08 Aug 2020 22:14 IST

‘Dettol co-created with Moms’: Driving customer-centric innovation

Working with millennial mothers, Reckitt Benckiser India created a product range that meets their demands

Reckitt Benckiser (India) Ltd. (RB India), a well-established player in the Indian personal care and antiseptics market, launched the ‘Dettol Co-Created with Moms’ range in mid-2019 to increase its share in India’s soap market. The product range was exclusively targeted at young, well-informed, and digitally-savvy millennial Indian mothers who sought safe personal care products for their families.

To understand the evolving needs of the target group, the company interviewed 800 mothers across India and created a product range that addressed their unmet demands. The company also tweaked the proposition of its marketing communications to appeal to the contemporary Indian millennial mother, varying it from the core proposition that always focused on hygiene.

Reasons for co-creating a product category

Dettol was a well-established brand in India with its products available across the length and breadth of the country and as of 2019, Dettol’s share in the Indian soap market stood at around 10 per cent. To further capitalise on the brand equity, RB India conducted in-house market research, which recommended greater focus on the personal care products space.

In line with Dettol’s vision of reaching every Indian household and protecting it from germs, RB India needed to continuously innovate and identify new market opportunities by understanding the unmet demands of consumers and identifying current and upcoming market trends. Its focus on continuous innovations was also in line with its strategy to create niche products. In light of the high demand for personal care products, RB India decided to get insights from the Indian mother, who is usually the key decision-maker in the family.

Target group and their awareness levels

RB India decided to target the young, well-informed, digitally-savvy millennial mothers. Unlike the baby-boomer and generation X mothers, who bought personal care products without paying much attention to their ingredients, the company’s market research found that millennial mothers were very discerning when purchasing personal care products and had a better understanding of a product’s ingredients.

Consequently, this group was also the sternest critic of personal care brands. To address the needs of this consumer segment, RB India decided to co-create the new products with them. Moreover, through the new range, RB India wanted to delight Indian consumers and further increase their interest in the Dettol brand by sharing the underlying product science with them.



Market research to understand needs of millennial moms

To get a better understanding of the needs of Indian millennial mothers, RB India surveyed 800 mothers over a period of two years (around 2017-2019). The survey comprised a list of around 100 commonly used soap ingredients and their respective features and functionalities. Next, the mothers were asked to select ingredients they preferred from this exhaustive list and to give reasons for their preferences and recommendations.

Through the survey, RB India understood that Indian millennial mothers were interested in personal care products from Dettol that were free from harmful ingredients and had a lower percentage of chemicals. However, they were unwilling to compromise on the germ-fighting capabilities that brand Dettol was known for. The market research exercise helped create a new product range – the ‘Dettol Co-created with Moms’ range of bathing soaps and hand-washes. The development and launch of this range was guided by brand Dettol’s vision and business strategies.

The ‘Mystery-Reveal Campaign’

RB India came up with an innovative marketing strategy for ‘Dettol Co-Created with Moms’ to highlight the distinctiveness of the new product range. To pique the interest of consumers and nudge people into buying these new products, RB India adopted a ‘mystery-reveal campaign’ that was primarily carried out through social media platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. Conventional advertising platforms such as television commercials and outdoor advertisements were used to support the ‘mystery-reveal campaign’.

The marketing campaign was designed to surprise consumers as RB India’s management felt that an element of surprise was essential to highlight the uniqueness of the new Dettol range and to quickly gain traction from Indian mothers for the new proposition from Dettol. To aid in this process, the mystery-reveal campaign also illustrated the story behind the making of ‘Dettol Co-Created with Moms’.

RB India kicked off the marketing campaign on June 2, 2019, with the hashtag ‘#themommandate’ on leading social media channels such as Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. The campaign started off with a video in which three young mothers urged other mothers to vote for ingredients that they would like to have in an upcoming line of personal care products. The video ended with a call to action wherein mothers were urged to visit the website https://www.momspresso.com/mom-mandate/ to vote for the ingredients they desired in the products. Voting lines on the website were kept open from June 3 to June 5.

For the first phase, RB India roped in, among others, well-known celebrity, blogger, and influencer mothers, who gave their opinions on social media and urged other mothers to have their say on the website. In the second phase from June 6 to June 8, RB India sent out unbranded samples of the products in boxes titled #MysteryBox to over 200 mothers, including celebrities, asking them to try out the products and guess the name of the brand. Three videos were also launched on June 6, to communicate that mothers across India had voted for personal care products that were free from parabens, talc, and dyes. The videos had brief glimpses of soaps and handwash in plain packaging that hinted about the upcoming products.

The ‘Dettol Co-Created with Moms’ range was finally launched on June 10, at glittering ceremonies in cities across India. Celebrity, blogger, and influencer mothers revealed the brand name hidden under the label of the #MysteryBox.

The company claimed that over 30,000 mothers had participated in #themommandate and voted for their choice of ingredients. It also claimed that the mystery-reveal campaign had reached millions of people across India and generated millions of conversations, exceeding the company’s expectations by far. Further, the tie-up with well-known celebrity and influencer mothers helped drive consumer conversations and increased the brand equity of ‘Dettol Co-Created with Moms’. Post the product launch, RB India advertised the new products through both social media and TV commercials.



