TVNZ-NZ Marketing Awards 2016: it’s Only Good at API Consumer Brands


The challenge

API Consumer Brands already has a few well-known brands under its umbrella, including Cancer Society, Health Basics and Home Essentials, yet it gave itself the challenge of launching yet another beauty brand.

As there is a lot of competition in the personal hygiene category, where customers often have a ‘lowest price’ mentality, often driven by supermarkets’ price mark downs, API realised the health products sector was becoming a constant competition of share grabbing led by short-term discounting tactics.

As a small New Zealand manufacturer, its margins were already lower than its global counterparts and with price as a key selling point, those margins were on a downward slide, which hindered API’s ability to take on global competitors head-on.

Because personal wash is one of API’s biggest production lines, these market dynamics meant the very livelihood of its manufacturing facility was at stake.

API needed to rise above the existing brand rat-race to play a new game to achieve a higher margin and prove that local manufacturers were more than just viable.

It also recognised to achieve its three-year strategy to become the number one manufacturer in body-wash in New Zealand, it could not rely on one brand alone. It needed to devise a marketing strategy that would provide consumers with new choices but that would not hinder the sales of its other brand Health Basics.

Redefining consumer expectation

The response

To do all this, it created Only Good, a line-up of natural and palm free body and hand washes. Realising that there were no automatic passes for being a New Zealand brand, it made sure the ingredients in its new product were free of parabencolour, synthetic fragrance and any nasties.

But natural ingredients aren’t enough to make someone want to buy your product, it also knew it needed to make Only Good beautiful. It opted for a sleek amber bottle with apothecary cues to communicate natural, a beautifully modern yet simplistic label design to not over-complicate its key messaging and a colour palette to fit seamlessly into the home and stand out on the shelf.

The name Only Good was also important, as in the FMCG space, quick, clear communication is important and the name was key to representing the ‘all or nothing’ compromise range. So, the packaging communicates immediately that the range is good for consumers.

To spread word of its new product and reach out to its target market – young consumers with more disposable income – it partnered with New Zealand sisters and influencers Julia and Libby. A TVC was created featuring the sisters and shot in a New York style apartment where they reviewed the product and a series of behind-the-scenes videos created with Julia and Libby were used within a digital campaign to educate information-hungry consumers on why Only Good was so good. An in-store experiential campaign was also conducted to catch consumers at point of purchase.

With ‘scent’ still a primary purchase driver and ‘foaming’ a subconscious view of product efficacy, consumers were able to truly experience Only Good before purchase by washing their hands in-store. This strategy allowed API to keep customers engaged for longer.

The results

API successfully introduced a ‘department-store-type’ brand that is price competitive, aimed specifically at the highly competitive personal care aisles of the nation’s supermarkets, that has achieved remarkable success and without cannibalising sales of Health Basics.

In less than a year, and with just four products in the range, Only Good has become the market’s fastest growing brand in category, now ranked third behind Palmolive and Health Basics and it’s still continuing to grow exponentially.

It has also broken new ground on a number of other fronts with the grocery environment with its use of natural ingredients, the stance against using palm oil, the introduction of a new level of aesthetic and premium cues to the category, the simplicity and effectiveness of the design approach and new apothecary style bottle and the re-set price point.

All of these shifts and more came from a deep understanding of the consumer and a commitment to deliver the natural, responsible and integrated lifestyle product they were looking for that represented unbelievable value.

With competitors now rushing to emulate what Only Good has started, the range has transformed the experience and changed expectations for consumers. It has provided consumers with a new level of personal products and it has proven beyond doubt that a small New Zealand manufacturer can more than hold its own against the global behemoths.

In a category where uniformity is the norm, Only Good successfully broke all the moulds to deliver a distinctive brand that is redefining consumer expectation.

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Smaller, bigger: why authenticity trumps size

AUG 2016

Loyal, fickle, tribal, niche – consumer behaviours are in a seemingly constant state of flux. The challenge for design agencies is to anticipate these changes and use them to influence the interaction between audience and content, especially when it comes to purchasing decisions.

“With consumers now, we’re seeing a movement away from what was previously taken for-granted. Established conventions are being overturned and the big brand mentality is being side-stepped in favour of more authentic experiences,” says Ben Reid, creative director at Auckland design agency Milk. “Even if smaller brands might not have the trust or credibility associated with a bigger brand, consumers love the discovery, the stories, and the sense of authenticity these smaller brands carry.

“Consumers are smart, independent, informed, selective and connected. They’re more ethical and aware, and they want more for their money. It creates issues, but there are huge opportunities in here too for brands with relevant content and product.”

