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Innovative brands –
successful in local markets

In highly competitive markets, new products only succeed when they combine innovation with a deep understanding of the regionally varied expectations and requirements of our customers and consumers. The example of Persil Black, successful in both the Arab region and in European markets, proves that Henkel knows how to get the combination right.


Formulated especially for black and dark apparel, we initially launched Persil in the Africa/Middle East region five years ago under the name Persil Abaya. The abaya is the predominantly black overgarment worn by most Arab women.

The liquid detergent combines true cleaning power with special color protection for black and dark garments – particularly important if these are washed frequently. Since June 2011, Persil Black has also been available in Germany, Austria and Switzerland – catching the crest of a fashion wave. While black is the traditional shade for women in the Africa/Middle East region, the popularity of black and dark clothing has also steadily risen in Western European markets over recent years.

“Persil Black or Persil Abaya is a perfect example of what our mix of global technology and local market expertise can achieve,” says Ashraf El Afifi, Regional President and Corporate Senior Vice President for Laundry & Home Care in the Africa/Middle East region.

Cultural and regional knowledge transfer

He and his team regularly meet with colleagues at headquarters in Düsseldorf to discuss cultural specifics and provide local expertise for the development of consumer-tailored products. With Dr. Dagmar Preis-Amberger, Head of Laundry Production in Düsseldorf, for example, El Afifi reviews both commonalities and differences impacting the production of Persil Black. “It’s great to know that, with Persil Black, we can build on the experience of our colleagues from the Gulf States – their insights are invaluable for the entire process, from production to marketing,” says Preis-Amberger.

The formulations in Africa/Middle East and Europe have some common attributes, while the fragrances are tailored to cultural preferences. Package appearance and consumer communications are also regionally aligned. Persil Abaya was launched in the Gulf States through a mix of TV commercials and a very successful viral online marketing campaignA form of internet marketing aimed at generating digital WOM (“word of mouth”) via e-mail, social networks and/or video networks in order to get a product or brand quickly known. The term “viral” alludes to the manner by which the information spreads – like a virus.
. An interactive website was set up and there was also a designer competition, the abaya having transcended from traditional garment to individual fashion statement. In the Western European markets, the consumer campaign relied mainly on classic TV advertising, complemented by social media activities such as a game on Facebook.

“Thanks to our expertise in different regions, we are able to launch global innovations successfully in diverse local markets. This is a special strength of Henkel,” says El Afifi.

In the Düsseldorf liquid detergent factory, Maria Lancellotti monitors the filling of Persil Black.

Similar formulations, regionally tailored product marketing, strong performance: Persil Black and Persil Abaya for black and dark apparel.

“Persil Black is a perfect example of global technology combined with local market expertise.”

Ashraf El Afifi
Regional President and Corporate Senior Vice President for Laundry & Home Care in Africa/Middle East.