Kleenex Creates Youtility by Predicting the Flu

My Achoo

badge-guest-post-FLATTERWhether you have small children, frequently travel, work in a hospital or share an office, each year presents the dreaded cold and flu season. We run from sneezing strangers, stock up on lotion to soothe over­washed, dried out hands, pop Vitamin D like it’s candy and kindly remind co­workers to please stay home when they’re sick. And we buy a lot of facial tissues.

Imagine if you had an early notification that the flu is coming to your town. Would you take extra­ precaution to avoid getting sick, and stock up on the necessities, such as tissues, to be prepared? Kleenex is betting that you will. Their new app at My­ is a classic case of Youtility. In a genius move from the brand that basically named the category, Kleenex pulls and analyzes data from various sources to advise consumers three weeks out that the flu is headed their way.

As described in the book, Youtility doesn’t always require creating original content from scratch in order to be useful to your audience. In this example, just like the Phoenix Children’s Hospital’s Car Seat Helper app mentioned in Youtility, Kleenex is relying on data that the Center for Disease Control already makes available, and potentially other data sources crunched together by their algorithms, to provide a precautionary alert to the market. According to the Fast Company article, Kleenex claims “the prediction tool has been 90% accurate in preliminary tests”.

Useful Content Sells Tissues

Do you think Kleenex wants to sell more tissue? Absolutely, and their shareholders expect it! But even though the app hasn’t been released, I’ll bet that there is no commerce function. Kleenex is simply providing useful information for its core audience to help them avoid an unpleasant situation: the flu. They know that by providing real value before they sell anything, consumers will remember the brand in the unfortunate event that they do need to buy facial tissues.

This approach might make a few marketers nervous:

Marketing without “selling” or developing content that doesn’t lead with solutions-­oriented value propositions. With the fast and furious rate of advertising hitting your audience everywhere they turn, the way brands and products stand out is by breaking the mold. People want to do business with and buy from companies that they can trust; companies that help them. Be useful – earn trust – build sales.

It can be that easy.

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  1. Carl Adams Jr. says

    Hi Gina,

    Interesting article and great approach by Kleenex! I think it’s smart that brands are starting to find new ways to use tech to expand their brand, even if it’s not a direct pitch. I can’t stand being hit over the head with hard sells, but I love innovative approaches by brands that use a deft touch and offer something new and of value.

    Reminds me of the recent animated video and game app by Chipotle making the rounds on social media. What is your take on their strategy? And do you believe other big name companies will follow suit?

  2. says

    I think Kleenex has developed such a strong brand that people will be willing to try But lets say someone who no one has heard of before developed something similar then it may have had the same reach as Kleenex doing it.
    If someone obscure developed that site then it may have been seen as something novel that may gain traction. When Kleenex does it, it comes into consumers minds that Kleenex is really looking out for us but they are also offering their product in turn. “like hey we warned you about the flu, but if you do get it you can always use the Kleenex”

  3. says

    Kleenex sounds so futuristic in its approach! It’s great to see brands like this – that don’t have to be really creative or strategic because they’re a necessity – doing something so innovative and unique. I’m excited to see the app, and test if it’s really 90% accurate!

  4. Graciousstore says

    You are absolutely correct! The only way that customers can buy from you is if they trust you. If you solve their problems and give them answer to the questions in their minds. They will not only trust you but will also open their wallet to patronize your business.

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