Pakistan's Answer to Tupperware?
Published in Nov-Dec 2022
My mother loves the plastic containers she uses to store food items and pack my lunch. She loves them so much that when I get home from work, the first thing she asks is whether or not I have brought back the container I use as a lunch box. On the days when I forget – or lose the lid – she is not pleased.
Perhaps this is not so surprising. Most women are the key decision-makers of household purchases such as homeware. In fact, according to a CivicScience survey published in Insider Intelligence in January 2021, 70% of women make all or most household/children’s purchase decisions. No wonder they are possessive about their purchased homeware.
Interestingly, it was not until recently that I realised that the container I have been using for lunch is made by Appollo Houseware. The company was established in 1986 and is the flagship brand of Golden Enterprises – a company that manufactures plastic.
Initially, Appollo’s product portfolio included food storage containers (often referred to as Tupperware – a testament to the American brand which specialises in food storage containers). Over the decades, Appollo have increased their product range and it now includes items spread over 15 to 20 categories. These are kitchenware (microwave lids, ice cube trays and vegetable baskets), houseware (waste bins, clothing hangers and soap dishes), kid’s ware (plastic chairs, tables, baby pots and water bottles) and outdoor items (water coolers, thermoses, mugs and more recently, hotpots). Their bestselling items, however, remain plastic containers which are available in myriad shapes, colours and sizes, as well as items in their kid’s ware range.
Despite this wide range of product offerings, Appollo continues to add to its portfolio by introducing three to four new products every month, on average. For instance, during the winter months, they introduced dry fruit trays and food warmers, and in summer, they focused on back to school supplies with newly designed lunch boxes and water bottles inspired by recently released animated films.
However, even though the brand has been around for over three decades, Appollo has only recently (2016-17, as per the brand team) started advertising the brand in earnest. The reason for this late start according to Huzaifa Khalid, Marketing Lead, Appollo, was that Apollo wanted to improve their distribution before advertising heavily. “We didn’t want the audience to see ads for our products only to not find them in the market.” Appollo is now available across the country in small-scale neighbourhood stores, those located in bazaars as well as large-scale stores such as AlFatah, Carrefour, ChaseUp, Imtiaz, Metro and Springs. They also have a “good market share” in Canada, the UAE and the US.
After ensuring nationwide distribution, they began to work towards creating brand awareness by taking a storytelling approach rather than a functional one (which was the case before), because according to Khalid “Although Appollo products are available across Pakistan and probably have a presence in every household, most people are unaware of the brand.”
This move makes sense, especially when one keeps in mind the fact that according to a Karachi-based retail audit undertaken by Aurora, although Appollo is available in stores across the city, consumers rarely ask for it by name. Furthermore, stores specialising in plastic homeware are a dime a dozen, and also offer unbranded products. Appollo released their first story-based, emotional DVC (the ads before had a more functional and product-centric approach) and centred on aiming to create brand recall by bringing out certain emotions linked with familial relationships in 2021.
The first campaign, ‘Tiffin Stories’, depicted a husband who forgot his Appollo lunch box at the office and is trying to distract his wife’s attention from this; his friends from work arrive to give him the said container to ensure that he brings homemade lunch the next day so (they can all savour it, as his wife is a wonderful cook). The second DVC rolled out less than a year later in August 2022. Titled ‘Maa Ke Haath Ka Khana’, it focuses on a mother who predicts that her son (he has come back late from work) will now expect her to warm his dinner. When she doesn’t get up to do so, the son assumes he has to do it himself only to discover his dinner is on the table and remained warm in Appollo’s new Chef Hotpots.
In addition to these campaigns, the brand has a presence on all major digital media platforms, such as YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and even Pinterest, where they promote their products, and run promotional ads in addition to TikTok and Snapchat. Their products are also featured on a co-branded cooking show on Masala TV titled Khayal Thora Extra which is also their tagline. In addition to these, in cities in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab, the brand is promoted via OOH, and the latter, according to Khalid, is a prime market. “Punjab is bigger and has more urbanised cities than Sindh.”
Given the recent restrictions and higher taxes on imported products, Appollo’s brand team believes that more people will gradually shift to products made in Pakistan. According to the team “we provide high-quality, airtight and leak-proof plastic products at affordable prices and our value packs are priced as low as Rs 200.” Therefore, the brand is not concerned when it comes to competition, as they are of the opinion that not many Pakistani houseware brands can match the quality of their products.
This USP ensures that Appollo’s target audience includes all SECs. According to the brand team, the quality of Appollo products attracts SEC A and B, and the affordable prices attract SEC C, D and E. Furthermore, while women of all ages are their primary target audience, men are increasingly purchasing household products as well.
Appollo take pride in the fact that all their products are made in Pakistan. They are ISO certified and abide by all the international standards of manufacturing. “We use food grade (food safe) and BPA (Bisphenol A – an industrial chemical used in manufacturing plastics and resins since the 1950s) free plastic,” adds Khalid.
He also adds that their products are reusable. “Plastic already exists in the market; we cannot take a rigid step and end its use and that is why in our communications we also stress the fact that Appollo products are long-lasting and can be used repeatedly.”
Looking forward, Appollo plan to further increase their product portfolio by introducing house cleaning products and utensils such as cleaning brushes, mops and brooms. The long-term vision is to make Appollo a globally recognised brand by further increasing their international footprint.
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