How New Brunswick’s Prelam Enterprises Freshened Up the Air Freshener Market
Moncton’s Prelam Enterprises is leading in the business of making sure your poo doesn’t stink.
The company is the maker of Just ‘a Drop, the product that founders Luc Jalbert and Don Goguen claim was the first ever to prevent odour before you, you know, go “number two.”
“Everybody kept asking ‘how much do you put in the [toilet] bowl?’ says Jalbert. “And we kept saying ‘just a drop, that’s all you need.’ That’s how the name came about.”
Officially launched in 2005 at Walmart Canada, Just ‘a Drop had to compete with air freshening heavyweights like SC Johnson and Proctor & Gamble. But Jalbert says Just ‘a Drop was the only product on shelves at the time that offered a more … preventable neutralizing liquid solution to foul bathroom odours.
“We were the only one until a few years ago when people started copying us. So for us, it was pretty easy initially to compete against them because they didn’t have a competing product,” Jalbert says. “Then some copy-cats started to show up and that’s normal in business. We had to educate consumers, so we put in a lot of money in Canada to advertise on TV [and] educate our consumers about Just ‘a Drop and its benefits, why you use it before you go and why it really works.”
Though Prelam Enterprises put a lot of work into promoting the product nationally through advertising, Jalbert says their customers are their biggest ambassadors and are the company’s number one way of advertising.
“It makes people giggle because we’re talking about ‘number twos’, so it’s not sexy to talk about, but it’s funny … People make jokes all the time,” he says. “That’s what people seem to like. They like the fact that it works and you don’t have to be embarrassed.”
The giggle factor and the fact that it’s allowing people to openly discuss the taboo topic of bowel movements were what got Just ‘a Drop some big media attention. The product has been featured on Dr. Oz, the Howard Stern Show, The Big Idea with Donny Deutsch and CBC’s Venture.
It also got attention from competitors. Last year, Reckitt Benckiser, makers of Air Wick, approached Prelam to license its formula to use in some of their products.
“Air Wick approached us to license and make us produce for them under Just ‘a Spray, a new derivative of Just ‘a Drop,’ Jalbert says. “They are water-based formulas so we produce over a million bottles for Air Wick. So ironically, a competition approached to produce for them.”
Jalbert says being approached by Air Wick showed they created something that was making a splash.
“It was a big deal. It validated that we were an innovator in a category. We were the pioneers in that space, the bathroom,” he says. “We’re not an air freshener, we’re solely focused on your ‘number two’ situation and identified that to the point where they’ve launched in eight countries already … It’s validating that we were on the right track all along and that we were innovative.”
Prelam now has several “Just ‘a” products lines. Jalbert says in the next three months Just ‘a Drop and Just ‘a Spray will be released for retail in the United States. It’s already in stores in Mexico and Chile. There are plans this spring and summer to expand in the European and Chinese markets as well.
“Just A’ Drop is going to maintain itself. It’s like a bottle of ketchup, everybody needs it when they run out. So we’re going to keep going to market,” Jalbert says. “We’re just going to keep growing markets and expanding our territories.”