Case | HBS Case Collection | June 2014

Going Social: Durex in China

by Mikolaj Jan Piskorski and Aaron Smith

Abstract

When Reckitt Benckiser (RB), a leading consumer goods company, first entered China, it encountered significant challenges. RB's strategy relied on selling high margin products supported by cost-effective advertising and distribution, but the highly competitive Chinese market made it hard to sustain high margins, inflated television advertising rates made marketing expensive, and an inefficient distribution system increased costs further. In 2010, RB managed to overcome these constraints for one of its brands, Durex, the best-selling condom brand in the world, by leveraging Chinese social media platforms and investing in offline and online distribution. The new strategy paid off—Durex condom sales increased threefold in China and market share increased by over 10%. RB now wanted to generate the same results for its other brands in the country, and needed to decide how to balance investments in offline distribution, social media campaigns, and e-commerce in order to keep growing not just in China, but in other emerging markets as well.

Keywords: Distribution; Multinational Firms and Management; Internet; Marketing Communications; Brands and Branding; Consumer Products Industry; China;

Citation:

Piskorski, Mikolaj Jan, and Aaron Smith. "Going Social: Durex in China." Harvard Business School Case 714-430, June 2014.