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Toto plunges into mobile with ROI-calculation app

Plumbing product manufacturer Toto is entering the mobile space with a new application that lets users calculate the return on their investment and the benefits to the environment for the brand’s  high-efficiency products.

MyGreenPayback, which can be accessed on the Web, tablets or smartphones, compares products and breaks down the technical data maintained in Toto’s database so customers can understand ROI measurements more easily. Through this mobile effort, Toto is creating a mobile presence for its brand and deliver information for its products in a way that customers can comprehend.

“It looks like Toto understands where their end users are,” said Scott Michaels, executive vice president and partner at Atimi Software, Vancouver. “They list contractors, trades, etc., which are all groups of people that are highly mobile as they travel around job sites.

“Desktop would not be the right way to reach their end users, though it appears to be an option,” he said. “Building it as a platform is smart.

“From a marketing perspective, having a list of end users that care about this, by making an account, are a valuable group to market to in the future as Toto releases more and more green and environment-friendly products. The information collected could help focus product development initiatives as well.”

Mr. Michaels is not affiliated with Toto but agreed to comment as an industry expert.

Toto did not respond by press deadline.

Easy access
The rising majority of consumers are known for their short attention spans. They need to know in five seconds or less how they will benefit from a product.

Toto is responding to this by making the technical information that represents its products digestible for customers.

To calculate payback, users input their product data, including quantity, usage profile, and purchase price, into the app. Users also have the option to input their project profile, which includes product data, utility rates, inflation and time horizon. Once the data is input, users can calculate their ROI and their payback breakeven point.

MyGreenPayback provides users with the financial impact and potential savings breakdowns for energy cost savings, water cost savings and total cost of ownership, otherwise known as the life cycle.

Users can complete multiple calculations by adjusting their product or project parameters.

Physical going digital
Brands such as Toto maintain a business that remains very physical. However, it feels the need to be involved in mobile.

General Mills and Clorox are in a similar category but are still doing occasional mobile efforts.

With Hispanic consumers overindexing on mobile, General Mills and Clorox looked to reach these valuable consumers through the bilingual shopping application Veo earlier this year.

Veo is a bilingual shopping app by Latinum Network that connects brands with the Hispanic market by engaging them in their native language with free product samples, recipes and giveaways. While Hispanic communities are the most digitally engaged of all consumers, many brands have failed to access this surging market (see story).

Similarly, consumer goods company Procter & Gamble rolled out ads in August with a new format that mirrored sponsored content often found on Facebook, which introduced a social approach to digital advertising.

P&G partnered with British grocery chain Asda, who has also reeled in Unilever and PepsiCo, to execute ads structured to drive engagement and serve as less of an interruption and more of a conversation. These ads were visible on the retailer’s Web site’s homepage on desktop and mobile, due to Asda executives’ beliefs that users are more susceptible to interruptions on homepages (see story).

Experts agree that this move is a good one for Toto.

“When contractors are looking for impact of their purchase decisions, Toto offering more data points to help with the decision will clearly demonstrate their strength as a brand,” Mr. Michaels said. “If a contractor knows their client is motivated to build environmentally responsible projects, having this tool could help Toto be represented by the contractor due to the availability of the data and the tool, thereby making Toto the choice over other competitive brands.”

Final Take
Caitlyn Bohannon is an editorial assistant on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York