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Recently, I came across a local brand called A*bundant selling hand soaps that looked rather premium from its photography and product labels. Going into its website, the about page stated that the mission of the brand is to provide high-quality products at a fair price. 

Yet, the two products sold include a 300ml Hand Wash and 50ml Rinse-Free Hand Wash (essentially hand sanitiser) which cost RM68 and RM30 respectively.

As a compulsive hand-washer who gets my soaps from convenience stores due to their affordability, I had to ask A*bundant’s founders why they deem these price points reasonable for hand soaps.

Fair in comparison

A*bundant’s founders comprise Heng, King, Nicholas, Justin, and Zen, who are advocates for high-quality and natural products themselves. They frequently use products from higher-end brands such as Aesop, L’Occitane, and Grown Alchemist. 

After the increased level of awareness for hygiene catalysed by the pandemic, they realised that their well-loved brands cost a heap. 

This would lead them to R&D what they deem as a higher quality product made locally in Malaysia and sold at a more affordable price. 

Image Credit: A*bundant

For context, Aesop’s 500ml hand soap costs RM149, L’Occitane’s 300ml hand soap is RM85, while Grown Alchemist’s 300ml soap sold on Ken’s Apothecary costs RM95.

Thus, in direct comparison to those brands, A*bundant’s prices are considered more affordable, especially if the team is taking on the competition in luxury markets. 

To add, A*bundant’s team is also using a similar branding as Aesop, which also calls its 50ml hand sanitiser a “Rinse-Free Hand Mist”, priced at RM45.

Convincing the market

With hand washing being a norm, A*bundant’s value proposition is to improve and elevate users’ experience, according to the team.  

“If we were to compare ourselves with the commercialised brands, then yes, definitely our product has a higher price point,” its team told Vulcan Post. 

“But we are positioning our brand to consumers of higher quality products, customers who look beyond cleansing their hands, and to skincare products that are beneficial to their skin.”

Personally, having tried hand soaps from Aesop and L’Occitane, I like these brands for their beautifully scented soaps that don’t leave my hands feeling dry after washing. 

Image Credit: A*bundant

To compete, A*bundant’s products are formulated with vegan and plant-based ingredients that are imported from the UK and US, while using pure essential oils. 

Taking a look at the listed ingredients for their products, even some of the more unfamiliar ingredients such as sodium lauroyl sarcosinate, benzyl alcohol, benzoic acid, and dehydroacetic acid have all been given the green light by the FDA for use in cosmetic products, albeit in controlled quantities.

During the R&D period, A*bundant’s team surveyed a small sample group consisting 50 consumers with sensitive and dry skin types. Through it, they were convinced they had created quality products due to the positive feedback received from their respondents. 

Launched in July 2022, the brand’s current marketing efforts include working with influencers with niches targeting consumers who appreciate natural skincare products.

Getting production just right

When it comes to launching a brand in the competitive skincare market, you would think that getting your brand name known is one of the hardest challenges. During our interview, however, A*bundant’s team actually named manufacturing as their biggest hurdle.

Using only natural ingredients, A*bundant’s products are made in batches. 

“Having said that, as we are sourcing the raw ingredients imported overseas, the logistics and delivery time could turn out to be an issue as proper pre-planning and forecasting of stocks has to be done way beforehand,” they highlighted.

Image Credit: A*bundant

If you take a look at A*bundant’s label design, it’s designed with die cuts to maximize the reflective chrome surface of the soap bottles. In printing, die cuts are used to create custom shapes and designs for labels.

“It is a challenge to stick our labels perfectly with the different die-cut areas, thus in order to maintain the look of our brand, we stick all the labels manually by hand,” added the team.

For now, the team reportedly sells a monthly average of 100 bottles of hand soaps, and believe they are still far from achieving their targeted expectations.

Image Credit: A*bundant

When asked if the team intends on expanding A*bundant overseas one day, they shared that it’s something they will only pursue after establishing themselves in Malaysia and Singapore. 

They also addressed that they do not have plans to be on retail shelves of pharmacies, chain stores, and the like. 

“We believe [these stores] are not for our target customers at the moment. Moreover, in order for us to list our products in these channels will incur a higher cost which we would avoid for now,” they stated.

If at all possible, they are interested to be on the shelves of beauty stores such as Ken’s Apothecary and other lifestyle stores instead.

“As our product line is quite limited at the moment, we have plans to extend our product line with ongoing R&D in order for us to enter a bigger avenue such as HORECA channels for the B2B platform,” the founders added.

Did you know: HORECA is an acronym that refers to a foodservice industry sector that sells food and/or beverages. The word HORECA itself combines the first two letters of the words: HOtel, REstaurant, CAfé, or HOtel, REstaurants, CAtering.

CHD Expert

“As our primary goal is to make A*bundant available in HORECA, we are looking to secure more funding through venture capitalists in order to further promote our products and to have our own brick-and-mortar in the coming years,” they concluded.

  • Learn more about A*bundant here.
  • Read about more Malaysian startups here.

Featured Image Credit: Heng, King, Nicholas, Justin, and Zen, co-founders of A*bundant

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Vulcan Post aims to be the knowledge hub of Singapore and Malaysia.

© 2021 GRVTY Media Pte. Ltd.
(UEN 201431998C.)