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News Analysis 2 Feb 2022 - 5 min read

Reckitt cleaned up on shopper data during Covid to drive 2.5x uplift, plots BVOD push with Cartology, Flybuys

By Sam Buckingham-Jones - Deputy Editor
Saurabh Jain from Reckitt Benckiser

"I think you can say safely, in the last two years, our portfolio has got a chance to service the maximum number of Australians," says Reckitt Benckiser's Saurabh Jain. Now he's putting that retail data to use – and BVOD's in his crosshairs.

Covid gave Reckitt Benckiser a snapshot of just about every Australian who could possibly buy cleaning products – and along with retailers, a huge trove of shopper data to fuel digital campaigns. Harnessing that data has already driven 2.5x better returns, says Reckitt Hygiene product marketing boss Saurabh Jain. Now he wants to layer shopper data into BVOD buys in a bid for sharper targeting on the big screen, if the likes of Cartology can connect directly into Australia's main TV networks, or by other means.

What you need to know:

  • Reckitt Benckiser says retailer media and targeted shopper data are driving smarter retargeting strategies and huge uplift as it leverages a Covid-fuelled acquisition bonanza.
  • Targeting specific groups after the peak of cleaning product buying, Reckitt has increases in ROI – nudging 2.5x.
  • Reckitt Hygiene product marketing boss, Saurabh Jain retailer media means marketers are  “buying the vertical you were always choosing” – just with better data to target more likely buyers.
  • While Reckitt will continue its low price, volume-driven approach to TV buying, Jain is also keen to layer shopper and loyalty program customer data onto BVOD services through the likes of Cartology, which is "currently exploring" how to integrate with the major networks' BVOD platforms.
  • He says Cartology and Flybuys will earn more when campaigns deliver the goods.

[Flybuys and Woolworths' Cartology] bring data efficiency. We can do a lot of outdoor, etc, but for me, the real value add that comes from them is the richness of our shopper data.

Saurabh Jain, Marketing Director, Reckitt Benckiser Hygiene

Growth booster

After fighting for toilet paper, Australia scrambled for cleaning products as the pandemic took hold – and Reckitt Benckiser mopped up.

With a market share of more than 50 per cent for some of its brands – the likes of Finish, Air Wick, Vanish and Dettol – the peak of Australia’s Covid lockdowns saw huge demand for disinfection, home care and cleaning products. Reckitt filled its bucket, acquiring a market-wide snapshot of possible customers to re-target. The sheen, says Saurabh Jain, Marketing Director of Reckitt’s Hygiene products, is yet to wear off.

“I think you can say safely, in the last two years, our portfolio has got a chance to service the maximum number of Australians,” says Jain. “We got an orientation of how many people at any point in time care about hygiene.”

Reckitt’s results underline that statement. Globally Hygiene vertical grew by 12.7 per cent to £4.47 billion (A$8.45bn) year-on-year to October 2021, according to the firm’s most recent trading update, versus Nutrition, which was broadly flat (0.7 per cent growth to £3.33bn/A$6.29bn). Meanwhile Health dropped by 5.7 per cent to £2.07bn (A$3.91bn). 

I think this is one of the best online tests that we’ve done in recent times, which gave us phenomenal uplift – almost two and a half times better return.

Saurabh Jain, Marketing Director, Reckitt Benckiser Hygiene

Cheap TV still rules, but retailer media rising

Reckitt is known as a mass media player, buying inventory in volume deals at bargain basement prices. Jain says while it still prioritises television as a medium, retailer media is proving its effectiveness – layers of data from Woolworths’ Cartology and Coles’ Flybuys are making digital media buys far more effective.

“They bring data efficiency. We can do a lot of outdoor, etc, but for me, the real value-add that comes from [the retailer and loyalty specialists] is the richness of our shopper data.”

By way of example, he cites Finish, Reckitt’s dishwasher cleaning brand.

“Our products become relevant if people have dishwashers at home. I can go and talk to everyone through mass media, TV, outdoors, and I’m going to pay for every customer irrespective of whether he or she has a dishwasher.”

