the 16-week period between Sept. 12, 2013, and Dec. 31, 2013. The study also aimed to identify what drove the increase in sales.

NCS used single-source methodology to determine the incremental retail sales lifts among the households that were exposed to the ads. Those households’ purchases were then compared to a control group of nearly identical households that did not see the advertising.

During the study, NCS focused on three core consumer segments to see which was most responsive to the advertising.

Among the three consumer segments, the sales lift was highest from the “Eat, Drink and Be Merry” segment at 4 percent, but the sales return per thousand impressions was highest among the “Fence Sitters.” This suggests that the message resonated with the Fence Sitters and influenced them to shift their beverage choice, resulting in a very efficient ad spend.

THE DRINK UP CAMPAIGN QUENCHED A THIRST FOR LIFT

The Drink Up campaign was very successful, as the study showed that its results were in line with the category average for sales lift (3%), and it provided a return of more than $5 dollars in estimated incremental sales for every $1 dollar spent in advertising.

METHODOLOGY

To measure the effectiveness of the campaign, NCS identified two groups of nearly identical households that were matched on more than 50 variables, including the mix of category and brand purchases, during the 12 months before the campaign:

  1. Households exposed to the ads.
  2. Households not exposed to the ads.

The sales differences between the two groups were then measured during and after the campaign. In addition to the total sales, key metrics such as penetration, buying rate, occasions and purchase amount were determined to see what factors drove the sales results.

ABOUT THE PARTNERSHIP FOR A HEALTHIER AMERICA

PHA is a nonpartisan nonprofit organization that is led by some of the nation’s most respected health and childhood obesity experts. PHA brings together public, private and nonprofit leaders to broker meaningful commitments and develop strategies to end childhood obesity. Most important, PHA ensures that commitments made are commitments kept by working with unbiased third parties to monitor and publicly report on the progress our partners are making. For more information, visit www.aHealthierAmerica.org.