Reckitt taps China insights

4 December 2012

BEIJING: Reckitt Benckiser, the household goods and healthcare group, is seeking to drive up sales in China and apply local learnings in overseas markets, indicating the country's growing global importance.

The UK-based company began trading in the world's most populous nation in 1995, and has seen demand rise rapidly for many of its leading "power brands", including Dettol, Dosia, Durex and Air Wick.

Rakesh Kapoor, the organisation's chief executive, told Xinhua that it had two core priorities: to "do something for China and [the] Chinese people", and to "get learning from China".

Veet, Reckitt's hair removal range for women, has already enjoyed substantial success after modernising its packaging and positioning in 2008, leveraging insights originally gleaned in India.

A study from Gillette, owned by Procter & Gamble, and Ipsos, the research firm, found only 0.6% of female shoppers in China removed their body hair, indicating the enormous scale of the opportunity.

At present, around 25 different varieties of Veet are available in 130 cities across China, with plans to run its first nationwide advertising campaign next year in a bid to boost awareness outside these urban hubs.

"We are not here to remind the Chinese how much hair they have," Aditya Sehgal, head of the company's Chinese operations, told Bloomberg.

"Our job is to talk about the fact that beautiful smooth skin is critical and grooming is critical. Women make their own conclusions as to what that means."

Another strategy the firm is now considering is a marketing tie-up with Haier, the appliances group, to promote its Finish dishwasher detergent, a key early mover in establishing this category in China.

"If you partner with the right people in China, we can provide the Chinese people with very important product for use to improve hygiene, to conserve energy and conserve water," Kapoor said. "For me China is not about words, China is about actions."

Overall, Reckitt hopes to yield 50% of its sales from emerging markets by 2016, with China playing a central role in achieving such an objective.

"We should be investing more in these markets as this is where there is the opportunity for growth. We are shaping our business for tomorrow," Kapoor said.

Data sourced from Xinhua; additional content by Warc staff