But targeting people with dishwashers – and those likely to buy dishwasher cleaning additives – is where the rewards are, says Jain. Likewise, with disinfectant spray Glen 20, Reckitt was able to specifically target people who had bought similar products at the peak of Covid.

“At the [2020/21] peak, the hygiene behaviour went there,” Jain says, pointing to the heavens over a Zoom call.

“We were washing our hands, we were wearing the mask, and we lived with that… But after a while,  the guards dropped. Yet our ability to actually talk back to that shopper and remind them Covid hasn’t gone away is where Flybuys and Cartology play a tremendous role. Between these two examples (Finish and Glen 20), I’m trying to talk to the efficiency of the data.”

The omicron wave has seen a repeat of peak behaviours, says Jain, though the company is now more targeted, aiming to reach customers "who are more vulnerable, elderlies as well as parent of toddlers and infants” that are acutely conscious of the need to take Covid precautions.

[Retailer media] is more sharply targeted which, of course, means it adds to the cost. But then the belief is that through the returns, I'm able to drive efficiency ...[but] the cost has to pay off in terms of the return that it generates.

Saurabh Jain, Marketing Director, Reckitt Benckiser Hygiene

Flybuys versus Cartology

Retailer media looks set to carve a billion dollar slice of Australia’s ad market, with some consultants predicting it will be the first media spend on the plan, taking share from other media channels.

Jain is a fan, and says Reckitt is prepared to pay more if the return on investment is higher, with spend that goes through Cartology and Flybuys drawn primarily from Reckitt’s “digital” bucket. In other words, retailer media is not necessarily eating budget reserved for other mass media channels.

“It is more sharply targeted which, of course, means it adds to the cost. But then the belief is that through the returns, I'm able to drive efficiency. That's why the test and learns are important – what's the right price for data? What's the right uplift that you get versus business as usual? Typically, we saw around a 15 per cent greater increase in uplifts [from] going more sharply targeted.”

Through testing, Reckitt encountered pockets of people more likely to spend on laundry sanitiser: Mums of toddlers, pet owners and gym goers, for example.

“On this one, we went with Flybuys. We asked, ‘How do you define [these groups] from their shopping behaviours? Can you layer consumers into these three or four groups for us?’ So Flybuys came back and said yes… and when we used that element, it just became super interesting. It was one of the best online tests that we’ve done in recent times and gave us phenomenal [results] – almost two and a half times better return on uplift.”

The added advantage, says Jain, is that the approach uses the same media – YouTube and Facebook, for example – that the campaign would have run with anyway, but based on more than just demographics, age, or gender targeting.

“You get some affinity and interest-based targeting, and you replace that with an actual shopper,” he says. “It's just sharper from a targeting perspective. Of course, that means the cost goes up. But then, from a modelling perspective, the cost has to pay off in terms of the return that it generates.”

BVOD: plug and play?

Jain adds that it is his understanding that Cartology and Flybuys ultimately aim to plug into major broadcasters’ on-demand (BVOD) platforms, like 10Play and 7Plus.

If they can make that leap, Reckitt plans to leverage the channels to find out exactly what vast shopper data and logged-in BVOD audiences can deliver. But he thinks routes to market are achievable. 

"You do BVOD in different ways. You either do a direct order or you buy it through a DSP [demand-side platform]," he says. "I think most likely it's going to be [bought through a DSP], it's just that there is going to be a data overlay that comes from Flybuys and Cartology that sits on it – because ultimately the consumer data is theirs."

Either way, he thinks shopper and loyalty-powered BVOD targeting will bring performance to the big screen, dovetailing with Reckitt's mass reach TV baseload: "It's going to be targeted and lot more niche towards consumers," says Jain. "How that happens? That's to be seen." 

A spokesperson for Cartology said BVOD is something the company is "currently exploring", though the TV networks are working up their own plans for a privacy-compliant BVOD marketplace.

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Sam Buckingham-Jones

Deputy Editor

Market Voice

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