Overly branded messaging is out

Milk works with Fonterra on its ‘We Are What We Eat’ inspiration platform, designed to bring Kiwi families back to the table for dinner. Reid says rather than relying on the typical approach of “plastering” branding across every channel at every opportunity, the platform went for an understated approach relying instead on relevant, helpful content “quietly underwritten with brand advocacy”.

“The food category, in general, is a very noisy segment,” says Reid. “We saw consumers had become tired of that kind of messaging, so we went with something new. And the results are incredibly and measurably successful for Fonterra.”

Rethinking assumptions

Sometimes convention teaches people that a product can be one thing but not another. Teaching consumers how to rethink those assumptions can be a catalyst for new purchasing expectations, which can ultimately influence the wider category, too. When API Consumer Brands wanted to launch its Only Good body wash brand, it wanted to make sure its design would convey the quality of its formulation and give it a premium feel.

Ben talks authenticity and changing consumer behaviour through brand and packaging

Reversing the trend

Health Basics is a loved Kiwi staple, but prior to its relaunch its personal care range had fallen from first in its category to third – and it was slipping further. “We researched every aspect of the product experience to understand the motivations before, during and after point of purchase,” Reid says. Milk worked closely with API Consumer Brands to disrupt the category with a new story, naming, and an “unapologetically New Zealand-based provenance”. The relaunch worked and within months, Reid says Health Basics was back in second place in its category, and climbing, as well as enjoying export sales.

Changing landscape

In the same way consumers are gravitating towards smaller, more authentic-feeling brands and away from the establishment, Reid sees a similar trajectory mirrored in the changing agency-client landscape. Where consumers align themselves with smaller, more genuine brands, marketing teams are partnering with smaller, nimbler agencies.

“Mainstream means something different now,” Reid says. “And as an agency we’re interested in making that shift for businesses and brands that can see the opportunity.”

He sees the small size and flat structure of Milk as a strength. The agency works with a network of partners who collectively bring a broad spectrum of experience to the table. “Because we’re a smaller agency, we’ve always had to be innovative and strategic with everything we’ve done. We’ve focused a lot on category disruption because invariably it helps a brand to get noticed.

We try to do as much as possible within the team here, staying close to strategy, design and writing. This is very much part of the passion for us, and clients appreciate that level of intimacy. It’s personal, in every meaning.”

Continuing fragmentation of the sector will see more agencies working within tighter and more specific areas of focus; SEO, digital, content marketing and so on. Reid says that while the specialisation allows for deep exploration of these areas, it makes it very difficult for brands to get a single, integrated view of their marketing.

“We think we strike the right balance between size and specialist. We understand the disciplines and apply them effectively without getting bogged down or limited, and we keep it tight. Nothing gets lost through inter-agency translation.”

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Fonterra Brands calls on the power of Annabel Langbein—and the power of the table—to get Kiwis cooking


The holy grail of content marketing is to create a win-win-win: something that’s good for the consumers, good for the brand and good for the ambassadors/publishers. And Fonterra Brands, Annabel Langbein and Milk reckon they’ve done just that with a new content-led campaign called ‘We Are What We Eat’, which aims to provide Kiwis with the tools to cook more often and more simply—and, at the same time, promote the surprisingly large benefits of getting the family around the table.

Ben Reid, the owner/creative director of (the appropriately named) Milk, says it has been thinking about the idea for the past two years or so and did a few test campaigns last Christmas to see if there was an appetite, tsk tsk, for this kind of content. There was, so it worked with Fonterra to develop an “inspiration platform that had a bigger social side to it and was about families rather than just about food”.

Hyundai is one brand that has been trying to get busy Kiwis to change their priorities and therefore position itself as a family friendly brand, most notably through its Family Time Project and, more recently, through its great 'Get Lost' ad, which was unfairly handed the wooden spoon at the Fair Go Ad Awards this week. And Reid says there’s a similar goal with this campaign, which advocates for “real food rather than processed food” and was launched a couple of weeks ago.

“Families are horrendously busy trying to get everything done. So we’re really interested in helping people," he says. "Of course there’s a commercial agenda. There has to be for something like this. But it’s been a really rewarding campaign."

Successful content marketing often requires the brand to stand back and do the soft sell—and, as the success of Resene’s Habitat shows, it often works well for demand generation, whereas advertising works well for demand fulfilment. And Reid says it needed to offer genuine advice and deliver real value, not just shove products down people’s throats.

He says it’s been an interesting process understanding how you can influence people—in a positive way. And in the food sector, Annabel Langbein has become one of the most influential.

