Tampons and Employment Brand Scarcity

Tim Sackett Culture, Good HR, Tim Sackett

Yep, you read that correctly – tampons and employment branding. (Ahhh, yes. It must be Sackett’s day to write at FOT!)

I was totally captured a few days ago by an article on CNN/Money about Johnson & Johnson’s o.b. Tampons and how hard women are working at finding access to this product. From the article:

In January, Johnson & Johnson (JNJ, Fortune 500) said its mysteriously absent o.b. tampons had started being shipped to retailers, but that there could be a delay of weeks or days before they reached the stores.  The company also gave no explanation as to why the tampons — which have a cult-like following thanks to their small profile and lack of an applicator — were off the shelves in the first place.  And it’s now February, and the tampons still haven’t shown up.Ob-sample-m

“I’ve spent about 3 hours driving between 6 different stores today and yesterday, in heavy traffic, looking for OB tampons,” one discouraged o.b. fan wrote in an online forum. “I couldn’t find any at all, in any size!”…

Because the product is so unique, the shortage has led to a black market. While a box of o.b. tampons costs $7.49 at Rite Aid, eBay users have posted starting bids of as much as $130 for four boxes, taking advantage of the limited supply.  And apparently that isn’t too much to ask of some loyal fans, with one customer saying in an online forum that she recently bought a box on Amazon.com for $39. 

So, what does this have to do with Employment Branding? Everything, of course!

99% of HR Shops don’t do this, or at least don’t do this well – we don’t look at making our employment brand scarce – we look at making it larger. We spend a ton of resources trying to make our employment brand bigger than what it is, more known, more visible, more, more and more. And in the end what do we end up getting for all of this? More. More candidates – more talent to pick from – more interviews and screenings to do – more work.

I like to think of recruiting like I like to think of professional bass fishing. (I know you’re thinking… great, now he’s going from tampons to bass fishing – someone please get me out of this nighmare!) In professional fishing, you don’t want more fish – you want the bigggest/best fish. I don’t want to catch one hundred 3 lb. bass, I want to catch five 7lb. bass – any kid with Zebco 202 can catch a 3 lb. bass, but there aren’t many 7 lb. bass out there. Recruiting is no different – I don’t want more candidates – I want the right candidates. Most HR Shops get this confused – primarily because executives and operations don’t get this concept – and they think more is better – and of course they know more about talent attraction – than HR.

So, what should you do? Stop getting more – stop just doing what is easiest (job fairs, job boards, etc.) and start doing what’s hard – actually going out and discovering who is the best talent. Don’t take just anyone into your organization, only take the best – no I mean it, the best, not just the best of what you found. Don’t tell me it can’t be done – J&J found out how to do it with Tampons – I’m pretty sure you can figure out how to do it with Talent!