API Consumer Brands already takes up a large chunk of the bath, shower, soap and handwash section of the supermarket with an assortment of well-known brands under its umbrella, including Health Basics, Home Essentials and Only Good.
But with the growing number of people in New Zealand donning their activewear, drinking green juices and trying to be healthier as a whole, API decided there was room on the shelf for another product that tapped into this consumer mindset.
“The idea for Skin & Tonic came from the insight that food brands are stealing health and beauty [concepts],” McKandry says.
“If you look across the world, there’s interesting concepts: collagen chocolate, beauty juices, lots of health foods that will promote anti-aging and tighter skin.
“We thought if categories outside of health and beauty are stealing beauty, we need to look at the other categories and steal from them, from juicing and clean eating to raw diets. So we came up with creating a brand within health and beauty that looks like a cold pressed juice.”
No, really. Collagen chocolate is a thing.
McKandry says though the product is for anyone that’s health conscious, it’s been tailored to suit the young’uns.
“What we tried to do was focus on Millennials a little bit. If you think about who’s buying into this sort of stuff, they’re the one generation that are so much more aware than any other generation before them about what they eat, what they put on their skin and the impacts.”
Only Good is API’s other soap line. It has a more premium price point and is free of paraben, colour and synthetic fragrances.
McKandry says the difference between Only Good and Skin & Tonic is the latter is aimed at younger consumers entering the market for the first time. They may have moved into their first flat and want to be house proud, but at a slightly cheaper price point.
The Only Good brand is the next step up, she says, embodying the look, feel and qualities that tick all the boxes for slightly older, wealthier consumers.
Though API’s three-year strategy is to be the number one body wash manufacturer in New Zealand, it doesn’t consider the fact it’s New Zealand made to be an automatic pass with consumers.
“Many moons ago we learnt people love to say they’ll buy New Zealand made products, but they won’t do it in this category just because it's New Zealand made,” she says.
“Consumers are looking at what’s in it for them. The product has to be good, functionally as well as emotionally. That’s why we’ve said with Only Good that it ticks all those boxes: Made in New Zealand, looks good and is also a good ethical choice for the environment.”
Before launching Only Good, API carried out research by getting out into people’s homes and analysing their purchase decisions.
“When you ask someone a question, they give an answer and it’s generally not the reason. We put the sales and marketing team through some training about really finding out why,” she says.
A key insight that was discovered was that people would buy a high-end Trilogy or Ashley & Co product to put in their bathroom or kitchen, use it once and then fill it up with cheaper stuff from the supermarket.
“Consumers are house proud and have sense of prestige and a sense of brand that they like to have on show,” she says. “It led us to believe – and it was a massive insight – we can have a brand in the supermarket that people can buy that ticks all those boxes.”
Skin & Tonic hit Foodstuffs (Pak’n Save and New World) supermarket shelves in October last year.
In-store promotional activities are being carried out to capture the Millennial demographic, such as fruit infuser water bottles being offered for free with a Skin & Tonic purchase.
“What we learnt is that Millennials particularly are driven by the in-store experience. That’s not just, ‘Is this a nice New World?’ It’s the experience at shelf and in-store promotion so they’re delighting at point of purchase,” McKandry says.
She says seeing as its category in supermarkets is filled with traditional, mature brands that don’t really stand out from one another, both brands are a breath of fresh air for consumers.
“Dare I say it, you could take the label off the more traditional brands and swap them over and they’d be the same - a swirly fruit, or a drop of coconut,” she says.
With Only Good’s originality being recognised when it won the Emerging Business/New Brand TVNZ Marketing Award last year, time will tell whether Skin & Tonic is as well received as its big brother brand.
McKandry says though it’s early days, the new brand is going well, but distribution and awareness will be key.