Reckitt Benkiser feel the need for speed: Marketing Society 3

The next post in the series from the Marketing Society Conference is on the talk by Camillo Pane, UK General Manager of Reckitt Benkiser (RB). This is a company who have achieved impressive and sustained growth, with the market value quadrupling in the last 20 years to £20billion. And my take-out from Camillo's talk is that at the heart of RB's success is a distinctive and effective culture and way of working.

Here are some highlights.

1. Speed to market

RB seem to be quick and relatively agile for what is a big company. Camillo talked of the company's flat structure and streamlined processes. He used the example of Airwick Freshmatic. This air freshener is automated to give a little spray every now and then. RB managed to take this from testing to launch in just 8 months, including building a factory in China. A year later the product was in 60 markets. And this is now a £600million business.

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2. A culture of "follow the money"

RB looks like a company that shares our mantra of "follow the money". People are rewarded for driving growth, with what Camillo described as "disproportionate pay for disproportionate results". This focus on growth means local markets will be quick to search and re-apply successful ideas, even if they didn't invent them. I also liked the description of "constructive conflict". Issues and concerns are aired up-front, rather than festering on for weeks and months, as still seems to happen in some companies. And once a decision is made, the plan is executed. Its a case of "80% agreement, 100% commitment".

3. Encouraging entrepreneurship
RB seems to share with my old employer P&G a belief that good ideas can come from anywhere, whatever their level in the company. Camillo told a great story of a new graduate 4 months into his first job who came up with the idea of a new product for Brasso, a cleaning product used for polishing up cuttlery. The smart new kid on the block suggested a new product for cleaning gadgets like iPhones and iPods. In 4 months he led the creation and launch of the new product, including trade presentations and an online viral video.

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In conclusion, RB is a good example of a company with a clear culture and way of working that supports its growth objectives. And its nice to see that the spirit of "follow the money" can live and thrive in a big multinational like this.