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Thailand: Srichand—the rebirth of a legacy

By Alisa Chau 12 November 2020

Header image courtesy of Ad Addict 

Thailand is a country with a climate that causes makeup lovers to become unavoidably shrouded in sweat, grease, and dust. To combat these unfortunate conditions, a finely milled, loose powder is the item to do the trick. A household name spanning generations, Srichand (ศรีจันทร์) is a local Thai cosmetics company that has nailed the formula, with their most widely used product being the iconic loose “fragrant pink powder” (ผงหอมสีชมพู) that has helped women feel and look their best even in the worst of heat.

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Origins

Being in the market for seventy years is not as easy as it seems. Srichand has humble beginnings, being founded in 1948—originally under the name Saha’osott (สหโอสถ)—by an independent pharmacy in Bangkok. Not long after, the brand purchased a natural, herb-based powder formula from an army doctor named Srichand. The powdered concoction later became the foundations of the product many Thais know and love today, with the brand changing its name to that of the aforementioned doctor’s. The powder was promoted as fitting for both the face and body, and it was actually effective for reducing acne whilst offering extra oil absorption.

The first edition packaging consists of a ziplock baggie featuring a Thewda (เทวดา)—a Thai mystical being akin to an angel—smack in the middle, surrounded by an ornate sun and swirling decals. Aside from being converted into a box-style packaging and changing the background to light blue, this design had remained (almost) the same for over half a century until their most recent rebranding campaign in 2016.

An icon dethroned

At the core of the rebranding project, there was the central question of “How do we inspire Thai people to support Thai brands?” Prior to the big switch-up, Srichand was becoming a sunset business—no matter how high quality and effective the powder was, many young women had begun to turn away. People were relegating it as merely a product from the past—something they would only find in their grandma’s drawer. It was even discovered during the research phase before the relaunch, that some people would pour out the contents of the powder into another container before use, motivated by the fear of being seen as out of style if they were caught with the blue box.

Third generation heir to the business and current CEO of Srichand Rawit Hanutsaha was determined to not only revive, but also to transform the brand to appeal to the new generation. For decades, his predecessors had smooth-sailed with operating tactics that remained unchanged. It was even revealed that when Rawit first took over in 2006, sales records were still being marked using pen and paper! An entire overhaul was much needed.

And of course, this meant saying goodbye to the Thewda that has been sitting guard on every single powder box for the previous sixty years.

Keep scrolling for the rest of the article 👇

By John McMahon 15 November 2019

The Rebirth

In June of 2015, a new video ad was launched, featuring a British woman describing the qualities of “the best translucent powder”. She turns to the camera and asks “What brand do you think of?” as she holds up a round purple box with a plastic sheet stuck to its front.

To the surprise of most viewers, the purple tape on the powder box was peeled back to reveal the name, Srichand. By hiring foreign actors, emphasizing the Japanese technology behind its new powder puff, and having the narration in English, many assumed that the ad was for a non-Thai brand, with a top comment detailing that the viewer was expecting a high street brand like Shu Uemura instead.

After the ad aired, the company redoubled their efforts to emphasize the Thai-ness of its product. It relied on buzz created by local influencers in the beauty blogging sphere to build up a sense of relatability and reliability around the product.

The packaging now uses flowers as its central component, with different variations for different series and product types. The main series for translucent and loose texture powders feature the monogram in gold decals on a gorgeous lid of flowers over a backdrop of royal purple, forest green, or pastel blue backgrounds on the lids to distinguish the product type. This visual motif was inspired by the popularity of floral patterns in Thai fashion during the 1940s to 50s, harkening back to the era during the brand’s conception and giving the powder box a sweet, vintage look. The blocky, angular lettering on the powder case is now replaced by a simple monogram that is at the same time reminiscent of the old font, whilst also coming across as refined and modern.

Keep scrolling for the rest of the article 👇

The product series mainly remained the same, and so did the bestselling item. The same fragrant translucent pink powder had now successfully secured its place as one of the must-have items to combat the Thai heat and sweat induced breakouts for the current generation. Other cosmetics products were gradually introduced as well, but as Rawit explained, from formulation to packaging, the products had to be able to meet the needs and fit into the lifestyle of Thai people. This was an area he was confident he knew very well—and the sharp rise in sales since 2016 has proven that to be true.

Infusing the brand with aesthetic markers that are noticeably Thai was a way to reintroduce local culture to a generation that grew up with K-pop and American films to Srichand. By returning to local sensibilities and updating them, the brand was able to recapture the Thai audience that they set out to inspire.

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Alisa Chau

Junior editor

Always down for an adventure, Alisa’s general approach to life (and anything, really) is to “just go with the flow.” She believes that the most unforgettable moments are the most spontaneous ones. One thing she will always be certain of, however, is her love for the band My Chemical Romance and potato-based food.

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