Experimentation helps RB hit the spot with its Durex customers

Reckitt Benckiser (RB) is a British, multinational consumer goods company, producing health, hygiene and home products. It is made up of a growing community of 40,000+ diverse, talented entrepreneurs – all driven to make the world a happier, healthier place. They draw on each other’s skills, working together, to help make people feel better. Through research and development, RB makes better products that empower everyone to take their health into their own hands and homes. The company’s power brands, such as Nurofen, Strepsils and Durex are sold in 180 countries. The organization uses Optimizely Web Experimentation across its UK Durex sites, as a part of the company’s global commitment to experimentation.

Using experimentation to understand audience preference

RB’s goal in the UK was to increase the number of sales across the full range of Durex products on their online portals. Headed up by Amy Vetter, RB’s European Consumer Experience Manager, Direct To Consumer, the team first ran surveys to establish customer pain points and identify areas for testing. The team also took inspiration from what other successful brands were doing, and if they saw something they liked the look of, it was flagged and became another area for experimentation. Optimizely’s functionality facilitated these tests by allowing the team to run several versions of a page or customer journey across multiple regions at once. They could then test and measure responses before committing to long term changes. This proved particularly useful, as some of the strategies that they thought might work, actually proved a miss with Durex customers in the UK, and they were able to shift focus accordingly.


“Optimizely is one of the easiest tools to pick up and learn. Within two days I was up and running and had the first test going.”

Amy Vetter
European Consumer Experience Manager, Direct To Consumer, Europe, Reckitt Benckiser Durex

All that glitters is not gold

An example of this came when the team decided to test out whether they would get better traction using a younger, Kylie Jenner (Kylie Cosmetics) style navigation technique, which would showcase Durex’s best sellers or favourites. The implementation of this actually saw a 6% decrease in revenue, leading the team to realize Durex customers preferred to shop by category, rather than by perceived best sellers or favourites. Another test they tried was a burger menu on desktop, similar to Kylie Skin, which actually saw a 7% decrease in revenue over a 2 week period. Being able to test ideas like this, and quickly change the layout or design if it’s not resonating with consumers, is one of the benefits of experimentation and learning from the failures is arguably as valuable as the tests that do work out.

Equally, when the tests have gone well, the results have proved fruitful. For instance, it was realized that the messages put out on the Durex site needed to be short and sweet, no matter the offer. There was a whopping 32% increase in product page visits and 6% increase in revenue, in just one month, when using shorter lines rather than longer brand messaging headlines. The team also found that having the offers page a different color to the navigation, increased click throughs by 11% over a 10 day period.

Amazon approach not hitting the spot for customers

Having the ability to test like this also helps to categorically prove or disprove assumptions. Just because you might find something easy, engaging or appealing, doesn’t nessasarily mean others will. This has been true for the latest test that the team has run on the Durex site, which saw them adopt an Amazon style, bundle package option. The idea being that if a customer had selected one Durex product, that they would usually have to pay an additional £4.99 postage fee on, a bundle option of other relevant products would be suggested to them. This would then take them over the threshold for free delivery, whilst also suggesting other products related to their initial purchase. However, 1% fewer people actually added anything to their cart when faced with this bundle option and the average order value was 1% lower, with total revenue down 6%.

It is clear that the bundles are not working as it stands, so the next phase in the testing process will see the bundles being changed out for different products, to see if that increases interest. Being able to test and learn like this, has helped the team to understand the Durex customers better, providing the team with the ability to react quickly to what works well and change anything that doesn’t hit the spot.

Sharing the benefits of experimentation

Holding on to successes and learnings that these tests had produced, wouldn’t improve the RB business overall, so the team wanted to ensure that the rest of the business could benefit from their findings. Leading the charge, Amy started producing weekly presentations of their learnings, sending them out across the wider business. Other departments saw the results of the tests the team had been running, and decided to initiate their own experiments in response.

These successes and learnings gave the Durex team widespread visibility, and approval from senior management at RB, which has resulted in them pushing the experimentation envelope even further. To elevate RB’s experimentation program to the next level, they are now looking at multi-variant testing and building out the geographies they are operating in.



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