In 2009, environmentally friendly I LOHAS became the market leader in Japan's bottled water category. The objective for 2010 and beyond was to achieve long-term success with a sustainable campaign. Because bottled water is a low-interest category in which consumers see little difference between products, driving more growth would be a difficult task.
The key to the brand's success was to give consumers a way to feel that they could make a significant contribution to the world they live in without any compromise in taste or enjoyment of life. To position itself as an environmental activist brand, I LOHAS created a 'People's Eco Conference', which became the centrepiece of the campaign, driving PR, social media, and being the foundation of TV and print advertising. It also introduced the lightest packaging in the market, with a 40 percent reduction in PET packaging weight and a smaller label. The bottle was also crushable. The brand further emphasised its low carbon footprint by increasing its local water sources from five to six. The main communication goal was to disrupt the market by creating a consumer movement in which the brand was at the centre of change.
I LOHAS increased its share and sales, selling 800 million bottles in 20 months. It tripled the sales of its nearest rival in Japan and generated the equivalent of US$390 million in media coverage. It also saved more than 12,000 kilolitres in crude oil, and 2,900 kilolitres in gasoline - an environmental impact that changed the way consumers view water brands.
First-mover ICI Dulux, which enjoyed a 37-year head-start against Nippon Paint, enjoyed a wide lead in market share for Malaysia. Nippon wanted to build on its core brand health attributes and set realistic multi-year objectives: to narrow the gap in 'top-of-mind brand', 'most preferred brand', and 'brand considered for future usage' categories; and to dethrone ICI Dulux in terms of market share.
Nippon started by focusing its efforts on younger 'independently minded' home owners. To incrase appeal in the utilitarian paint market, it created Nippon Blobbies - characters that evolved alongside new product innovations and variants, providing a sense of limitless flexibility in colour selection. The Bloobies were launched in 2008 with a TV campaign followed by appearances on billboards, paint dealer signboards, in-store displays, and in merchandise such as key chains and cushions. In 2009, the brand introduced three new Blobbies to mark the release of new products, and in 2010 Blobbies were framed as superheroes that protected homes from harsh weather and stubborn stains.
In three years, Nippon Paint saw great improvements in brand health measurements while ICI Dulux suffered losses. The brand also became the market leader, with 10 percent market share. The Blobbies concept, meanwhile, was emulated by Nippon Paint in Vietnam, Indonesia, Thailand, India, and Pakistan.