EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW – Finish – lifting dishwasher detergents to ‘sparkling’ new heights

RBs Finish brand has been at the forefront of dishwasher detergent products for over 60 years. It is one of the UK’s top brands, regularly on our TV screens and supported by one of the biggest FMCG advertisers. Globally Finish is the world’s number one brand for autodish products, and the number one machine manufacturer-recommended dishwasher detergent.

40676_0006a---Jerome-LemaireInnovation has been a feature of Finish history from its introduction and it has been at the forefront of every innovation in dishwasher care to date, starting with the evolution from powder to tabs, and the development of ancillary products from basic tablets, to the introduction of Powerball and combination tablets and more recently gel-covered tabs. Time and time again Finish has found new ways to keep moving the category forward through consumer-driven product innovations, based on the underlying belief that growing the category builds the business for both manufacturer and retailer.

The most recent innovation is the Finish Power & Pure range, available in both Quantum and All in One variants which tap into the growing concern felt by many consumers that while they do not want to give up the performance they value, do want to cut down on the chemicals used in the home.

Jerome Lemaire, Marketing Director of RB UK, spoke to The Grocery Trader.

The Grocery Trader – First of all, Jerome, as Marketing Director at RB UK, are you personally involved in developing brands like Finish and working with major retailers to develop the dishwasher detergent category? Who else is in the Finish UK marketing team?

JL: RB is very much a marketing led company and the team here in the UK is involved in NPD at all stages.  Our Category Manager and the brand team have been working on Finish Power & Pure for many months before bringing it to the retailer. As UK Marketing Director I have oversight across all the RB brand portfolio – but Finish is one of our Powerbrands and I would always stay close to the team.

GT – How important are dishwasher detergents as a category within the RB UK product portfolio?

JL: As a market leader Finish is the main driving force for growth in the dishwasher detergents category. Within RB Finish is one of our Global 19 Powerbrands and receives high levels of investment in development and marketing to keep moving the category forward and produce consistent growth. For us it is about listening to our consumers and pushing the boundaries to continue to develop products that satisfy consumers and grow the brand and the business

We want to continue to respond to consumer needs and provide choice across the category. Our latest launch, Finish Power & Pure is a good illustration of this.

GT – When was Finish first launched here?

JL: Finish was first launched in 1953 initially in the US and then in the UK as dishwasher penetration increased. There have followed a long line of industry ‘firsts’ from the introduction of biological powder in 1969 to the introduction of the first dual layer tablet in 1995, the famous red Powerball in 1999 and the first three chamber capsule.

Finish is sold in over 40 countries across the globe.

Finish_Gonzo_AiO_32_more3DGT – Where do you develop your dishwasher detergent brands for the UK?

JL: Our main R&D centre for Finish is at our state of the art research centre in Germany. The team there work closely with both global and country marketing teams throughout the development process. We know that one of the most important factors to producing the best and most effective products is through understanding our consumers and how they work in their kitchens and use their dishwashers and what they want to see in the future.

GT – After all these years, how easy is it for your R&D people to come up with further fresh innovation in automated dishwasher detergents?

JL: RB is great at ideas generation! New ideas come from all over the place – and it is important to be open to new thoughts and to be able to see opportunities and then be able turn that into new products. Behind everything we do is that overriding desire to continue to grow the category – here and globally through great products that deliver for our consumers.

GT – How big is the UK automated dishwasher detergent category in value and volume? How does this compare with the washing up liquid category? How do you compare the demographics of dishwasher detergents and washing up liquid in the UK?

JL: The primary driver of category size is dishwasher penetration. That figure is rising, but still lower here in the UK than in more mature markets such as the USA and parts of northern Europe. Penetration here is around 41.3% which allows plenty of scope – and is one of the reasons that RB works so closely with machine manufacturers to drive penetration.

Consumer education is essential to counter the perceptions that still exist that machines as expensive to own and run – which of course is not the case.

GT – Mintel said in 2010 that the running costs of dishwashers were ‘a concern’ to a large proportion of households. Have things changed since then? Are dishwashers now perceived as more economical and efficient to run than they were, especially for smaller households?

JL: Yes, this is changing – for households of all sizes. There are three main concerns to machine purchase: the first is ‘space’, is there room in the kitchen for a machine; the second is ‘cost’ and consumers are very surprised to find that the cost is around 37p per cycle in total; the third concern is that of water use – and of course machines actually use less water, about a third of that used when washing dishes by hand.

Finish_Gonzo_Quantum_27_more3DGT – Finish is the number one dishwasher detergent recommended by manufacturers. Do you work with the dishwasher manufacturers to help them improve machine performance?

