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2022-02-16

Henkel South Africa turns innovation into a competitive edge

Despite hard lockdowns, Pritt and Pattex growth reflects growing demand for quality DIY solutions


| Henkel South Africa

While consumers in South Africa experienced some of the hardest lockdowns in the world over the past 21+ months, demand for quality home-based DIY and craft solutions have increased.

Michael Dobie, Country Manager: Adhesives for Consumers & Craftsmen at Henkel South Africa says this trend also persisted in the post-lockdown recovery last year, as the skills and desire to do more at home have remained firmly in place.

“Consumers are doing things for themselves far more. There is a special pride in finishing that perfect home project and so what we have noticed is families undertaking projects together, learning and passing on new skills to future generations, while spending quality time together,” says Dobie.

To match these and other trends, Henkel is intensifying co-creation, open innovation and “idea crowdsourcing”, with innovation and sustainability at the heart of its over-arching business model.

“We are scaling our agile approaches very fast and Pritt is a good example of how these solutions are unfolding. In January this year – and then more recently in South Africa – we relaunched this iconic stick. The new generation provides consumers an even more natural and high-performing solution combined with improved sustainability,” says Dobie.

Henkel recently celebrated its 70th year as a business in South Africa, with Pritt as one of its most well-known and loved product.

“Pritt was really where it started for us in Adhesives Consumer South Africa, and we have had very successful growth throughout the years. It became popular through arts and crafts, linked with schools, but notably also due to its extra levels of safety and innovation. A big focus for us has been on safety for children, together with quality and a major focus on sustainability.”

For instance, the new generation Pritt contains 97 percent natural ingredients (including water) while the stick now consists of up to 65 percent post-industrial recycled plastics.


Dobie says more sustainable packaging is on the cards in the future. “We are acting now for tomorrow and accelerating our progress in creating more value for the communities we operate in at a reduced environmental footprint.

With the DIY trend on the rise, sustainable packaging on the Pattex silicone cartridges has also been rolled out.

Henkel continues to innovate and has invested into incubators and innovation centres globally, which are harnessed among all its regional businesses. “Innovation never stops. For instance, we have launched a polymer-based adhesive product that can be applied under water without compromising on phenomenal strength.”

Dobie says while constant innovation provides the company with a decided competitive edge, consumer demands and needs must now be analysed and understood in the “new normal”. Henkel is therefore moving decision-making closer to the market in South Africa. This includes simple solutions like ensuring shelves are properly labelled at the hardware stores where the products are kept.

“For instance, you may have had silicone sealants and adhesives packed together, making them look like the same thing. While manufacturers may buy both, that does not help a shopper like a mother buying an adhesive for her child,” explains Dobie.

“We therefore distinguish between different types of shoppers to understand their needs. Our focus is on growing the category to add value to everything we do, so that everyone wins.”

Henkel is upbeat about the future of the consumer market in South Africa despite the extremely tough impact on the economy and jobs wrought by COVID-19.

“The recovery will come and Henkel Adhesives is in a strong position to meet this demand due to the quality of our solutions but also because we know what end-user shoppers and consumers are looking for and are committed to delivering for them,” concludes Dobie.


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