Consumer healthcare brands have seen demand boom during the COVID-19 pandemic. GSK Consumer Healthcare’s Global Chief Marketing Officer, Tamara Rogers, shared with WARC’s Anna Hamill how the brand is embracing an uptick in e-commerce shopping.

Read WARC’s new report, ‘Rethinking Brand for the Rise of Digital Commerce’ here.

How have GSK brands have managed the shift to e-commerce, especially given the COVID-19 acceleration in this area?

COVID created huge disruption and changed consumer habits and attitudes literally overnight – accelerating existing trends towards buying purposeful, sustainable brands, the shift to e-commerce and triggering record high demand levels for some categories and lows for others.

These shifts, for e-commerce in particular, were driven by safety, convenience, social benefits and, specifically for healthcare, being there for the consumer in their time of need. For our brands at GSK Consumer Healthcare, we’ve recognized the need to connect in deeper ways to the changing requirements of people and their health.

When we combine inclusive, timely and culturally resonant human truths with cutting edge creativity and technology – we can truly connect and provide innovation and experiences that are needed and valued.

What has GSK learned about operating on e-commerce platforms – the challenges, opportunities, lessons learned or applied? 

Experience is everything – irrespective of the brand or product, consumers are demanding personalized, highly engaging and differentiated digital experiences. Added to this, hyper convenience is crucial.

Immediate, friction-free shopping has become the minimum expectation. With an eye on the future, China is a snapshot of what is to come. Chinese consumers are amongst the most sophisticated in the world in their use of digital and mobile to purchase goods and services. The rest of the world may not be there quite yet, but the Chinese are the pace setters.

How is GSK approaching shoppable media and content development targeted at e-commerce?

The user journey within e-commerce is changing. How consumers browse media and their purchase patterns have shifted, particularly exacerbated by COVID.

The e-commerce space is becoming increasingly blurred within social channels, and is long past being a channel focused entirely on sales, becoming more emergent in brand building, reaching consumers in all stages of the user journey.

Has there has been an impact more broadly on where GSK invests its media budget as a result of all this?

Consumers are searching for solutions, on marketplace platforms, so it’s safe to say that search is gaining in importance. Retailer platforms are also becoming increasingly important. To engage, we have ensured we are present where consumers are, with contextually relevant content.

What’s your current outlook on investment in brand vs performance marketing?

The relationship between awareness and purchase is evolving and therefore how we plan needs to be approached in an integrated way. Given the strong shift to e-commerce across all categories and channels/properties, we are seeking to balance our investment along the consumer experience journey.

The weighting depends greatly on the category, current brand awareness and strategy, however we’ve seen a significant shift to lower funnel digital investment including e-commerce, but we know strong brands are built with a combination of long-term brand building with short term performance activation. 

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