By Alan Cochrane – January 9, 2018
Luc Jalbert is on a mission to make the world less smelly, one toilet at a time.
“We started 13 years ago, with a mission to educate consumers that there is something that really works to stop the smell when you go number 2, but you have to use it before you go,” Jalbert said Tuesday. “Just put a drop or two into the toilet bowl before you sit down on the toilet with your paper, and it will create a barrier to stop the smell.”
Jalbert is the co-founder of Prelam Enterprises, a Moncton-based company that makes a variety of products that are chemically designed to surround and deodorize the smelly gas molecules associated with going to the toilet.
On Saturday, he will make his 30th trip to China, where he will announce that two of those products, Just’a Drop and Just’a Spray are now sold by major Chinese retailers, Jalbert said making deals to sell these products in cities like Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong represents a huge market with millions of potential costumers.
He said Prelam received support from Opportunities New Brunswick, which helped him make deals with distributors and retailers in China. Opportunity New Brunswick is a Crown corporation that seeks to attract and support opportunities to grow the economy and create jobs. Opportunities N.B. could not provide a spokesperson Tuesday to comment on next week’s trade mission and the support to Prelam Enterprises.
The Prelam products are developped, packaged and shipped from a single office and warehouse space on Baig Boulevard in the Moncton Industrial Park, which can produce 12 million bottles per year. The company has 12 employees, including full-time chemists, graphic artists and marketing specialists.
Besides Just’a Drop and Just’a Spray, Prelam has anti-odour sprays with catchy names like Poop-Eh!, Oh Crap, Pooping Bad and It wasn’t Me! For Valentine’s Day, there’s Love At First Poo, a toilet spray with the catch-phrase ” roses are red, violets are blue. spray in the bowl before you poo.”
The products are already sold at retailers in Canada, the U.S., Chile, Mexico and the Philippines. In Mexico, the Spanish translation is Gotaroma.
Jalbert said getting the products into China is a huge deal for him.
” I’ve always bought raw materials and packaging from China, but now I’m going back to sell the products there.”
Jalbert said he’s learned a lot about Chinese culture, language, government regulations and business practices over his 29 previous trips. One of the biggest obstacles about doing business has been language, and he’s still looking for employees who can translate marketing material from English.
Over the last 13 years, he’s heard lots of jokes about bodily functions and the smells associated with them. He’s also a bit of a David competing with corporate Goliaths who offer similar products. Without huge advertising budget, Prelam has staged a variety of promotional stunts. At one point, Jalbert set up a toilet in the middle of New York city’s Time Square, where people could sit to fill out a survey and pick up free samples.
“Free samples are great for marketing. I gave away lots of samples because I knew every time somebody tried it, they would tell 15 other people and make jokes about it, and they’d remember it.”
As he takes aim at toilet odours around the world, Jalbert is also marketing Luky 8 brand of skin creams and associated grooming products for men, These will also be available at stores in China.
Meanwhile, the company’s research and development department continues to work on industrial-strength odour elimination sprays for use in cattle barns, chicken coops, pig pens and other smelly places around the world.
JAN 8, 2018 BY JASON BOIES
In December 2016, we spoke to entrepreneur Luc Jalbert about the success of his Moncton-based company Prelam Enterprises and its Just’a Drop and Just’a Spray bathroom products. At that time, Jalbert had recently returned from a New Brunswick government-led trade mission to China. Since then, the company has pivoted with regards to their China strategy and recently announced a major breakthrough in that important market.
ONB caught up with Jalbert on the eve of his next visit to China as part of our latest trade mission, which begins on January 13.
ONB: A lot has happened for your company since 2016’s Trade Mission. Tell us about your recent success in China.
Export Success in China – Prelam Enterprises Jalbert: As of November, Prelam products are available at Aolaigo locations; that’s a major Chinese retail chain. We decided to focus our efforts on brick and mortar locations as an entry point into China, rather than e-commerce. There is very strong preference there for international brands versus domestic, at least within the growing middle class. So there is a surge in retail locations specializing in products like ours, made in New Brunswick.
We also just got confirmation that we will be moving into another chain retailer based in Hong Kong that focuses on premium foreign products, it’s very exciting news. We have really created a strong footprint in that part of the world. Thanks to our trips there with ONB and the provincial government we have learned how to effectively operate there. I have great distribution partners there now too; they ensure we have product delivered on time and are helping us with marketing and promotion.
It’s taken a year or so, but the hard work of all involved has paid off.
During our last chat, you mentioned online sales were the focus. Why the pivot from e-commerce to brick and mortar retailers?
We determined that going online first would have been a mistake because nobody knows the product. Brick and mortar was the proper starting point; it’s better for creating awareness and letting people see and sample our products for the first time. We’ll be focusing on the online space over the next year, looking to get on Alibaba, JD.com and other major online players. We will be doing plenty of targeted social media promotion as well. The key now is getting the product in front of people in stores and letting them try us out. They’ll then know what to search for when they’re shopping online.
Speaking of Alibaba, you were part of ONB’s Toronto trip this past fall. Our Export Development Team attended the Gateway ’17 event with over 20 New Brunswick-based organizations; tell us about that experience.
Events like that are essential, and Gateway was a very interesting and informative experience. It was also highly motivating. It will not be cheap to set up on Alibaba or JD.com; those platforms are expensive, but they do reach a massive consumer audience. We are now working at setting ourselves up on Chinese social media platforms like WeChat and Sina Weibo and looking to land key opinion leaders (KOL), Chinese celebrities that could endorse us on their own social media. We’re also hiring a consultant that will help us develop that brand strategy in China.
ONB is heading east again this week as part of our big multi-sector Trade Mission to China. You’re part of the delegation again, what are you hoping to accomplish this time out?
As with previous missions, we expect ONB will lead the way for us in terms of matchmaking. That’s really what this mission is about, finding new leads while further strengthening our existing relationships. I’m optimistic that more business will come from new matchmaking efforts, and that we’ll learn even more about how to do business in China.
You learn something new every time you visit. For example, since visiting last year we’ve learned about labelling; stickers require a production date and need to be translated. For our next batch — manufactured here in Moncton — we will buy and make the stickers here. Previously, we paid to get a third party to create and apply stickers for us; you learn as you go.
This will be my fourth time in China over the past year; that’s what it takes. Right now, approximately 300 million consumers make up the Chinese middle class, and over the next 24 months, that’s expected to reach 500 million. Prelam is well positioned; they love foreign brands, our early reviews are very positive, and consumers there simply aren’t used to unique products like ours. Every time I met with buyers during the last mission I was surprised to see how much people seem to love it. There is a huge opportunity for Canadian companies there.
Moncton Couple Wins Bathroom Makeover
The air was smelling sweet yesterday for a retired New Brunswick couple who won $10,000 by attempting to mask embarrassing toilet odours. The couple bought Just’a Drop bathroom odor eliminator at a Moncton Wal-Mart store and filled out a ballot to win $10,000 to renovate their bathroom.
To read more, click here.
Just’a Drop is just the thing for GI sufferers
Just’a Drop is an air freshening product developed to block (rather than mask or overpower) bathroom odours. It contains a combination of concentrated plant extracts that work to neutralize odours by forming an instant, deodorizing barrier on the surface of the toilet water – with just one drop. Simply add a single drop from the discrete bottle into the toilet before use. One smal 15 ml bottle lasts for about 400 uses.
To read more, click here.