Small firm taking on the giants

“Fighting for shelf space in the outlets of large retail food has for years been a major obstacle faced by Omautiro Detergents”, says the firm’s owner, Adelheid Butkus.

“Store managers mostly use the excuse that local products and unknown brands wouldn’t move and give this as the reason for denying us space or relegating our products to less prominent shelves”, says Butkus.

Failure to get the firm’s range of soap powder and other household cleaning material on supermarket shelves has meant limited exposure to the public.

Instead Omautiro Detergents had to be satisfied with public sector clients who mostly procure through tenders.

To reduce dependence on a fickle client base Butkus explored other ways to penetrate the private sector.

This meant distributing through smaller grocery stores and direct selling on a door-to-door basis. In fact it was direct marketing that underscored acceptability of Omautiro’s product range in a competitive market dominated by imported products.

Rather than adopting a confrontational stance with supermarket chains Adelheid Butkus decided on more aggressive marketing. She convinced store managers that her products are as good as the imported ones and even more competitively priced.

To demonstrate seriousness Butkus had to offer an incentive and this has resulted in the firm deciding to run in-store promotions at outlets of leading supermarket chain Shoprite.

Focus will be on promotion of Omautiro’s WIN detergent range. Other products will be promoted over the coming months.

Omautiro Detergents cc was bought as a going concern in 2001, after Butkus became aware of her entrepreneurial flair.

Initially the firm only manufactured industrial soap powder but realising the need and spotting an opportunity in the market Butkus expanded the product range to include dish-washing liquid, household cleaning materials and detergents.

These lines were researched and developed by Butkus and the process involved getting South African Bureau of Standards (SABS) approval.

The WIN soap powder competition will be run at Shoprite outlets around the country during the months of June and July. Prizes on offer include microwave ovens, meat grillers, kettles, steam irons and frying pans.

Committed to expand her business, Adelheid Butkus continuously explores ways to hone her own- and the skills of the work force of five.

In this connection Omautiro Detergents participates in various capacity building activities of SMEs Compete, a firm that supports growth and employment creation in the SME sector.

SMEs Compete works closely with government economic ministries and business support service organizations like NCCI and JCC.

June 2006
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