When a company or brand decides to rebrand, it is generally done for a good reason. The brand might have reached a certain point in its evolution, something isn’t working or there are better options, consumer feedback seems to be singling out a point of necessary attention. What many consumers don’t realise though, is the scale of commitment undertaken by the brand & the team behind it when it comes to rebranding. It requires a lot of time, patience, investment, creative flow & dedication. A case in point is recent rebranding by US-based natural skincare brand Soapwalla.
One of the pioneers in the natural/clean beauty field – whatever terminology you are more drawn to – Soapwalla was founded more than ten years ago by Rachel Winard. Driven by passion, activism, holistic lifestyle & her own battle with an auto-immune disease, Rachel took time to educate herself in chemistry and formulation, among other things. Then and only then, she introduced her products to the audience beyond her family and friends, knowing that her products were as effective, as they were good for the body and the skin.
I have been a long-term fan of the brand’s baking soda-free deodorant (many people can react to soda in skincare, often leading to irritation & itchiness), but was surprised when my recent Content/Wellbeing order box revealed a new, colourfully uplifting packaging overhaul. With the deodorant light, plastic jar replaced by a weightier glass one. Personally I preferred the lightness of ‘plastic’ to the heaviness of glass, so I reached out to Rachel, curious about the change. Her reply pinged back fairly quickly and was interesting enough for me to decided to share this open conversation via a blog post with you. Hopefully shining more light on a popular, yet still mercy subject.
According to Rachel, rebranding was nearly three years in the making and made her ‘a global expert in packaging in the process’ .) She acknowledged my point of view on the ‘lightness’ of previous plastic container – it was easy and light to pack for travels, whether I went to the gym or for a holiday. But was honest that ‘in order for us to move away from recycled plastic, we were left with only two options: glass or metal. Metal, especially aluminium-based jars, are insanely harsh on the environment (bauxite extraction is one of the most toxic and polluting industries around). Other metal packaging was far too cost prohibitive”.
Interestingly enough “there are plastic alternatives, but at the end of the day they still read as ‘plastic’ to the consumer, so we wanted to avoid confusion on where we as a brand stand on sustainability”. That is a very endearing point to me, both as consumer and beauty journalist, as many brands like ‘using’ sustainability tagline and marketing, yet scratch the surface, they are anything but. All the more the reason for consumers to get behind small, niche brands in the beauty industry, which large corporations actually follow in terms of their initiatives. Just think for a minute – rebranding carries a significant cost for a small brand, when there are hardly any ‘spare’ cash to invest and all of it goes into ingredients, packaging and staff salaries. So ask yourself – why don’t large companies or conglomerates ‘pioneer’ such changes, when they can certainly afford the investment. Instead many wait to be ‘pushed’ into change, when niche brands are the ones inspire, initiate or bring the change.
As to choosing a glass jar to replace a plastic one, Rachel added that “it is heaver, but infinitely reusable, durable, and helps extend the products shelf lives.” Rachel genuinely prides herself on transparency when it comes to relationship with brand’s customers and has made sure that it is one of the pillars on which she has build her Brooklyn-based business. She doesn’t shy away from answering questions and the information about her products via social media & blog, attracting a certain-type of customer, looking to engage in a conversation, rather than make superficial chit-chat. Soapwalla started its product journey with deodorant creams, knowing that when consumers decided to switch from a mass product to a more natural one, deodorant is one of the first products they turn their attention to. Not surprisingly this category of personal care beauty products is seeing a significant growth and innovation, both in formulation and packaging. In the case of Soapwalla you can also expect sleekness of packaging, to enhance the eco-friendly credentials, as well as ingredients that are the same as before, as well as sustainably sourced.