Roberto Pescatori, Marketing Director of RB Health: «The major difficulty today is to differentiate and stay noticeable»
Facing an upcoming Brand Day 2019 where ADV is hosting pharma section «Differentiation in Pharmaceutics 2.0: How to Keep Growing on Stagnating Market», Valeriy Reshetnikov (Head of ADV Pharma) and Anastasia Ozerova (Havas Media Account Director) met RB Marketing & Media Team: Roberto Pescatori (RB Health Marketing Director), Andrey Romanenkov (RB Health Category Manager), Tatyana Kizilova (RB Media Manager) to discuss the potential of digital disruption in consumer engagement and importance of building brand trust and consumer loyalty.
Roberto, you are the first Marketing Director we interview in our project who has a strong international career. How long have you been staying in Russia? What was your career path in Marketing and what it took you to become a Marketing Director?
Roberto: I’ve been in Russia since May 2017. My career path in RB is pretty simple, I started in RB as an intern in 2007 in France and then went through a global career path as Junior Manager, Brand Manager, Senior Manager, Category Manager in France, then moved to UK as Global Brand Manager and afterwards become Marketing Director here in Russia for Durex brand, and later Marketing Director for all RB Health brands in Russia and CIS.
How would you describe the difference between Russian consumers of RB healthcare and international ones? Are there any similarities?
Roberto: There are a lot of differences and similarities at the same time. I’d start with similarity: as all global consumers, Russians are looking more and more into the quality of the product. This is consistent for Russia and all global markets. The difference I’d say specifically in OTC is that Russian consumers are very involved in the category: they don’t stop at product claim but they want to have deep understanding of how the product works in details. Another thing is that they are much more digitally savvy than those of other markets. If I compare Russia to Italy as an example, Russia would be in a different league from a digital perspective – it’s much more developed.
Tatyana: On average our Russian consumer is also younger than that in Europe. The ability to buy is tightly connected to personal income and in Russia, unfortunately, the older you are, the lower your income is, which is not always the case in Europe. Here in Russia our target audience tends to be a little bit younger (somewhat 5-10 years younger depending on the category). Also, in Russia people are less prone to visit doctors for advice, being self-reliant and demonstrating the “I know better” mindset in choosing pharmaceutical products. This is why full disclosure of how the solution works is even more important. This behavior is not very typical for other markets. When it comes to similarities, I think that people all over the world are looking for the solution that is safe, fast and effective. In many markets people are also looking for reliability therefore, company reputation is important.
Andrey: I’d like to add that brand trust is very important for Russian consumers also coming from product market specifics – in Russia there are a lot of multi-active ingredient products in top market players (vs. Europe with mono-active ingredient products mostly dominating) and Russian consumer don’t even have a chance to remember the composition and assess its effectiveness. So Russian consumers simply relying on the brand and thus, it’s very important to build and drive brand trust.
Do you see any slowdown on the market in general or in the segments RB is actively present? If yes, what are the root causes for it?
Roberto: The answer is yes, but it’s very complex in nature. Firstly, last year we had a lack in seasonality with less flue cases, but secondly, there is an overall macroeconomic situation characterized by economic and political changes influencing consumer behaviors. I’d say that even in such complex environment all good quality products are performing really well. If you are offering a good product with a strong brand and trust from consumer side, it will grow.
Tatyana: This year market research shows that consumers started to economize on pharmaceutical products, we see market decrease in volume for the first time since 2015. During the previous economic slowdown consumers used to cut consumption for other categories of consumer goods, not economizing on their health. Nowadays we see that consumers clearly buy pharmaceutical products less often, but when they do buy them, they choose the top-quality products – because market is still a bit growing in value.
What is a success formula of RB portfolio?
Roberto: We have a portfolio of very strong brands. Excellent and quality products with different price points that satisfy consumer needs in the best possible way.
How efficient trade marketing campaigns are nowadays? Have they significantly changed over time in your opinion?
Roberto: I think that engagement with the pharma channel is extremely important. What is changing nowadays it’s more competition in trade marketing campaigns, promo campaigns, recommendations. The major difficulty today is to differentiate and stay noticeable. Consistency in messaging is a key point: it’s not just about pharmacies any more, your message should be the same on TV, digital and other channels. In highly competitive environment your message should be very clear and consistent.
How in you view media interaction with consumers transformed industry-wise and in your company?
Tatyana: Interaction is a proper term indeed, as it’s not a one-way communication. Our media mix is complex and is evolving with the consumer. On top to reach-building communication via TV and online video we also have special projects, engaging activities in social media, performance marketing campaigns, etc. We live in a consumer market; thus, we have to profoundly understand what consumers do and what they need, to transform our business accordingly. This is why our media approach is very flexible, depending on what we see on the market, and we constantly back it up with consumer behavior research.
Roberto: We went away from times when consumers were absorbing everything that was pushed to them by companies in a top-down manner to the reality where consumers are deciding what to listen to and what to accept or not accept from companies. Consumers are producing media of their own as we have bloggers, lots of content is generated by end customers which gives them a lot of power. This is fantastic! It requires us to adapt and engage with consumer making sure our brands are part of their lives not because we are imposing it but because they are choosing us to be their life companion.
Do you feel like digital effectiveness is becoming more crucial for your media placement in your brand segments? And how does it change over time?