JL: We are working closely with the machine manufacturers such as Bosch to reach consumers with all of the messages I have talked of – on space, cost and resources – to demonstrate the difference a dishwasher can make in the home and savings in time, cost and water usage.

In addition Finish also has partnerships with companies such as Dartington Glass, quality glass makers, who want to be connected with the brand because of its reputation and to demonstrate that in this day and age even special occasion glass and tableware is safe. Working with companies such as Bosch and Dartington helps us to understand the wider picture and again this feeds into the NPD to get the best products to consumers and continue to drive the category forward.

GT – What prompted the development of the new Finish Power & Pure range?

JL: As we have discussed, as a market leading brand, Finish seeks to drive the growth of the category by consistently bringing innovation to the consumer. We produce a range of SKUs from the traditional Finish Classic through to our very popular All in One and our premium Quantum products. Listening to consumers we were able to identify a group of consumers who were not being directly addressed – namely those who, while very happy with the performance of their dishwasher detergent, really wanted us to address how we could help them lower their chemical usage in the home.

GT – So how have you responded?

JL: The challenge was to produce a product that answered this need while at the same time delivering the ‘clean and shine’ that these users were used to. With Finish Power & Pure, which harnesses the power of ‘active oxygen’ to boost its cleaning performance, we were able to achieve the level of performance that these consumers wanted but with fewer chemicals. It is ‘wrapper free’ and in a re-sealable pack, not a box. It’s a totally new approach to dishwasher detergent effectiveness, and gives consumers real choice when choosing their dishwasher detergent – choice with the confidence of a great result.

GT – How do you predict Finish Power & Pure will do?

JL: We are very excited by this innovative new range and being able to offer improved choice to consumers. This is an addition to the premium end of the category and has been carefully developed in response to a need that consumers have communicated to us. Finish Power & Pure improves choice and provides an opportunity to drive category growth. This innovation is totally consumer driven and in trials has been very positively received. We feel that there is a real market for this product range.

GT – Is Finish Power & Pure now available nationally?

JL: Yes, it is. Finish Power & Pure was launched in January and now has national distribution.

GT – Which other countries is it on sale in? How is it doing there?

JL: The launch in the UK is part of the global roll out and so far Finish Power & Pure available in several markets including the USA and mainland Europe. As with the UK, the initial results are very encouraging.

GT – How does Finish Power & Pure fit in with the other Finish products? And what about variants pack sizes and cost?

JL: Finish Power & Pure is available in Quantum and All in One SKUs and sits at the premium end of the total Finish range. It offers additional choice for consumers and provides stimulation to the category. It is priced as a premium product to deliver choice and performance for the premium purchaser.

image001[7]GT – What specific advertising and promotion are you putting behind Finish Power & Pure?

JL: RB is known for the way it supports its brands. This launch from Finish is a significant one and will be promoted and supported accordingly. The main marketing activity kicks off in February and will include significant levels of support – its an £xm campaign embracing TV and digital, social media and in-store/OOH activity. Consumers will be aware of Finish Power & Pure.

GT – Are you promoting Finish and new Finish Power & Pure through new media?

JL: Digital has become increasingly important and consequently an increasingly larger percentage of our total marketing investment. Currently RB is the number three TV advertiser in the UK and already number one in OLVs. Our viewing habits are changing and advertising changes with that. It is now essential to be able to reach our consumers through the channels that they prefer to use. One of the most successful online activities in the last year has been the work we have done with food bloggers who have enjoyed learning about and using Finish as they prepare their recipes and reports.

GT – You said earlier that the real battle in this market is growing the overall category. What initiatives are you carrying out in store to promote dishwasher detergent sales in general and grow the category?

JL: To grow a category you have to have quality products, real consumer choice and regular innovation to stimulate interest. So essentially it starts on the shelf and is supported by the in store activations. We recognise the importance of creating excitement at POS and Finish Power & Pure will have a strong in-store activation programme.

GT – What is the state of play of the UK’s dishwasher detergent fixtures? Are the supermarkets, Co-ops and convenience store chains merchandising these products to best effect, in terms of generating sales? As the category leaders, are you helping them to improve things?

JL: The way to win is always about having the right products in the right place and good POS is important in all channels. The major retailers invest in ensuring layouts optimise footfall patterns – but it is less easy for the smaller retailer and merchandising effectively can be a real challenge. For the smaller store the advice would be to place with complementary categories – including ancillary products such as dishwasher cleaner, rinse aid and salt, other kitchen, cleaning and laundry products for example to encourage cross-purchasing and to try to present a small choice where space is limited. Rather like those aspirational magazines that show homes and décor that we could never emulate but can use for inspiration, small retailers should learn from activations and product placement such as this when working on their own smaller space.

RB

Tel: 01482 326151

www.rb.com

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