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Pampers vs. Huggies – 40+ Year Old Branding War Hits Search Marketing

As I recently became a Dad for the first time, I am immersed in a world of Pampers, Huggies, Formulas, and Onesies. Furthermore, as I am also looking for something new to write about for SemGeek, I uncovered an interesting anomaly in the Disposable Diaper Industry. Personally speaking, the diapers we were given by the hospital were Huggies and we did not like them and quickly switched to Pampers. That was a great move on our part because it is a better diaper for a newborn baby boy. Ok, you are now wondering, how is he going to tie this to PPC. Well, as my PPC instincts took over, I did simple Google searches on both Brands as well as generic head terms and long-tails and what I found was very interesting, but needed a little more information to back my assumptions up. Well, here is what I found.

Huggies vs. Pampers – A Branding Battle Since 1968

In an interesting blog article entitled "Being first is Secondary" from Stealing Share – A Brand Development Firm,
it talks about the Disposable Diaper Industry and how Pampers, who
built the category in 1968, were all of a sudden threatened by Huggies.
According to Stealing Share, "Huggies now dominates the disposable
diaper market outselling both Pampers and Luvs combined. P&G confused brand with efficacy and
continued to tout product innovation and features, leaving "caring
Mother" to Huggies. "

So what caused this shift in the Diaper Market? According to Stealing Shift: 

  • Pampers sold the best diaper money could buy. 
  • Huggies sold the concept of a "Good Mother". 
  • Huggies built a brand and Pampers built a great category.

How do we tie this to Search and On line Marketing?

In order to keep this article from getting too detailed and lengthy, I simply highlighted on what I perceived as the most obvious and relevant to talk about.

Website/Usability: (Pampers gets my vote)

Pampers wins for their "quick and easy" homepage navigational structure which targets a typical parent who is most likely interested in their products and identifying with the age of the baby (Prenatal, Newborn, Baby, Toddler, Preschooler). On the other hand, Huggies homepage starts with Playing Games, Watching Videos and claiming they are the best. Not a real good sign coming from someone looking for information on their diapers. Another thing to note about Huggies is that their site design is lacking the traditional "flow from left to right and ending up in the middle" type of layout. Huggies provides "over-compressed" images, and a color scheme that hurts the eye and makes you want to leave the site. Overall, Huggies gets a D from me.

Quick SEO Findings: (It’s a Washout)

First of all, both websites have poor URL naming conventions/structures which is the end result of session based site architecture. I would of expected some URL re-writes or even modified "keyword-rich" URL mappings.  Even with this problem, Pampers was the only one with some promise. Pampers website identifies with what was said by Stealinh Share, which is very product and parenting centric and to justify this I identified the following basic Tactic. The Title Tag

Even a novice SEO would pick up the homepage TITLE tags as important. For example, Pampers uses: Diapers, Baby Care and other Parenting Information. When you compare it to Huggies, the TITLE tags are HUGGIES(R) Happy Baby, Parenting Articles, Baby Articles, best parenting websites. If I put on my SEO Hat, Pampers provides a much better keyword segment based on an holistic focus of Product and Parenting help. Huggies makes an attempt at the parenting angle, but falls way short by focusing on only their Brand. Moreover, it does a bad job of selecting poor keywords and phrases to identify themselves. Pampers wins my vote.

Quick Paid Search Findings: (Huggies spending PPC Money, Pampers NOT)

Pampers does not do PPC. Huggies does. Huggies also promotes another branded site called In my brief findings, huggies is spending PPC money on just just its brand name and a few select Long-Tails such as "newborn diapers and infant diapers" Ironically, Pampers is ranks #1 organically for "infant diapers". However, from what I can see, if Huggies wants to make an impact in PPC, they need a major keyword expansion strategy because currently I give them a failing grade due to many other long tail search phrases that appear to be highly targeted and relevant for which they are not ranked.

In conclusion:

Pampers has a much better "user-friendly" website with a clear message to their visitors and brand loyalists. Huggies is missing that aspect of the user experience and even though using PPC, they are not optimized efficiently. In terms of SEO, it’s a WASHOUT, with both of them not having a great URL structure which is prime for indexing. If I had to pick a side, I would go with Pampers based on their keyword selection. I terms of PPC, Pampers sees the need to "bypass" an investment in PPC most likely due to the fact that they built the category and have achieved TRADEMARK status with their name and history.

Huggies on the other hand, appears to be investing $$$ into PPC to try and acclaim themselves as the best diaper on the market. But they fall short in my PPC eyes because they appear to not have a thorough and tested PPC strategy which is resulting in missed opportunities to capture a majority of the Disposable Diaper Market. In reflection of this somewhat "out in left field" blog post, I find this a very interesting topic which has legs for further investigations and research into other industries. This was a very interesting topic to write about and as I do everyday, I appreciate the privilege of blogging about something that is hitting close to home.

Filed under: Paid Search in General

2 Responses to "Pampers vs. Huggies – 40+ Year Old Branding War Hits Search Marketing"

  1. I found this to be a fascinating and insightful post. I knew a lot went into diapers-one of my college friend’s parents made a log of money going around the world and averaging the size of national baby bottoms for one of the major diaper brands. Her parents told me that the average Israeli baby bottom is smaller than the average North American baby bottom, so the idea of “small, medium, and large” alters according to the nation.
    To see how diapers go about branding themselves online, well. If the brands are careful enough to pay to average the size of national baby bottoms, they should be careful enough to create websites attractive to parents, who are some of the most avid searchers online. Wonderful post.

  2. lorisa redner says:

    this helped with my college research thank you
    Lorisa Redner

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