Tatyana: In most of our campaigns we need to quickly build reach, so we opt for TV channels. But when we want to engage with customers and lead them to later stages in purchase funnel, we switch to digital channels, with all their variety. Digital allows us to have precise targeting to have effective communication with various segments, and we widely use data available on the market to make our advertising relevant and timely.
Roberto: I think that another key point is the “learning by doing” mentality. Previously it was very simple because of the large share of TV, but now we also have a wide variety of different digital activities (though TV is still very important). Digital is a new territory for us and consumers and we need to be open and try new things and learn from them.
We’ve talked already that Russian consumers like to choose by themselves, but as e-commerce in pharma category grows, it seems that it’s also changing how people choose what pharma products to buy. Do you feel that it will influence your media strategy too?
Tanya: Yes, sure, we’ll be using more of what is called performance marketing approach based on CPA mechanics — everything that makes people not just understand the values of our products but also make a real purchase.
Roberto: Fully agree on the above. And also focus on educational aspect is important. In a world where consumer can go and buy directly from e-commerce there is no more interaction with the pharmacist. Thus, we loose additional point of expertise where advice can be provided. It puts more responsibility on our shoulders to work with these e-commerce sources (web-sites) to deliver the right content and make sure that consumer is making the choice based on relevant information.
What recent special projects are you most proud of?
Andrey: This is the third year that we are continuing with our amazing Nurofen for Children special project called ‘Fairy Tales’, that we have created together with Soyuz-Multfilm. The insight is very clear and highly resonates with every mom. Once a child has a pain or fever, mum needs to pay his attention out of the problem before the medicine starts to work. We are not only providing Nurofen for children starting to work in 15 minutes but also most engaging, entertaining, unique and personalized content – fairy tales and cartoons from trusted Soyuz-Multfilm – to watch together with child and shift their attention while pain and fever are going away. This project is very effective – we see loyalty to our product grow with this project — and we see the potential of bringing it to the new level. Another project I am proud of is for Strepsils, where together with Havas Media we have created a predictive model that allows us to launch campaigns exactly when and where the cold & flue epidemics start. It doesn’t just tell us that the epidemic started two weeks ago – it tells us that it’s about to start, so we can run ads in media that need prior booking, like TV for example, right when it actually starts.
Roberto: I’d add another two. First one is Durex and the way we started to talk to younger consumers – first with our emoji stickers and then with the evolution of this campaign – our Doodle activity with a new packaging. It’s a fantastic story coming from our group on VK social network, where we started from 0.5 mln people as our followers to building it up to 3 mln people. It’s a great achievement which means that 3 mln people are engaged into discussions about sex on a daily basis. The more openly they talk about sex, the more willing they become to talk about contraception, and the less exposed they are to AIDS, HIV and abortion. We are establishing a discussion with consumers in a very natural way. The second one is also related to Durex – it’s our partnership with KHL. We had a fantastic sponsorship to leverage KHL to raise awareness about very serious topics such as HIV. It’s tricky to talk about HIV, and I think we managed to talk about it in the right way to raise awareness and to push people to understand the problem and to act to avoid it. It’s a very purpose-driven project which I’m extremely proud of.
Let’s switch from Media topics to other channels of brand promotion. How the role of Med representative has been transformed in the past 3 years?
Roberto: I think it changed a lot, the way we are interacting with doctors and pharmacists. They all are people leaving in a dynamic environment and the way Medical representatives contact and interact with them should be more open, as well as messages need to be better adapted. Doctors and pharmacists have less time to deal with information coming their way in huge amounts. The goal is to reach HCPs in the best way.
Before going into digitalization of interaction with HCPs, other things need to be considered: the competition has been increasing and the amount of information HCPs receive is much bigger than ever before, thus, we need to find new, innovative ways to deliver it. It should be more interactive, more engaging – not just talking, but more interesting content to capture their attention. Today besides F2F contacts we need to use more digital platforms and channels, calls, webinars, quizzes, etc.
What potentials and advantages of Omni Channel Marketing (OCM) would you name for large target audiences in the Russian environment (vast territory of the country, large distances between urban clusters)? How will it impact business KPIs?
Roberto: Advantages are clear, in Russia we cannot leave OCM out of our business. First is coverage. Russia is a huge country, thus, even having an army of Med representatives there is no chance to cover all HCPs in efficient way. The second point here is frequency: either you are opting for a broader coverage falling short of frequency or vice versa you merge OCM campaigns to improve the situation. And the third point is with OCM you can adapt the content and even the timing to the schedules of relevant groups of HCPs. We need to adapt to them to deliver the message effectively.
What are the major challenges you are facing in your everyday work? What inspires you the most?
Roberto: The major challenge I’d say is that Russia is a country of possibilities. There are plenty of opportunities, the market is very dynamic, very challenging, allowing you to go any direction. The challenge is to define every day which direction you want to take and where you don’t want to go (that is even more tricky). What inspires me every day is the fact that we have so many categories in our portfolio that require us to switch from one discussion to another. And the pleasure to have those discussions every day with very brilliant people that I have in my team.
What are the tips you’d share with a newcomer dreaming about Marketing Director career in your company?
Roberto: I’d say that you need to be entrepreneurial. In RB environment everything is possible. Having right data and good proposition is a key. Secondly, keeping the consistency of the strategy is important – Russia is very dynamic market; thus, you need to select one strategy and stay very loyal to it. You cannot change every day even if sometimes it could be very tempting. Thirdly, you need to leverage the team, not only Marketing team, but also cross-functional team. Building the team spirit is critical for the success.