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  • Writer's pictureSylvie Barr

77 years... a good innings?

Just a few weeks ago I was giving my two pence worth about Toblerone’s latest move.

Yesterday’s news about Tupperware gives me another opportunity to bang the drum for ensuring that your brand and business stay relevant over time.

What you see in the picture is a coffee box that my mum gave me when I moved in my first flat. She had been invited to a Tupperware party hosted by a cousin, and was racking her brain trying to find something to buy.

Fast forward a few decades and the box is still here to keep my coffee fresh.

As the BBC article mentions, Tupperware is a generic name, like Hoover and Kleenex.

Such was the strength of these brands in their heydays, that they became nouns for any product in their respective category.

And that is a double edged sword. Whilst the name is ubiquitous, people don’t necessarily check anymore whether the product they buy is from that brand. They end up buying a plastic container, a vacuum cleaner or a box of tissues.

Hindsight is a wonderful thing, and the retail analysts quoted in the article have pointed to a few reasons for Tupperware’s demise.

Rather than leaving it at that, let’s try to imagine what Tupperware’s management could have done to nurture the brand and keep the business thriving.

First it was alluded that the role of women in Tupperware’s success has not been fully embraced in the boardroom. What if the company had kept their fingers on the pulse and championed women having a career, rather than heavily focus on housewives and in home parties?

The original purpose of the airtight plastic container was to keep food fresh for longer, at a time when refrigerators were too expensive for many. What if they had evolved the brand association with out of home rather than in home? When both men and women go to work, kids need a packed lunch, as do their parents.

Tupperware was probably a pioneer of network marketing, alongside brands like Avon.

The face to face in home selling went out of fashion and was abandoned by the company in 2003 in the UK. Yet other brands like Arbonne have managed to keep it going for a little longer, whilst shifting to online networking.

Yet the biggest opportunity for a rethink and a reinvention lies, in my opinion, within combating food waste. The global pandemic gave Tupperware a lifeline they didn’t manage to hang on to.

The return to home cooking and baking during the lockdown days could have been the springboard for campaigns around reducing waste - like cooking in batches and freezing portions.

Investment in and promotion of more sustainable materials than the original plastic would have revived the edge lost to cheaper competitors.

Association with cause-related charities such as FareShare, changing household habits in the current climate of high inflation and rising cost of living could have gone a long way.

But as they say in France, ‘with so many if’s you could put Paris in a bottle’.

I just hope this story gives you the motivation to keep an eye on the relevance of your business and your brand. Things change, they always do. Other brands have managed to live longer, much longer than 77 years.

So if you need help with a fresh pair of eyes on your market and what opportunities lie for your business and your brand, let’s have a chat.

A problem shared is a problem solved.

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