Before going onstage, singer Christian Bautista makes sure he has brushed his teeth thoroughly and swished his palate with minty mouthwash. “I like to come closer to the audience,” he says.
He swears by the charcoal toothbrush which has antibacterial properties and cleans tannins that stain the teeth.
Bautista is one of the brand ambassadors for Watsons Switch and Save, the private brand campaign of Asia’s largest health and beauty retail store. He says there is great value for a pack of three Watsons charcoal toothbrushes which is equivalent to the price of one toothbrush of the most popular brand.
The private brand is a product that is wholly produced for a retailer who, in turn, will sell the product under its store or own brand name. Since the retailer develops the product, it has more control in the quality, pricing, promoting and selling.
Watsons is changing the perception that even if store brand products are cheaper than the leading brands, the content or service is on par or even better.
“We go through a product development cycle. We see a nice product, create a formulation, do blind testing on customers, and see the effect on them. We don’t launch our store product if it performs less than the leading brand.
“Watsons’ model of testing is based on European standards, not the local Food and Drug Administration. We do a third party audit with our manufacturers and make sure that even our suppliers maintain ethical practices,” says Jared de Guzman, Watsons group brand manager.
Now on its fourth season, Watsons’ Switch and Save campaign maintains that consumers can save as much as 80 percent when they replace the popular brand with the store brand. Then there’s also the “buy-one-take-one” promotion.
De Guzman adds that Watsons’ promos are also unique in the product, thus, bringing something different to the market.
He recalls that the “buy-one-take-one” started with the store’s soaps. While the popular brands cost an average of P80 apiece, the promo enables the customers to get two Watsons soaps for the price of one. Moreover, Watsons’ soap variants are distinctive to the brand such as coconut, chocolate, white tea, ginger—all infused with Vitamin E for a moisturizing effect.
The new body scrub at P49 is the whitening milk and soap scrub with papaya extract. The one-liter cream body wash comes in tropical scents such as cantaloupe.
Consumers find great value in the one-liter cream body wash that either has a whitening effect.
Hair care products, particularly the treatment conditioners for chemically treated hair, are saving customers trip to the salons. Two tubs fetch only P240.
It also works for some accessories. “Compared to the flat iron by the leading brand, Watsons’ hair straightener can bring 60 percent in savings at P1,199. It is temperature-controlled and heats according to the hair type. It straightens the hair faster. You save on electricity,” he explains.
Karen Fabres, Watsons group marketing manager, cites other top-sellers such as the Mulberry Lotion which costs P170, collagen which ranges from P199 for the cleanser for under P500 for the night cream.
“The retail game is changing. We have been experiencing significant growth year-on-year since we launched the Switch and Save Campaign,” she says.
Fabres adds that the store brand’s tissues, wet wipes and facial wipes are just as popular as its specialized items.
De Guzman says Watsons has created products to cater to the local market. “We had to answer its needs. We came out with papaya and comic acid for body lotions. Our body scrubs are scented with papaya, cucumber and aloe. In other countries they prefer rose.”
Watsons has since become a destination brand in which customers return to the store just to get their in-house products. “Customers are coming to the store to buy the same product. We are not just getting new customers but also building a base of loyal customers,” says De Guzman.
As the private brand increases its influence and sophistication, Watsons has been tapping other brand ambassadors outside of show biz. Interior designer, civic worker, emcee and socialite Tessa Prieto-Valdes has been a long-time customer of Watsons in Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong, way before the chain opened in the Philippines in 2003. She would overstuff her luggage with pasalubong from Watsons and end up paying for excess weight.
“I’m a hoarder,” says Valdes, who always watches out for value finds in store promotions.
She swears by Watsons body lotions, hand gel and the foot scrub which keeps her soles clean after running and yoga. The leave-on conditioner nourishes her hair healthy after diving, and the sunblock, which she uses for city living, keeps wrinkles and freckles at bay.
One of Manila’s fabulous hostesses, Valdes favors Watsons personal-care products for giveaways because of their great value and attractive packaging. “Its products are the most looted,” she says. To her, they are pocket-friendly and most appreciated. “They are practical. Men and women can use them.”