Malcolm Rands aims to sell his biography alongside his products on supermarket shelves

Malcolm Rands aims to sell his biography alongside his products on supermarket shelves

Ecostore founder Malcolm Rands recently released Ecoman, the story of his and his family's journey ‘from a garage in Northland to a pioneering global brand’. And he’s doing a bit more pioneering to promote it—and educate more Kiwis about the nasty chemicals some of its competitors use—this time with the company’s first-ever end-of-aisle promotion in the two major supermarket chains. 

“Most Countdowns and most New Worlds from this week on are actually selling my book," he says. "That’s something that’s never been done before. And it’s actually not just in one little place, it’ll be a hang sell. It’s also sitting in the cleaning aisle and the beauty aisle. So hopefully that’s going to make people go ‘what the hell’s that?’”

He says the company has done smaller side-of-aisle displays before, but the end-of-aisle promotions cost a fortune and are generally reserved for the bigger FMCG brands (if you want to throw your head into your hands in despair at the state of aisle nine through 13—and society in general—check out this eloquently titled post ‘The world is fucking insane’). But while it certainly wasn’t done solely out of the goodness of the supermarkets' hearts, he says they have been “amazingly supportive of the idea” of putting the book on display alongside the products. 

“When we went with the idea we said ‘oh my God, is this going to work?' And I guess the good thing about the duopoly is that if one says yes then the other one doesn’t want to be left behind. There's a bit of that going on. In my book I say I’m actually quite grateful to the supermarkets. And it’s a supermarket story, it belongs in there in some ways because we’re not a boutique brand, we’re an FMCG brand.”

While selling books in supermarkets is common overseas (it started in the early ‘90s in the UK and, by 2009, one in five books was sold in a supermarket), it’s pretty rare here. So Rands got on his soapbox (hopefully Ecostore branded) this afternoon at the New World Victoria St to launch the promotion, speak about the book and sign a few copies. 

Ecostore focuses heavily on PR and social media in its efforts to sell its wares—and, by extension, to educate consumers and try to change their purchase behaviour. That's a tough job when you're fighting against the massive budgets, persuasive talents and oft-times duplicitous labelling tactics of some of its multi-national competitors. But Rands says the book has created quite a few converts so far (buy it here). So "creating some disruption in that horrible space", promoting the company's values and drumming home the family-owned angle by having the story of the man behind one of the country’s best brands right beside the products he’s helped create is a nice little win-win. Ecostore products are also being stickered to promote the book.  

While we're on the topic of Ecostore, Rands launched his book at The Strand on Parnell a few weeks back and over 250 people attended (there aren't too many global brands where the founding family would get up and play ukeleles and a melodica, but Ecostore is a bit different). 

As for the title, it all started when his daughter Ahi wrote and illustrated a little book called ‘Ecoman, the untold story’ for a Fathers day gift a few years back. This animated video explains how the character came to be.