Most of us would probably be aware of the health benefits of consuming pineapples. The power packed fruit is rich in nutrients, vitamins, anti-oxidants, and enzymes to fight diseases and ease digestion, among other things.
In the beauty and cosmetic industries, pineapple-based skincare products have also taken the industry by storm. In summer 2019, big cosmetic brands such as Marc Jacobs and Too Faced launched their range of pineapple-based products known to help improve dull skin and brighten up skin tones.
Now, did you know that the power-packed fruit can act as a natural, anti-allergy, and eco-friendly cleaning agent for your home? Read on as we chat with Peter Wainman, Chairman and CEO of Equator Pure Nature Co. Ltd to find out more about the remarkable story of his lucrative clean-tech business, making his company the leader in natural cleaning products across Asia.
Hey there, Peter. Welcome to Marketing In Asia. To start the ball rolling, tell us more about your background, your career, and your passion.
Thank you for having me. Based in Bangkok, I serve as Chairman & CEO (and co-Founder) of Equator Pure Nature, the owner of the Pipper Standard brand of natural, healthy, hypoallergenic, household and personal care products (laundry detergent, dishwashing liquid, floor cleaner, liquid soap, bathroom cleaner, etc.), all made from our globally patented pineapple fermentation technology.
With an engineering degree and a research and development background from M.I.T., I have invested in and led a number of technology start-up companies over the last 25 years, including the technology company NextG Networks, which started from a white paper in 2001 and which we sold for USD $1.2 billion in 2012.
It is my passion to start companies and build them to large substantial enterprises. And particularly, for Pipper Standard, we are building a global clean-tech company focused on the right things for people, our environment, and our culture of employees – healthy hypoallergenic products, biodegradable certified, proper governance and fair principles.
We are thrilled to hear more about how you started your business. There’s an interesting story behind this, so take us through it, Peter.
It is an interesting story indeed. I’m originally from New York and I’ve been doing business in Asia since 1995. I’ve been living in Thailand for 15 years and while I was living here, I had a horrible allergic reaction in 2010 to chemicals commonly used in household products. I had burning across my back, and breathing difficulties. This lasted a long time until I discovered that it was caused by harmful chemicals used commonly in household products. After that reaction I said to my wife “hey, let’s change the products in our home from chemical products to natural products” but when we looked around, we couldn’t find anything that had the proper standard of quality.
And I felt, with my M.I.T. R&D background, we could invent these types of products ourselves. There’s been a concept, maybe for thousands of years, among various hill tribes that if you take a plant and put it in a jar, seal it and put it under the hot sun, over time it transforms into a liquid and you can use that liquid to clean. But no one really figured out what plant to use, what properties and so on, so we started an R&D process at the end of 2010 to determine that.
It took us many years but eventually we succeeded and created a very effective, perhaps superior product to chemical products just from pineapple. It’s healthy, safe and very effective. And it brings into the reason for our name: Pipper (my mom used to call me this as a kid) Standard (because of our high and uncompromising standard). Pipper Standard connotes the standard we use for our own families, just like my wife and I use our products in my home for our five year old son.
In recent years, there has been a growing interest in pineapples as a natural ingredient for health and consumer products. Perhaps you can expand and tell our readers what Pipper Standard products are, its range and why they are unique.
To understand why we are unique we first have to ask what other cleaning product companies do? Other substantial companies in this space, broadly speaking, create their products the same way as it has been done over the last 50+ years. They source surfactants, builders, adders, preservatives and some sort of scent, and mix it together. The brands that try to position themselves as natural will take a more natural-based set of that stuff but it’s still in effect the same concept. The knowledge of how to do this has been around a very long time, and there is no patented technology in these processes.
Our concept is fundamentally different. We start with a fruit – pineapple. We take pineapple and ferment it ourselves and the fermentation process yields powerful enzymes, natural acids, bio-surfactants, and natural preservatives which act synergistically to clean. It’s because of this fermentation that we don’t have to add any sort of harsh substance. As a result, we have a range of Pipper Products for every type of household cleaning that you can imagine, laundry detergent, floor cleaner, dishwasher, bathroom cleaner, multi-purpose cleaner, and so forth and also personal care products, like our natural liquid hand soap.
Pipper Standard has definitely grown since its launch in 2014. Today, Pipper Standard has its distribution to more than 300 stores in Thailand and available in seven Asian markets. That’s amazing!
Share with us your marketing strategy, and where has that brought your brand today?
This is a great question. Actually at this point we’re in 15 Asian markets and a couple of thousand stores throughout Asia. Marketing, as I’m sure you can appreciate, is all about knowing your customer and understanding your brand’s position in that space. For us, as a superior, hypoallergenic, and healthy product, we focus on the segments where people are concerned about the effects of chemical products.
That’s typically those with families or, as we like to call it, the mom and baby segment and people with some sort of health issues because all our products are non-irritation certified and free of known allergens, and all of our leading products are hypoallergenic certified. And of course as we come from pineapple, all of our products are certified to biodegrade, so we also focus on the environmentally conscious folks. So it’s all about marketing to these segments – the mom and baby segment, the health segment, the environment segment and also the high-end sports segment because the ingredients in our product don’t degrade high-end fabric.
At the end of the day, it’s all about marketing your brand the right way, knowing your customer and ensuring your brand is positioned correctly.
What can we expect from Pipper Standard in the coming years? Will you be expanding into other markets and possibly into other growth industries as well?
We’ve had explosive triple-digit growth because of several macro trends that are happening in the world. First, across Asia, allergy and asthma rates are skyrocketing. About 1/3 of people in Asia now suffer from some sort of allergy, a dramatic increase from 30 years ago, and rates in young children are even higher than this. For example, I am in Bangkok where about 49% of children in Bangkok now have allergies.
We believe such rapidly increasing rates of allergies and related maladies are linked to excess exposure to harmful chemicals, just like my personal story I described earlier about my allergy experience. As Asian families –our main target market being the mom and baby segment – see these types of issues, they want better, healthier products for their children.
And we try to always emphasize our tagline “A Healthy Environment Starts at Home” which means the following concept outside there may be pollution from cars and factories, but as individuals we can’t do much about that. That really has to be the government. However, individuals can decide what kind of products to put in their homes and our most vulnerable segment are our children, who are typically in the home environment. So our goal is to help families to use better and healthier products.
The second trend supporting our story is the global movement towards natural products, particularly in three key areas: food, cosmetics, and now us, household products. The other trend supporting Pipper Standard, is the trend by global investors to back positive companies like us by “impact investing” and ESG investment, i.e., investing in companies doing the right thing for society and the environment.
What would you say, are the ingredients for a successful marketing strategy, especially for products that have to compete in a noisy marketplace?
To the outside, it may look like a noisy space, but it’s not in a lot of ways … meaning we’re the only product out there that’s truly natural from plants. Our products are made from pineapple and are healthy for people so the key for us is to try to explain to consumers what the difference is between our products and the others.
And that’s all down to knowing your customer, knowing your customer, knowing your customer and we can just keep repeating that because it’s really important to know who you are targeting. For us it’s all about getting back to our core segments – mom and kids, because parents want better healthier products for their families, and we continue to demonstrate the usefulness of our non-irritation and hypoallergenic products.
If there is one thing you want people to remember Pipper Standard for, what would that be?
Pipper Standard is trying to do the right thing. We are the Asian market leader for natural cleaning products from pineapple. We’re using our globally patented technology to help consumers move away from chemical products to better and healthier products for their families.