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10/18/2021

How Reckitt ID’d $2M+ in New Product Demand & Drove 81% Incremental Sales Lift

Lisa Johnston
Senior Editor
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Navigating an ever-shifting wave of consumer demand is nothing new for Mucinex, the Reckitt-owned provider of cold and flu relief products.

Even before COVID-19 instigated an industrywide game of strategy whack-a-mole, the timing, severity and location of seasonal illness has always varied wildly from year to year, Sumie Mahbubani, Reckitt business insights leads for upper respiratory, tells CGT. As a result, access to early and reliable forecasting is paramount for healthcare brands.   

“Seasonal illness and its fluctuations are a key driver for our business,” she notes, “and we need an accurate illness forecast to drive nearly all aspects of our business strategy.”   

In order to increase its ability to forecast where and when illness starts and spreads so it can better predict consumer demand at retail and prevent stockouts, the No. 37 consumer goods company teamed with health tech provider Kinsa.

[See also: Retaining the New Consumer Through Technology]

Kinsa’s technology leverages early illness data from its network of smart thermometers to provide a 12-week forecast, in turn helping Reckitt understand the severity of expected season. With this insight, Reckitt can more accurately forecast demand for Mucinex products, as well as set internal sales targets, optimize its supply chain, and better collaborate with retail partners by advising them on their seasonal demand.

And though timing and intensity of seasonal illness may have always been unpredictable, COVID-19 only served to widen the gap. What’s more, pandemic-prompted behavior changes — such as masking, social distancing, quarantining and virtual school/work — significantly reduced the prevalence of other contagious illnesses, Mahbubani says, leading to what she describes as a historically mild cough, cold and flu season in 2020 and 2021.

“We urge our industry to not rely on instincts, especially after an anomaly of a year we just had, and use all tools available to gain the necessary insight to optimize supply chain, meet demand, and help keep communities safe and healthy.”
Sumie Mahbubani, business insights leads for upper respiratory, Reckitt

In order to operate through this confluence of challenges, Reckitt now leverages Kinsa’s technology across multiple business functions, including its illness-based media optimization technology to target Mucinex messaging only to areas of rising illness.

“For Mucinex, it has helped us live into our purpose of the health and wellbeing of our community, and that goes beyond relieving cold and flu symptoms and making people feel better when they are sick,” says Mahbubani. “We have made it a priority to help consumers separate fact from fiction during this pandemic, offering expert and science-backed advice from credentialed healthcare professionals.”

Since implementing Kinsa's technology, Reckitt reduced forecasting errors by 50% when compared with using traditional illness retail data sets. It also identified more than $2 million in additional product demand above retail forecasts, and it drove an 81% increase in incremental sales for new-to-brand consumers.

[See also: Supply Chain Execution Playbook 2022]

All of this combines to promote trust among consumers, says Mahbubani, an especially crucial role for consumer goods companies like theirs to play today.  

“As an illness brand, it is our duty to help protect our communities,” she says. “We urge our industry to not rely on instincts, especially after an anomaly of a year we just had, and use all tools available to gain the necessary insight to optimize supply chain, meet demand, and help keep communities safe and healthy.”

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