The product was released at the end of March as the country battled with the COVID-19 pandemic, issuing a lockdown (Alert Level 4) on March 25.
The company ceased production of its other products such as lip balms and body butters, instead focusing on manufacturing the sanitisers.
According to Stephie Peacocke, CEO of Bonbon Group: “In the first three weeks of sales, sanitiser eclipsed all other products, giving our business a 300% lift in sales. You could still buy our whipped soaps, but to be honest it was a sanitiser frenzie.”
Because of the sudden demand, Peacocke said there were some shortages in raw materials and packaging.
“Everything was hard to get, packaging was gone overnight, lids became impossible to get, alcohol was getting snatched up, we really had to be smart and hustle to get anything we needed, we paid so much for ingredients and packaging in those first few weeks just to be able to keep up with demand.”
The sanitiser is manufactured in Whakatane, New Zealand.It can be used as a regular hand sanitiser, or sprayed onto surfaces such as door or trolley handles and claims to eliminate 99.9% of germs and bacteria.
Besides being anti-bacterial, the sanitiser is marketed with a moisturising effect.
Peacocke told us: “We added in glycerine and Vitamin E to help with moisturising. We have had feedback from customers who said it is the only sanitiser they can use without irritation.
“What makes our sanitiser unique is that we used a vanilla ice cream scent, which customers really loved as it was so different to what was out there.”
The sanitisers are available in 125ml as a mist application for USD14.99, as well as a refillable mist pens (contains 80 sprays) for USD8.99.
The sanitisers are sold on its website, supermarkets and pharmacies such as Farmers and Life Pharmacy nationwide. In addition, supermarkets had been utilising its products: “Throughout the lockdown many supermarkets were buying our product in bulk and misting customers' hands before they entered the store as it was totally contactless.”
Peacocke said as businesses gradually resume, it will be available in more retail stores.
Alert Level 3 and up
On April 27, the country eased lockdown measures and moved to Alert Level 3 which allowed several businesses to operate. The Bonbon Factory had also resumed production of its other products.
Peacocke said the initial peak in production and demand has since stabilised.
“Our manufacturing team started producing our other products last week. It's a strange feeling because we don't know what demand is coming. We are planning for a significant downturn in demand with our current retailers, the majority of them are not trading and we foresee a real struggle ahead for the economy.
“We have taken measures to cut back where we can, reduce staffing hours and are looking to go to four days a week for our workforce.”
Despite this, Peacocke is hopeful for the future. “We are so excited about getting up into Asia and not a week goes by where we are not taking requests to stock us.
“As they say, ‘Fortune favours the bold’ and our little New Zealand handcrafted factory intends to do just that, move forward boldly and with care.”