“Having an ambassador like Annabel was huge because she’s got mass appeal.”

The holy grail of content marketing is to create a win-win-win

As Damien Venuto wrote in the just released issue of NZ Marketing, there needs to be a degree of authenticity for influencer marketing to work, with brands advised to give up some of the control and bask in the glow. And Annabel Langbein’s general manager Christine Arden says the campaign is something Langbein felt passionate about and was proud to champion.

“People's need for ‘fast food' and good food doesn’t need to be mutually exclusive,” she says.

Check out an interview with Langbein about her clever media strategy here.

One of the common misperceptions about content marketing is that if you build it they will come. But there’s so much content now on offer—and so many social networks trying to make hay from their audiences—that it generally needs to be promoted. While the campaign is digitally-led, he says it does link strongly with point of sale, something that has been proven to work effectively with brand platforms such as Lion’s The Mix and Made to Match. It is also being pushed out across the social networks of Fonterra, Langbein and some of the major retailers and he says there is some paid for social activity as well (it worked with Fonterra’s media agency Mediacom and Contagion for the social media elements).

While the retailers are supporting the campaign, he says they’re not commercial partners. But it’s in their interest to help push it, both because Fonterra Brands is such a big supplier and because “they are battling against fast food” and anything that promotes more cooking is good for them (New World has shared the intro video and some of the recipes on its Facebook page, and Countdown is running banners on its website and the recipes are integrated into its online shopping platform).

He says the agency, which has been around for 11 years, has eight staff and focuses on design and brand, has put a lot of effort into making high quality video content. And it has been testing different areas and finding out what type of content consumers are most interested in. He wouldn’t give any specifics about the success of the campaign so far, but he says it is already reaching hundreds of thousands of New Zealanders with the videos and has gained over 3,400 fans on Facebook (earlier this year, Fonterra dabbled successfully in content marketing with the Kapiti Cheese Society alongside Dish magazine).

He says it is looking at taking the platform further if the first phase of the campaign works well. And one of the biggest things he believes it can do is to push the power of the table. In the US—and likely in New Zealand—the numbers are slightly concerning, with an article in The Atlantic showing "one in four Americans eating at least one fast food meal every single day, and the majority of American families report eating a single meal together less than five days a week". There is a heap of data showing kids who don't eat with their families regularly are more likely to be obese, truant and generally less successful, so while it might seem like a small thing, as the world of behavioural science show, small things can often have big impacts.

Reid says you can look at this kind of campaign cynically; as a subtle way to shift more dairy products. "But from our perspective, from Fonterra’s perspective and from Annabel’s perspective, we do want to help.”

Written by Ben Fahy, featured on StopPress.

The Edge gets slapped with a pop of colour

— THE EDGE, JAN 2016

The Edge has had a facelift, with a bright new logo and brand refresh to better suit its modern position as a multi-platform brand. The move comes only a week after its parent company MediaWorks had its own revamp.

The change is fitting for The Edge, which is no longer just a radio station but is now an entertainment brand that traverses TV, radio, an app and a website.

The new look is bright and colourful swapping out the bluey-purple and orange stamp design and for hot pink and purple, with simple text. A MediaWorks release says this is the biggest brand refresh it’s had in 20 years.

“A new logo will now unify all platforms under The Edge umbrella. The new streamlined graphics have an electric colour and design palette that interrupts the norm and connects with The Edge audience. Plus, new onscreen technology has been introduced to incorporate social media, giving viewers an enriched interactive experience.“

MediaWorks head of marketing Katie Mills says the design work for the rebrand was done by MILK headed up by Ben Reid (creative director). The Edge team, headed by Emily Hancox and supported by Rachel Langford and Michael Kooge delivered the brand development and activation with their colleagues. "The Edge team are fizzed to be able to take this to market today. I'm extremely proud of their work."

Ryan Kothe also contributed to the process.

Healthy dose of attitude

According to the release the intention was a look that was simple and cohesive with “a healthy dose of The Edge attitude”.

“One of the great things about this exciting project is that it cements the fact that The Edge is not a radio station, not a TV channel, not a website. The Edge is an entertainment brand. This rebrand is just the first step towards the amalgamation of our platforms. 2016 is going to be huge for The Edge, so watch this space,” says The Edge network content director Ryan Rathbone in the release.

Mills says it was the right time for the rebrand. "It was absolutely the right time to deliver our audience a stonking destination entertainment brand unified across television, online, app, social and of course our number one radio station. The Edge team have worked relentlessly to get this brand right for the people who want to play with us - and for our clients, the delivery of large, engaged audiences.

