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Meet our innovators: Michaela Kuhndoerfer

We caught up with Global eCommerce Innovation Director Michaela Kuhndoerfer about what innovation means to her.

12 Jul 20213 minute read

The world is ever changing, and so are our consumers. How do we keep up?

Innovation is embedded in our DNA. Throughout our heritage, it’s played an important role in the story of our brands and the lives of our people. Our innovations and our innovators have made us the company we are today.

This week we caught up with Michaela Kuhndoerfer, Global eCommerce Innovation Director, Hygiene, to find out why data and insights, customer centric communication, and staying ahead of the curve are at the foundation of innovation.

Tell us a little more about you…

I first joined Reckitt more than 10 years ago as a finance controller, before making the move into the marketing department.

It was in January 2018 that I started in my first Global Innovation role. Since then, I have spent time working together with stakeholders from Quality, Regulatory, Research and Development, and Supply to create Innovation pipelines for Lysol and Air Wick.

What does Innovation mean to you?

To me, Innovation means to challenge and improve the status quo.

The great thing about innovation is that it can come from a wide range of sources and has many faces. From improved, consumer centric communication of an existing product, to the development of an NPD – anything is possible.

Inspiration can hit you when shopping at your local supermarket, browsing the web, talking to friends, sitting in a focus group, or even wandering the lavender fields in France with your fragrance partners – something I was lucky to experience during my team with the Global Air Wick team.

How do you succeed in innovation?

The world is ever changing, and so are our consumers. A product can be relevant one day and out of date the next. This is nothing new, but with growing digitalisation it has become obvious that product lifetimes have shortened.

We need to stay ahead of the curve; listening to consumers, deciding on what comes next, and how our purpose can lead the way. All of this is enabled by up-to-date insights and data, as well as the courage of a business to be the first ones to lead the way.

What innovations do you admire?

Bearing the last year and a half in mind, I would say the greatest innovation of all time is vaccinations.

The past has proven that vaccinations are responsible for eradicating diseases and extending the human lifespan. The development of vaccinations was, again, based on lots of data, clear “consumer” needs, a purpose, and massive courage.

What’s next for innovation?

I firmly believe that the foundation of all innovation is, and will remain, data and insights, combined with our purpose.

That said, a large, ongoing change is the evaluation of our innovation ideas. We would previously evaluate focused on traditional trade and consumers. However, with eCommerce on the rise, we make sure online is at the heart of our testing to ensure eCommerce first innovation.

What do you believe is Reckitt’s greatest innovation?

One innovation that shows how data, insights and purpose are going hand in hand was launched whilst I was working in the local marketing department for Germany, Austria and Switzerland – Sagrotan Kids. The local team deep dived into consumer data, which showed a challenge for parents to motivate their kids to wash their hands properly. Together with various stakeholders the brand developed a hand soap range dedicated to children

‘Innovation’ may start with an idea. But it has the potential to change the world. In order to deliver on our strategy for rejuvenating sustainable growth, we need to challenge ‘the norm’ and ‘think big’ when it comes to innovation. Together, we’re charting an exciting course for our future.