A decade ago, the soap brand set out to make handwashing with soap a habit for more than 1 billion people by 2020. Here’s how it reached that goal, and why it’s still committed to making an even bigger impact in the years to come.
For over 100 years, families around the world have trusted Lifebuoy to help keep germs at bay. Now, with hygiene a greater priority than ever, the brand is coming back to where it started: the United Kingdom.
Back in 1894, Lifebuoy soap was created to help combat the disease and infection that ran rife in towns across Victorian England as a result of rapid urbanisation.
At the time, a cholera epidemic prevailed and in Lifebuoy soap, Unilever founder William Lever provided an affordable, accessible way for communities to help protect themselves from the spread of disease.
The brand’s long-standing mission to raise awareness of the importance of using soap in handwashing was reinforced through advertising, on-pack messages and local campaigning. And washing hands with Lifebuoy soap to help reduce the spread of germs was soon a habit for many.
Lifebuoy became not just one of the world’s first consumer brands, but also an agent of social change.
A brand trusted by billions
Much has changed in the years since then. The cholera pandemic passed, but in 1918 the Spanish flu followed. Years later, so did SARS, the H1N1 flu, and now Covid-19.
Meanwhile, Lifebuoy has gone global and is now sold in over 50 countries. It’s grown to become the world’s number one selling hygiene soap brand, and its campaigns to promote the power of handwashing with soap to help reduce the spread of germs have reached more than 1 billion people.
But that mission – to protect people by inspiring good handwashing habits – remains the same.
Over a century since its launch, Lifebuoy is still trusted by families all over the world. And that’s why it’s now coming back to the UK, where it all started.
New products and a new educational campaign
Lifebuoy is re-introducing its Classic Red Bar Soap to stores across the UK from August, along with some new members of the family.
Lifebuoy’s 2020 line-up will also comprise Hand Sanitiser Gel, Hand Hygiene Wipes, Hand Sanitiser Spray, Liquid Handwash and Moisturising Hand Cream + Anti-bac – a hydrating cream enriched with antibacterial ingredients.
And it’s not just the products that are set to make an impact. Lifebuoy is introducing sanitation stations in stores, cafés and cinemas too, making it easy for the British public to keep their hands clean as they begin a cautious return to the new normality.
Lifebuoy is also adapting its behaviour-change campaign for UK audiences.
The campaign – which has reached a vast international audience with messages about the importance of handwashing with soap and the most effective ways and times to do it – will be delivered in more than 4,000 UK schools from September. It’s a move set to reach more than 1 million children and their families.
Thousands of children will also be provided with products and kits filled with information about how to make good handwashing part of everyday life. And free digital kits will be available for anyone to download.
All materials draw on Lifebuoy’s expertise and experience. And to ensure the brand provides the most credible advice, Lifebuoy has worked closely with external experts – including specialists from the Royal Society of Public Health (RSPH) – to create the UK programme.
On a mission to improve handwashing habits
“For over a century, Lifebuoy has played a crucial role in helping to reduce the spread of infection. As well as getting our products to communities, we are on a mission to improve handwashing habits around the world, helping over 1 billion people since 2010,” says Global Executive Vice President of Unilever’s Skin Cleansing category, Samir Singh.
“This simple habit can make a huge difference, and we want to play our part by helping people do everything within their power to keep themselves and their communities safe through Covid-19.”
Chris Barron, Vice President of Unilever’s Beauty & Personal Care division in the UK & Ireland, adds: “The re-introduction of Lifebuoy to the UK & Ireland market has never been more important than it is now.
“Our role is not just to provide people with great products to use at home or on-the-go, but also to remind them about the importance of a good hand hygiene regime.”
Historic images provided by Unilever Archives
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