The Middle East and South Africa share the dichotomy of having some very modern cities with well-to-do consumers and at the same time having some areas where the population lives in much more difficult conditions. This dichotomy can be observed in the new products recently introduced in these countries.
Lifebuoy promises the ultimate germ protection with naturally-occurring ingredients
Product description: A new version of Lifebuoy, Clini-care 10 (Clini-shield in some countries), was launched by Unilever in the Middle East and Africa in 2014, continuing a campaign begun in India in 2012. Clini-shield promises 10x better germ protection and 10x more skin care than competitive anti-bacterial products, building on its existing promise of eliminating germs in just 10 seconds. The product boasts Lifebuoy’s newest technology, Activ Natoral Shield, a synergistic combination of plant-based antimicrobial ingredients including geraniol, limonene, linalool, terpineol, thymol from the thyme plant. The product addresses all four key aspects of complete germ protection which are (1) Faster and better reduction in a wide range of germs, (2) Superior germ reduction from the skin in actual handwash studies, (3) Longer lasting protection to reduce germ re-growth on the skin, and (4) Milder skin cleansing to help prevent skin damage through germ attack on compromised skin.
Take-aways: The trend toward using natural ingredients continues to gain strength. Lifebuoy’s approach has global appeal by being Halal for Muslim countries, having the feel of traditional herbal remedies for Asian countries, and having strong scientific support to pass regulatory scrutiny. This product also taps the consumer fear of germs which has been elevated by outbreaks of ebola, Middle East Respiratory Syndrome-Coronavirus, and various forms of influenza.
Dettol Healthy Kids range teaches healthy handwashing
Product description: Reckitt-Benckiser in 2014 launched a new range of Dettol Healthy Kids liquid hand soap, wipes, bar soap, and body wash in Prince and Princess versions in the Middle East. The hand wash claims to be anti-bacterial and pH balanced. Dettol and Lifebuoy have both been prominent sponsors of public health campaigns promoting hand washing as a way to prevent the spread of disease, targeting children at school as well as parents at home.
Take-aways: Designing products that directly appeal to children, either to create “pester power” at the store or to make kids more willing to clean up at home, has been a successful strategy in many categories. This may also be an effective strategy to reassure moms about the safety of the Dettol brand, as Dettol is known for its household disinfecting cleaners and its personal cleansing products may be perceived as too strong for children. The effectiveness of the traditional blue and pink colors with Prince and Princess names is questionable; it may appeal only to very young children and won’t have nearly the draw of famous cartoon characters.
Johnson’s Hydration Essentials facial care
Product description: Launched by Johnson & Johnson in South Africa in 2014, the Hydration Essentials line promises hydration rather than moisturizing, the difference being that hydration adds moisture to the skin while moisturizer forms a barrier film that prevents the evaporation of moisture from the skin. This product contains ocean minerals rich in sodium, magnesium and chloride that help cells absorb moisture and nutrients.
Take-aways: The concept of hydration combined with ocean minerals creates very positive imagery particularly for summertime use. The product effectively appeals to its target of young women looking for uncomplicated skincare that will leave their skin looking healthy and radiant, particularly the mask that doubles as a moisturizer.
Band-Aids takes a functional product and adds an emotional “soothing” benefit with aloe vera
Product description: Launched by Johnson & Johnson in the Middle East in 2014, these Band-Aids promise to aid healing with aloe vera, a natural antibiotic and pain-soother, rather than with a commercially-manufacturered broad-spectrum antibiotic like bacitracin or neomycin. Interestingly, the front label mentions that the bandages have an antiseptic on the pad, but only on the side of the box is the antiseptic ingredient displayed: benzalkonium chloride, a synthetic germicide.
Take-aways: Band-Aids with aloe vera tap two consumer concerns: that the overuse of antibiotics is contributing to the rise of antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria, and that it is healthier to use ingredients found naturally in plants and used in traditional medicine for hundreds or thousands of years. While the use of benzalkonium chloride in the Band-Aid product seems illogical for an item that is trying to carve out a new market space by using natural ingredients and offering a more emotional “soothing” benefit, it’s important for Band-Aid to simultaneously deliver the important functional benefit of preventing infection. This Band-Aid item shows a way to achieve both goals: let the soothing aloe vera benefit play to shopper emotions with primary front-label placement, then reassure of the antiseptic functionality with secondary front-label placement, but relegate the name of the antiseptic ingredient to the side panel.