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Sukhleen Aneja, CMO, Marketing Director, RB Hygiene, South AsiaBI India
How Reckitt Benckiser increased its focus on spreading awareness around health and hygiene during the past few months
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Messaging and communication have evolved as consumers seek ‘purpose’ and ‘value’ in everything they do: Sukhleen Aneja, RB Hygiene, South Asia

How Reckitt Benckiser increased its focus on spreading awareness around health and hygiene during the past few months
  • The Covid-19 pandemic has resulted in an obvious need in maintaining safe hygiene practices as the first step towards preventive health care.
  • This made brands in the health and hygiene segments responsible for educating consumers and spreading awareness.
  • Sukhleen Aneja, CMO, Marketing Director, RB Hygiene, South Asia, a company that manufactures brands like Harpic and Lizol, shares how it had to pivot its focus to the communication of these evolving health and hygiene needs and how it will continue to be an area of focus for the brand along with ensuring the availability of its products.
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The world we are living in since the outbreak of the coronavirus has been one of constant change, be it the way we live our lives, conduct business, reach out to audiences or even the way audiences interact with brands. The past few months have led to a lot of learning.

Amidst an increasing awareness about safety and hygiene, people are now looking up to brands, to help them lead a safe life. Owing to the situation we find ourselves in, specific categories related to health and hygiene have witnessed massive growth.

Therefore, it was the responsibility of brands from this category to spread awareness, and handhold consumers through these adverse times.

We recently spoke to Sukhleen Aneja, CMO, Marketing Director, RB Hygiene, South Asia. Being the manufacturer of some major products that are frontrunners in the health, hygiene and home categories like Lizol and Harpic, Reckitt Benckiser had to adapt to the evolving consumer needs and help educate them, something that has helped them strike a chord with consumers over the past few months. Aneja tells us about her learnings and how the brand came up with communications to ensure they were regularly in touch with the consumers and educating them about the need for cleaning and disinfecting their homes.

Excerpts:

Q) The lockdown phase became a period of new challenges for organizations as well as consumers. What kind of focus did RB give to solving consumer problems and tailoring their offerings to their evolving needs?
The Covid-19 pandemic has heightened the need and importance of maintaining safe hygiene practices as the first step towards preventive health care.

Our brands are well positioned to meet consumers hygiene requirements. We understand that we play a crucial role in keeping our patrons well informed and provide them with superior quality products.

Keeping in line with the changing shopper behavior, we recently launched our ‘e-commerce first’ Lizol Concentrate Disinfectant Surface Cleaner. This innovation is not only effective as a disinfectant but, is also a more sustainable option that is aimed at providing superior benefit value for consumers.

Q) Has there been any surprising behavioural change in the consumers during these past few months that might change the way you market your products, or even lead to a transformation in your offerings?
The Covid-19 outbreak has caused a major shift in consumer behaviour. We’ve been witnessing a heightened hygiene consciousness post the outbreak. There is an increased awareness on hygiene and sanitation levels which has led to category adoption for home and personal hygiene products.

It becomes important for brands like Lizol and Harpic to educate consumers not only on personal hygiene but also on surface disinfection. Our ‘Disinfect to Protect’ public service campaign launched during the Covid-19 pandemic has been focused on informing consumers to clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces. Lizol’s ‘Safe To Touch’ and Harpic’s ‘Saaf Nahi Swachh’ campaigns are built on driving behavior change by educating consumers on the need for disinfection at home to protect their loved ones.

Q) Did some segments under your offering portfolio perform better than others?
Increased awareness on health and hygiene have had a direct impact on buying patterns. The collective effort of the governments, ministries and health organizations to educate consumers on disinfection has been tremendous. Based on Kantar data, we can see an increased demand across brands on floor cleaners, surface disinfectants, toilet cleaners both in Urban India and Rural India. This is primarily because these products are the first line of defence against communicable diseases.

Brands like Harpic and Lizol have seen an uplift due to the critical role they play during Covid-19. Both brands have been tested and proven to be effective against the Covid-19 (Sars-Cov-2) virus.

Q) As a marketer, what will your focus be going ahead in this new world order?
We will continue to focus on our purpose- to protect, heal and nurture in the relentless pursuit of a cleaner and healthier world. As a Marketer, educating our consumers and ensuring availability of our products will continue to be our biggest priority.

Our teams have been working towards our fight –to make access to the highest quality hygiene, wellness and nourishment a right, not a privilege. We will continue to work towards making homes safe and keep people protected from illness causing germs and viruses.

Q) What have some of your major learnings from this experience been?

While cleaning has become a part of the ‘new normal’, consumers are still relatively unaware of germs and viruses that are present on multiple surfaces including toilets and bathrooms at home. We need to take more responsibility to educate our consumers not only on cleaning superficially but also on ensuring disinfection within their surroundings. It is important that buyers adopt specialized products that help break the chain of infection (and drive behavioural change). Advertising has played a key role in helping people understand the importance of disinfecting surfaces as well as toilets and bathrooms within their homes.

Q) Did marketing take on a greater purpose during these last few months of crisis? Do you think effective communication can play a big role in cementing a brand's importance in a consumer's life?

RB’s business is fundamentally intertwined with purpose. Brands play an extremely important role in aligning to changing buying behavior and meeting unmet needs of our consumers. We are experiencing a never-seen-before inflection point which makes it imperative for marketers to provide consumers with correct information and access to the right products. Messaging and communication have evolved as consumers seek ‘purpose’ and ‘value’ in everything they do.

With our campaign ‘Safe To Touch’, we understand the role of surfaces. The campaign is helping people understand that frequently touched surfaces like doorknobs, kitchen counters, table tops etc are extremely vulnerable and need to be disinfected regularly.This campaign brings to life the need for surface disinfection at home.

Harpic’s ‘Saaf Nahi Swachh’ and ‘All-Rounder’ campaigns establish the fact that toilet/bathroom cleaning and disinfection cannot be ignored. It is extremely critical that all surfaces in the bathroom and toilet are not only cleaned but disinfected. Furthermore, its important that consumers realise the importance of specialized products that lead to healthier homes.