Whirlpool Shopper: How Whirlpool Leveraged VR


Campaign Summary

Appliance shopping is a chore in itself. It is essential for cooking, cleaning, and washing; appliances are the workhorses of the home. Until they break. Then clothing piles up, food spoils, and dishes must be done by hand. And then there's the big and unexpected expense of the replacement. On top of that, most haven't shopped in this category for seven to 10 years.

Everything seems very new and different. The models, features and benefits form a new language to learn. It's a hassle that's time consuming and overwhelming. Additionally, traditional appliance shopper marketing focused on predetermined holiday promotions that didn't always align with the time that someone needs to buy a new appliance.

Whirlpool's solution sought to fundamentally change how we collectively think about shopper marketing in the category. Instead of letting promotional periods determine advertising, Whirlpool wanted to let the shopper decide. By using advanced behavioral targeting, Whirlpool would understand what caused someone to start shopping for appliances and tailor the ads they see based on what they were shopping for.

The company believed that by putting shoppers and their needs at the center of strategy, it could more quickly build their confidence to make purchase decisions, resulting in increased consideration and store visitation to our key retail partners while reducing the advertising cost per purchase.



To measure success, Whirlpool created brand lift surveys that were run based on exposure to its media, as well as implementing a dynamic creative solution to help serve audiences the most relevant creative messaging.

Ultimately, this approach helped Whirlpool respond swiftly to COVID's impact on the marketplace by allowing us to flexibly tailor its marketing and feature products that were available.

Target Audience:

Understanding the unique shopper mindset was a goal. Whirlpool Shopper's primary target is in-market appliance shoppers: people planning to make an appliance purchase in the next 60 days. But not every in-market shopper is the same. Their shopping journey and needs are dictated by their trigger for entering the market. Whirlpool uncovered three primary triggers for appliance shopping, which formed three audiences:

  1. Emergency Duress shoppers are triggered by a broken appliance. They need a replacement ASAP, so research is sacrificed for speed. Whirlpool identified them the moment they came into market from search behavior to direct them to available products for immediate pickup.
  2. Expected Duress shoppers have put up with a near-broken appliance. Full breakdown is near, but they aren't sure when to act. Whirlpool identified them by searches for appliance repairs and parts and gave them permission to finally buy.
  3. Exciting Life Changes shoppers are triggered by life events like buying a new house, having a child, or getting married, and they typically have a specific appliance upgrade in mind. Whirlpool identified them tapping into behaviors indicating new movers, homeowners, and home renovation projects.

Creative Strategy:

To reimagine the shopping journey and bring shopper-first to life, Whirlpool identified why shoppers are in-market, connecting with three main trigger audiences: emergency duress, expected duress and exciting life changes.

Understanding each trigger's needs and why a consumer enters the shopping journey set the stage for an evolved creative and media activation strategy. To ensure Whirlpool connected with each audience's unique mindset and needs, data signals guided the brand to personalized communications to resonate with each shopper. In order to deliver the right message at the right time, Whirlpool revisited our creative and media approach:

  • Evolved the media investment approach by setting up flexible budgets to allow shoppers to guide where and when paid media dollars were spent.
  • Deprioritized its historical strict media budgets by promotional period and instead relied on data signals indicating the shopper's need to guide investment.

These shifts granted the brand flexibility that allowed it to match unique creative designed precisely to shoppers' trigger needs state, appliance category, brand, and preferred retailer to purchase.

With a strategic foundation that aligned shoppers with the right appliance for their needs, Whirlpool was able to scale activations across consumer touchpoints. Knowing that shoppers re-enter the appliance category after seven to 10 years, getting back into the market is often overwhelming and stressful when product features and functions are all new and different. During this crucial stage of "Criteria Chaos," the stakes are high, and shoppers need to do their due diligence to get to an appliance with criteria that meet their needs.

To ease re-entry and help shoppers reorient to the category quickly, Whirlpool leveraged media touchpoints that would cut through the chaos for shoppers and land their criteria without the stress. This led to the launch of the first-ever Pinterest Virtual Showroom, a 360-degree, fully immersive AR experience that allowed shoppers to virtually "walk" through one of our flagship showrooms and experience Whirlpool products firsthand. The experience used hotspot pins to highlight specific product benefits and features, making it possible for shoppers to get a feel for the products and determine the best fit without ever having to leave their home.


