Lessons for old brands on how to get groove back


urMr Kamlesh Shah (left), the Basco Paints managing director with Mr Mital Shah, Basco Paints director during the launch of the Duracoat antibacterial paint last month. Photo/File

I have always admired soap companies for their marketing ingenuity. Back from the days of Lever Brothers which came up with the idea of powdered soap and thought of the idea as pure wisdom.

And since the owl has always been associated with wisdom they conceptualised the owls head and came up with the name OMO abbreviation for Old Mother Owl.

Long before the introduction of the powdered soap in Kenya, people used to wash clothes in the river.

So to get the people to use the powdered soap the marketers of OMO had to apply some wisdom, they had to get the people out of the river.

They did this by buying basins for some ladies and organising soaking tutorials. Today, we all know how to use powdered soaps; thanks to the tutorials.

Soap manufacturers also developed the concept of soap operas as a way of getting the attention of viewers and market the products to them.

In the recent past, they are investing more in social networks. Proctor and Gamble (P&G) reduced its marketing budget and personnel and argued that advertising through social networks is less costly.

P&G is also credited with the management innovation in the area of brand marketing where they launched competing brands from one company.

When we thought that the soap market is a mature one, the companies have surprised us with new ideas.

Lifebouy which used to be marketed as ‘the soap for the modern man’ is now advertised as a medicated all-family soap.

New soap brands have also been launched in the market like Safeguard, Pure and Natural and Diva.

I was surprised when a sales lady approached me in a supermarket with an offer to buy the Diva soap. I was quick to reiterate that I thought the soap is meant for divas, but she convinced me that anyone can use it.

The established soap makers have also come up with new variants with Dettol natural soap and medicated Geisha being among the recent additions.

Herbal soaps were also among the early movers in riding the herbal wave.

Soap manufacturers have a way identifying and creating new trends in terms of marketing and innovation.

Business managers need to borrow a bit of the soap ideas for their marketing and innovation initiatives.

It may also help businesses that are aging to get some ideas on how to reinvent themselves and remain relevant in changing times.

Paint manufacturer Duracoat, has come up with an antibacterial paint. When I heard of the advertisement of the antibacterial paint, I was amused by the idea.

Then I realised there so many medicated soaps, hand sanitizers and antiseptics advertisements reminding us about the germs around us.

There is already a public that is aware and worried about germs. The global market for antibacterial paints is estimated to be valued at about $1billion of the paints market.

The paints will provide consumers in medical facilities, food preparation sector, education and baby care service market with added protection.

In reaction to the Duracoat advertisement, someone posted an update in the social network that if antibacterial babies were to be born today many businesses will suffer.

From a business perspective, the germophobia market is a big one and the paint industry now wants a piece of the action, so should other manufacturers.

The writer is the marketing director of SBO Research. E-mail: [email protected]