Taking on the roll-on: Singapore brand encourages consumers to embrace zero-waste lifestyle with packaging-free deodorants
Smood was founded in October 2019 by J Tang, an eco entrepreneur.
Smood’s deodorants are formulated with natural ingredients such as beeswax, cassava starch and coconut oil.
Unlike most deodorants, Smood’s products resemble bars of soap and are sold without any packaging, save for its minimal paper wrapping.
“Smood’s natural deodorants are our solution to conventional deodorants. We started with deodorant because its an item that is used daily and the regular deodorants can produce a huge amount of packaging waste,” said Tang.
While some natural deodorant brands have utilised eco-friendly packaging like paper tubes and spray bottles, Tang chose to stick by her eco-values and kept the packaging as minimal as possible.
“I know there are more eco-friendly solutions like jars, bottles and paper tubes, but I wanted to follow my values and produce a product with as little waste as possible. The middle ground for us is reusing glass jars, but we definitely won’t use new packaging,” said Tang.
The packaging of natural deodorants is often a hurdle for many consumers who are generally used to deodorants in more convenient formats like roll-ons and aerosol sprays.
“There’s a lot of convincing that needs to take place to be very honest. We try our best to share how to use it and why we chose to do it this way to remove the doubts that consumers have in their mind,” said Tang.
She added that she saw this as an opportunity to educate people on sustainability and the zero-waste movement.
“I won’t say it’s a challenge. It’s about how much you can educate and spread awareness on packaging-free items and how much people can help the environment by reducing their dependence on packaging.”
Zero-waste interest rising
Tang is optimistic that more people will look past the lack of packaging and embrace the zero-waste movement.
“Over the past years, adoption rate has become faster. I hope to see it more in the future because it will really help to reduce a lot of packaging involved.”
She has seen a steady increase of consumers adopting solid personal care products in the last few years.
The Sustainability Project has seen an uptick of sales of solid products like shampoo and soaps, while business at Smood has also been growing despite the disruptions of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis.
From early April to mid-June, Singapore was in a nation-wide lockdown which saw most people confined at home without the need for products such as deodorant.
However, Smood’s business remained consistent without dips nor spikes, said Tang.
Additionally, the brand has been receiving more enquiries about its natural deodorants, signalling more interest from the market.
While the company has been growing, Tang considers the progress to be sluggish due to its small product line and increased competition in the market.
“Yes, the business has been growing but it’s been quite slow to be honest. That’s because we only offer one product and without a wide product offering, people are less likely to follow you. Also, there have been more natural deodorant brands popping up overseas and locally too.”
Solidifying local position
Smood is currently stocked at local retailers such as The Min List, Ertha, Green Day and The Sustainability Project.
Aside from stocking Smood on The Sustainability Project, Tang said she does not plan to leverage on the its position in the market to boost Smood.
“With The Sustainability Project, I would say I got lucky. When we first launched, we were one of the first movers in the sustainability game and we got a lot of media attention… With Smood, I’m interested in seeing how the brand can grow organically. I don’t want to leverage on The Sustainability Project, I want to experience the whole process of growing a brand and see how far we can go.”
Moving forward, the brand is focused on growing its presence in the local market.
“We want the brand to be well-established in locally first. There are more natural deodorants in the market today, especially overseas. We have to make sure the brand awareness and exposure is strong first in order to succeed overseas,” said Tang.
She added that the brand was aiming to become known as the natural deodorant experts, which is why it was holding back on expanding the product range.
“Our plan was to focus on one product and do well in it. We want to be the go-to natural deodorant brand in Singapore. We definitely feel it’s very important to make the brand known locally first, if not to expand overseas would be more difficult.”