Last year The Edge made its biggest move towards becoming a multi-channel brand with The Edge TV after listeners continued to fragment with new platforms entering the market. For the move, The Edge took away the TVNZ-NZ Marketing award for Media and Publishing.

The Edge faced new competitors in radio, online music streaming, mobile apps and other media. So, The Edge had to think up something new, and quickly.

The Edge TV replaced C4 and includes music videos, live music and pre-produced music shows synching across all the main media platforms.

When The Edge won the TVNZ-NZ Marketing award last year it was showing healthy gains for radio, TV and online with listeners increasing by 8.6 percent to 465,300 and weekly website page views had increased 46 percent to 266,086.

The Edge TV immediately increased its audience by more than 40 percent, reaching 1.2 million viewers in its first month.

In the most recent radio survey results More FM and The Rock were the only two brands to lift their listener numbers from the figures posted a year earlier. The Rock went from 285,600 listeners to 297,400 while More FM lifted from 292,100 to 328,300.

Newstalk ZB again held onto its position as the station with the biggest share of overall time spent listening (11.4 percent), followed by The Rock (9.1 percent) and Coast (9 percent). And the Edge once again had the highest total number of listeners with 436,000, followed by Newstalk ZB on 364,500 and More FM on 328,300.

The biggest drops in this category were suffered by The Sound (down 30,700), Radio Hauraki (down 28,900), The Edge (down 26,700) and Radio Live (down 21,300).

In the 18-24 category the edge was down 13,100 listeners but still had the highest listenership across every category at 73,400.

According to Nielsen figures, The Edge has had steady website traffic from September last year to December, with a peak in October of 100,738 unique browsers.

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Finding Z: The generation to fit them all

— SKIN & TONIC, APR 2017

Consumers today feel no responsibility to act their age.That means the old generational designations apply less and less, and brands need to respect and respond to that by being much more open-minded about who they’re targeting and why. Instead of isolating down into Millennial or Gen X or Boomer, a better approach is to focus on what consumers are motivated by rather than communicating to a checklist of characteristics. Increasingly, the brands Milk works with are talking with consumers that span the traditional generational boundaries, and take an open-minded view of who their customer is. They communicate based on personality and needs rather than pre-set age-based clusters.

The work of leading psychologists like Michal Kosinski – whose psychometrics research shows that factors such as openness to new experiences, conscientiousness and neuroticism count more than age or life stage in influencing behaviour – reveals a new way to approach brand marketing. Stop thinking about the demographics of targeting, and focus more instead on the feelings you want to motivate. If it’s sophisticated social algorithms that drive consumers, then winning and retaining attention in a crowded marketplace requires understanding of those factors. Milk’s approach to this has been to look to the way brands we work with align with people’s habits and attitudes, how they fit into the cultural noise that influences people, and how those brands provide ways for people to express themselves or their unstated needs.

Building brand with heart

This is an effective approach because historic generational boundaries are dissolving. As millennials age, marketing focus is shifting to Gen Z but it’s a generation defined less by age than connectivity. It’s a generation that not only expects everything to be digital and immediate, but also transparent and accountable. Gen Z wants their world to be more considered, authentic, personalised, less elitist – and it wants the brands it chooses to reflect that, too. These are sophisticated consumers; they recognise value and expect better experiences from brands and products that they choose to interact with – expectations that are shaped by the social and digital environments they participate in.

Design thinking offers a powerful way to respond to these changes and to draw people in. But designing effectively is complex today because channels are more diverse, audiences are less regimented and competition is so intense. It’s easy to be daunted by that, but designing to engage around interests and emotions offers a way into the challenge. That was how Milk approached the branding for personal care brands like Only Good and Skin & Tonic.

While age groups were part of the broad targeting, the approach really focused on rethinking the experience people have with their personal care products, questioning designs not just on whether they work aesthetically as pieces of packaging and communication, but also on the social messages and experiences they communicate. It’s been intriguing to take cues from different categories and apply them, and to see what happens. With Only Good, a department store aesthetic brings a contrasting premium sensibility to the mainstream category, while Skin & Tonic’s body wash positioning uses the language of cold-pressed juices to bring a luscious, juicy and natural feel to the product. It might not have been the obvious message, but it was deeply aligned with how the target audience wanted to see the world and their own homes.

Ultimately, people value what they feel and in order to deliver brands that people will value, marketers and design agencies need to understand those powerful, if sometimes irrational drivers. Everything should stem from inspiring those motivations, otherwise design is simply guesswork – and that puts both brands and consumers in danger of being short-changed.

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