Game-changers: product innovation that lifts the business

Click here to read the cover feature: a profile of Camillo Pane, Reckitt Benckiser’s UK chief
Click here to read a Q+A with Camillo Pane
Click here to read what other marketers have to say to Camillo Pane


Optrex ActiMist:

Most of the products in this market were drops, which consumers find difficult to use. There wasn’t a lot of innovation in this category and most products were priced between £2 and £4. We came up with Optrex ActiMist, a product that you spray onto your closed eyes from about 5cm. It penetrates through the closed eyelids, refreshes you and aids dry eyes.

In the UK we launched this for £14.99, a breakthrough in the market that moved our share from about 44% to 57%. The market grew for the first time in years and is still growing at around 15-20%.


Bonjela Complete Plus: Bonjela has always been a gel that you apply to a mouth ulcer with a dirty finger. We

created a format of the product that comes in a jar and is applied with a small brush. 

The product launched in the summer and has already delivered a 6% market growth and 500 basis points of share.


Airwick Freshmatic:

The air freshener category was dominated by aerosol cans until we launched Airwick Freshmatic. We have the base freshmatic, which squirts at fixed intervals, and one with a motion sensor, which senses you passing nearby and releases fragrance when you are near.

I worked on the launch around the world when I was global category manager of healthcare. The idea came from a brand manager in Korea. He came to us with the idea of taking something that is largely for commercial and public bathrooms and making it for mass markets. We tested it with consumers and received fantastic results in the two key markets of the UK and France. We brought it to the EC in February 2004 and it was in Tesco by September 2004.

This changed the entire category. It had never been done. If you open up the unit you’ll see it contains wires, batteries, sensors, lights and a different type of aerosol. This would have taken maybe two years to go from idea to shelf elsewhere.

Four months after we launched it in the UK we were in 60 countries and Airwick Freshmatic now accounts for 15% of the total global air freshener market.

At the time there was no air freshener in the world selling for more than £5, $5 or €5. We launched this at £9.99. We intentionally doubled the price. The message was that this is a high end, premium product. Consumers loved it. They could set the timings. This is one of our biggest successes and it took us six months to put on shelf. It was a lot of work and required us to build an entirely new factory in China, but you can get things done that quickly if the entire company is behind it.


Dettol No-Touch Handwash: The liquid soap you often find in domestic bathrooms tends to come with a base pump. Innovation [in this area]

had mostly concerned new fragrances or a different shape of the bottle and so on. We wanted to provide something new. The problem we identified was that so many dirty hands touch the bottle pump that bacteria spreads easily.

We came up with a battery operated automatic soap dispenser. This was an idea from the global team that was launched in the UK four months ago. [Before the launch] Dettol had 2% of share in the liquid hand soap market. We’re now the number two brand in the market with almost 16% of share.

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