Long-term strategic investment?

‘The Dettol Co-Created with Moms’ range was conceived to build a future-proof product portfolio for Dettol in India. RB India viewed the new range of products as a long-term strategic investment that would deliver good returns over the years. The company planned to strengthen the product range in terms of brand equity and sales before gradually expanding it to other lucrative, money-spinner categories.

The Analysis

New-product development is essential for the survival of businesses in competitive markets. The launch of new, improved products on a regular basis not only contributes to sales growth but also transforms entire industries. Companies that disrupt conventional business practices are generally successful in engaging and delighting consumers.

RB India created and launched the ‘Dettol Co-Created With Moms’ range of soaps and liquid hand-washes to increase the market share of brand Dettol in India. The unique ways that RB India adopted to create a new range of personal care products and market them enabled the company to engage and delight millennial mothers, its primary target group of consumers.

Different ways of generating ideas

Companies can generate ideas for new product development by

1) Interacting with employees

2) Interacting with outsiders such as customers, commercial and university laboratories, patent attorneys, engineers, scientists, marketing and advertisement agencies, and industrial publications and consultants

3) Studying competitors

Today, consumers are well-connected and well-informed on account of rising Internet connectivity in most parts of the world. Armed with knowledge and cutting-edge connectivity, consumers have become very discerning and are sharing their product experiences with their peers. Further, these knowledgeable consumers are eager to interact with companies and co-create products and services that address unmet needs and wants.

Old and new frames of reference

Companies can no longer afford to create products and craft marketing messages using the traditional frames of reference without engaging consumers (C. K. Prahalad and Venkat Ramaswamy, 2004). As per the Traditional Frame of Reference for Value Creation, companies work on the premise that they create value and autonomously determine the value that they will offer through their products. These companies consider consumers merely as ‘demand’ for their products. As a result of these premises, the firm-consumer interface serves as a platform wherein companies extract economic value from consumers. The interface has no functionality other than economic transactions. To extract this value, companies adopt several strategies including new product development and offering custom-made products. Consequently, the managers of these companies focus on value chains, quality of internal process, innovation of products, and demand management.

On the other hand, as per the New Frame of Reference for Value Creation, consumers and companies co-create value. Hence, the co-creation experience becomes the basis of value, and consumers are central to the co-creation experience. Unlike the traditional frame of reference, the interaction between consumers and companies is the platform of co-creation of value and not just a medium for economic transactions. The new frame of reference requires companies to develop several co-creation experiences as millions of consumers will seek different types of interaction. Further, companies must focus on personalising the co-creation experiences for better output and insights. As a result, under the new frame of reference, managers must focus not only on the products and processes but also on the co-creation experiences. Moreover, they must innovate on the experience environments to create diverse co-creation experiences.

The benefits of co-creation with consumers are:

· Increased probability of developing and launching blockbuster products

· Direct interaction between consumers and companies, leading to improvements in product quality

· Greater consumer satisfaction

· Better brand positioning

· Higher product sales, as customers are attracted to them naturally

· Increased word of mouth marketing by consumers

· Better understanding of market trends and megatrends (Anupam Krishna and Sunishtha Dhaka, 2013)

Develop effective communication

Effective communication is critical for a marketer. Companies use marketing communication to educate, inform, urge, and apprise consumers – directly or indirectly – about their products, solutions, and brands. It represents the voice of a company and its brands, and helps the company to connect its brands with people, places, experiences, events, and emotions. There are various steps involved in developing effective communications. They are: identify the target audience, determine communication objectives, design the communications, select channels, establish a budget, decide on the media mix, measure results, and manage the integrated marketing communications mix.

For RB India, well-off millennial mothers were the target audience for its communications campaign. The company then had to decide on the objectives of its communications campaign, design the communications, and select channels and the media mix. RB India’s campaign intended to establish the need for category, build brand awareness and attitude, and influence brand purchase intention (John R. Rossiter and Larry Percy, 1997).

Establish need for category

The marketing campaign must drive home the point that the new product or service category is necessary to satisfy the unmet needs of consumers. The ‘#themommandate’ marketing campaign for the new ‘Dettol Co-Created with Moms’ range clearly met this communication objective.



Build brand awareness

This implies enabling consumers to recall or recognise brand names. The ‘mystery-reveal campaign’ met this communicative objective by not revealing the new product range and its attributes at once. The campaign was designed to surprise consumers as RB India’s management felt that an element of surprise was essential to highlight the uniqueness of the new Dettol range and to quickly gain traction from Indian mothers for the new proposition from Dettol. The surprise element helped build brand awareness.

Build brand attitude

This involves enabling consumers to assess the brand’s ability to address their needs. As brand Dettol had been synonymous with germ protection since its inception in India in 1933, RB India had to only prove to millennial mothers that the new range of products were free from ingredients that were harsh on the skin and imparted a strong artificial smell to products.

Influence brand purchase intention

This relates to nudging consumers to purchase the products. When celebrity, blogger, and influencer mothers revealed the brand name hidden under the label of the #MysteryBox, they also provided the link for purchasing the products on Amazon. Thereby, RB India provided a call to action within the digital campaign.

(Jitesh Nair is Research Faculty, and Vasudev Bitra is Research Associate, at IBS Case Research Center.)