Reckitt benefits from unique approach

14 August 2009

SLOUGH, UK: A "lean" management structure and a willingness to take risks have helped Reckitt Benckiser drive growth in the downturn, the company's marketing director, Phil Thomas, says.

Reckitt recorded a 23% increase in revenues, to £3.78 billion ($6.19bn; €4.41bn), in the first half of this year, helped by an emphasis on its 17 "power brands" and a continuing commitment to supporting these products with a range of marketing initiatives.

Thomas described Reckitt as "a power-house for advertising development," with a focus on commercial communications helping strengthen it against the encroachment of own-label rivals.

Among the initiatives Thomas has overseen since joining the company in 2007 are the relaunches of E45, its skincare brand, and Finish, its dishwasher product range, as well as shifting more of its adspend to online video.

He argued that "a key factor in Reckitt Benckiser's success is its leanness. The amount of responsibility people have, at all levels in the marketing department, is incredible."

One advantage of this approach is that it does "everything faster than our competition," helped by an absence of the sort of "matrix structure" which often typifies its category.

"In other FMCG companies there is a massive amount of internal debate and confusion over who has the decision rights," Thomas said.

"We always make a decision. I would rather any decision than no decision. And we aren't going to have five meetings to make it. The team will argue it out and then a decision will be made."

Such a strategy is not without risk, as "when you are making decisions at high speed, you will get things wrong – and that is OK, as long as we work quickly to fix the problem."

As previously reported, Reckitt recently launched a global digital marketing campaign intended to build awareness of both its corporate brand and redesigned logo, based around the initials "RB".

This branding has several advantages, most particularly that it is "memorable, short, snappy and direct, just like our culture," Thomas said.

Data sourced from Marketing; additional content by WARC staff