‘A marathon, not a sprint’: Product innovation and aggressive marketing key for success post-COVID-19 – Unilever’s Lifebuoy

By Amanda Lim

- Last updated on GMT

Lifebuoy says it will double down on product innovation and aggressive marketing tactics in order to maintain the sales boom seen throughout COVID-19. [Lifebuoy]
Lifebuoy says it will double down on product innovation and aggressive marketing tactics in order to maintain the sales boom seen throughout COVID-19. [Lifebuoy]

Related tags COVID-19 hand sanitisers Hygiene

Unilever-owned brand Lifebuoy says it will double down on product innovation and aggressive marketing tactics in order to maintain the sales boom seen throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

In 2020, Lifebuoy grew by over 50% on the back of demands triggered by COVID-19 and the brand’s COVID-19-focused communications, such as its ‘H is for Handwashing’ campaign to raise awareness of handwashing and hygiene among children.

“As the pandemic took hold, we saw a resurgence in the need for trusted, effective hygiene products. Our objective during the pandemic was straightforward – to increase the supply of and access to our affordable hand hygiene products, whilst educating more people about good handwashing habits to stay safe,”​ said Poh Khim Yin, global brand vice president, disruptive hygiene, Unilever.

Even with vaccines rolling out across the globe today, Poh believes the pandemic has dealt a lasting change in the hygiene category.

“We know the COVID-19 pandemic is going to have a lasting effect on the way we live and work and play for years to come… Even as the vaccine is rolled out, handwashing will continue to be a line of defence against illness.”

She added that the brand’s mission moving forward was clear. “It’s clear that the battle against COVID-19 is a marathon, not a sprint, and Lifebuoy will continue to support public health messaging and advocate the importance of handwashing with soap and water.”

Ensuring that its products are accessible is key for Lifebuoy, Poh stressed. Last year, it launched in 55 new markets to respond to the need for affordable, accessible hygiene products during the health crisis.

Continuous innovation

Poh also emphasised the brand’s focus on innovation to fulfil the continued demand for hygiene products.

“As we adjust to a new normal, public health measures and hygiene are more important than ever. We have continued to innovate the Lifebuoy product range, focusing on making our products accessible in public spaces and out-of-home settings where people may feel more exposed to germs.”

Some products the brand has recently rolled out include its 2-in-1 sanitiser spray, which claims can be used on hands as well as surfaces.

With so many consumers purchasing more hygiene products than ever before, we rolled out our hygiene products in new formats.Some of these offer more benefits, such as Lifebuoy's 2-in-1 sanitiser spray that works on both hands and surfaces,” ​said Poh.

Another innovation is Lifebuoy’s ‘Handle on Hygiene’ retail hygiene technology developed in partnership with creative agency Geometry and rolled out in select supermarkets in the Middle East and China.

The device, which is attached to trolly handlebars allows consumers to quickly sanitise the handlebars by dragging it across the handlebars.

“By swiping the device horizontally across the handle, a thin layer of sanitiser liquid is instantly applied to any supermarket or store trolley handle. As customers touch food, swipe and then retouch the handle, their hands and handle are completely re-sanitised, protecting shoppers throughout their entire shopping journey,” ​said Poh.

Top of mind

For the brand and its message of hand hygiene to remain top-of-mind for consumers, Poh said it has committed to a higher level of media support across traditional advertising, digital and point-of-sale marketing.

“It also means creating a single-minded campaign to improve handwashing behaviours via innovative digital initiatives like our partnership with Google Unskippable Labs and the #DotheLifebuoy digital campaign, which attracted more than 60 billion impressions across 13 countries in a span of less than five months,”​ said Poh.

The brand has also attempted to raise its profile through other avenues such as supporting the McLaren F1 team and the Singapore Tennis Open in February this year.

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