While the first year of this campaign focused on understanding why a shopper is in-market, the second year of the campaign sought to build on this success by better understanding consumers' shopping preferences, habits and behaviors and integrating these insights into the Shopper-First strategy. To do this, Whirlpool partnered with Epsilon to develop a survey-based segmentation of Whirlpool's existing and prospective customers into five distinct shopper audiences that can be used in conjunction with our original strategy. This will let Whirlpool further customize messaging for shoppers and continue increasing its media's relevance.


Overall Campaign Execution:

While consumer and market research revealed the primary reasons why shoppers are in market for an appliance, Whirlpool Shopper had to develop a strategy to identify each trigger audience (emergency duress, expected duress, exciting life changes). First, Whirlpool Shopper created a data strategy that sourced and combined agency-proprietary, publicly available, syndicated and Whirlpool-custom datasets to create a complete picture of appliance shoppers for analysis and modeling. Whirlpool weighed the importance of each data source based on each trigger audiences' behaviors, which ensured the most accurate targeting.

For example, the brand relied more heavily on behavioral data sources such as Google and NinthDecimal when targeting the exciting life changes audience. The brand's analysis from these data sources let it identify people who were moving homes or renovating based on browsing behavior and location tracking. For the expected duress audience, Whirlpool Shopper relied more heavily on data from Epsilon and on-site survey data to develop lookalike audiences that proactively identified people whose appliance was at the end of its lifecycle.

Next, Whirlpool used predictive analytics to score each trigger audience based on seed data from the master dataset. Doing so allowed the brand to identify who was in-market, and why — the critical ingredient to activate Whirlpool's new shopper-marketing strategy. Finally, to deliver personalized marketing to each trigger audience, lookalike models were built to scale Whirlpool's reach for each audience.

Approximately 80 percent of total impressions were served on mobile because the mobile location data enabled the brand to gain a deeper understanding of customers and prospects and to identify the retailers that those customers visited. Whirlpool used mobile as an advertising medium to reach customers while checking their phones for information when shopping in store. Therefore, Whirlpool was able to inform customers at a key point in their purchase journey. Using mobile, the brand was able to measure foot traffic to retailers.

Mobile Execution:

Putting the company's shoppers first set the stage for an evolved media and creative activation strategy. Trigger-first propelled Whirlpool to focus on why a consumer becomes a shopper in the first place and tailored the campaign to meet each shopper's specific need. To truly marry its trigger audiences with the right messaging at the right time, Whirlpool leveraged dynamic creative to bring its vision to life.

This broke down the barriers of traditional budget allocation by promotional periods and allowed the brand to flex budgets to reach shoppers when it matters most to them. In just one week, Whirlpool was able to match hundreds of unique iterations of creative designed precisely to shoppers' trigger needs-state, appliance brand and preferred retailer to purchase. Because of this creative approach to media, paired with the development of immersive new experiences like the Pinterest Virtual Showroom, the guardrails that defined the promo-first approach had been lifted.

Business Impact (including context, evaluation, and market impact)

In 2020, Whirlpool faced COVID-related disruptions including inventory challenges and decreased consumer spending. During this time, consumers were forced to shop online, hands-on product experiences were limited and retail promotions, which historically dominated brand communications, stopped. To make matters more challenging, Whirlpool, like most corporations, was facing significant production and supply constraints, which meant product availability at key retailers was spotty. To succeed in this rapidly changing marketplace, Whirlpool needed a more efficient and effective way of reaching shoppers that balanced shopper needs with business realities.

The shopper-first activation led to Whirlpool's first statistically significant lifts in consideration in two years. In Q3 and Q4 of 2021, groups that were not exposed to media saw significant declines in consideration. However, during this same period, the approach maintained consideration levels around 80 percent. This resulted in a 5 percent lift in consideration for Q3 and a 9.5 percent lift in consideration for Q4.

Additionally, the implementation of the dynamic creative approach to the strategy led to a 25 percent lift year over year in CTR for Maytag's media during Maytag's flagship promotional period, May is Maytag Month. The most recent addition of shopper profile audiences led to the creation of 120 unique addressable audiences, five times the existing number of audiences. Using dynamic content optimization with these audiences allowed the brand to easily create hyper-personalized messages based on who its shoppers are, why they're in market and what product they're looking to purchase.

The results of the VR activation were clear and successful; the virtual showroom had 60 percent engagement, nearly three times higher than the engagement benchmark for this type of campaign, and drove a 3.7 percent lift in consideration for older millennial shoppers.

Categories: | Industries: | Objectives: Data/Insights | Awards: NA Silver Winner