PERSPECTIVES: EVERYDAY ESSENTIALS – BRANDING A COMMODITY

Beth Warhurst, Account Manager at Brandhouse

The Brandhouse office is in London, a place 8.8 million people call home. We each have a different view of the city depending on the people we are surrounded by, where we reside and our hobbies outside of our bread winning responsibilities.  Aside from the variables in personal circumstance, there are some constants for all of us  – the branded environment. It is omnipresent  – on the tube, throughout the supermarket, the signage to the local park or the City of London itself.  In today’s environment teeming with thousands of products and services, a well-defined brand can help itself to stand apart from competitors and attract the attention of consumers.

A defined brand can invoke and stand for loyalty, trust, faith, prestige or mass-market appeal, depending on how the brand is marketed, advertised and engages with consumers. Yet what about the products we consume without much of a second thought such as toilet paper? Commercially produced toilet paper is a standard part of daily western life, a functional item with only incremental innovations since mass manufacture commenced in the 1850’s.

How could a new brand stand out in a category that has operated on price and functional attributes for years? The team at ‘Who gives a Crap’ stood back from the well-established, somewhat stale category, dominated by the FMCG conglomerates and thought they could do better.

Have a sense of style.

Consumers utilise commodity items constantly, why not bring some style to the everyday. Another iteration of the colour blue and a cuddly animal is starting to feel somewhat overdone in the sanitation category. The ‘WTC’ packaging is modern, colourful with instant shelf appeal. The Christmas ‘Naughty or Nice’ limited edition collaboration with creative agency Jacky Winter is a standout.  It has resulted in seriously good-looking packaging by some of Australia’s best illustrators.

The cheeky tone of voice across the website and comms is a welcomed break from the dull corporate vocabulary normally utilised in consumer goods advertising. Some consumers may not be comfortable speaking about sanitation products but by lightening the overall mood, avoiding the jargon and having a laugh along the way it helps to break down the taboos.

Adapt to the way your consumers live now.

Helping us to avoid the slightly embarrassing trip home with distinguishable packages underarm or being caught pants down with no supplies; an online shop is now a must for retail brands. Consumers are online during the day, night, at work or at home – a brand needs to be accessible for consumers. E-commerce is not only the domain of supermarkets or retail giants like Amazon; websites such as Shopify, WIX or Paypal are a starting point for new brands entering the marketplace. The Royal Mail could be the new distribution partner helping a brand to reach every household in the U.K.

More than just the money

Armed with the knowledge consumerism could benefit more than just the end-user ‘What the Crap’ operate a Profit for Purpose business model. The brand was established on the promise to donate 50% of profits to hygiene, water & sanitation charities worldwide. In 2016, 4.5 billion people lacked access to properly managed sanitation – equating to 61% of the world’s Population. A World Health Organisation study in 2012 calculated that for every US$ 1.00 invested in sanitation, there was a return of US$ 5.50 in lower health costs, more productivity, and fewer premature deaths. To date the company has shared AUD $1,175,000 with its nominated charities, proving to the FMCG category that this business model can be successful and consumers do care.

Being brave enough to brand a commodity differently has provided ‘What the Crap’ with  a growing loyal consumers base plus ‘stand out’ in the international marketplace. There are many more commodities out there that could benefit from a similar approach .

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