Gran's Remedy

by Insiders Dunedin

At some point in everyone's life, you would have used some sort of product to rid the smell of your shoes. In most cases, you probably would have used a product called Gran's Remedy. A common household name renowned for its use with footwear. However, what most people don't know and what surprised us is that it is a product founded and run from Dunedin. 

We sat down with Gran's Remedy CEO Jim Reay to find out about the company and it's product. A chartered account, Jim has looked after the company since it's beginning and provided a great insight into the companies beginnings and how it has changed over the years. 

Originally Gran's Remedy started right back in the 80's with origins dating even earlier. Everything, including the manufacturing originated in Dunedin and the company still has firm roots in the city. Although, the manufacturing and marketing have shifted out of the city the owners still reside in Dunedin and the Central Otago region where the daily operations continue. 

The product was the result of Wayne Nicholson, who as a kid suffered from smelly feet. A conversation overheard by his grandmother complaining about his feet encouraged her to act. Between his grandmother and her friend the conversation reminded them of an old concoction that they thought might help. The two whipped up a batch to trial that proved to work perfectly in alleviating the feet odour. 

The resultant product was found to be very effective in stopping smell with some benefit for sweaty feet. The formula contains Potassium Aluminium Sulphate, Zinc Oxide, Zinc Undecylenate, Talc, Manuka Oil and  Kawakawa Oil. The product works by drying the environment that the bacteria and fungus which cause the smell thrive in. Simply placing half a teaspoon in each shoe that you generally use and the shoes you occasionally use in that week for 7 consecutive days is all that is required. The result, a product that inhibits the growth of those smell producing bacteria for six months or more. A result they stand by with their six-month guarantee.

Smelly feet are a common problem amongst teenagers that most grow out of. Although, Wayne was one of those lucky to grow out of the problem the product was somewhat forgotten about. A conversation later in his life whilst working at the wharf with Bill Gayler raised the topic of smelly feet.  This prompted a discussion around the product his grandmother introduced him to whilst he suffered as a teenager. After further discussion the two of them alongside their wife's thought it was not a bad idea and continued to mix up the formula. 

The product was first produced using cake style blenders and grinding the Aluminium with coffee grinders. Selling the product by hawking it around local pharmacies for a few years until meeting Jim Davis who owned a company called Pharmabroker Sales Ltd in Auckland. The company contained a team of reps that will visit every Pharmacy in the country at least once a month. 

Pharmabroker Sales took on the product and promoted it. The product got a great reception and ended up taking a nationwide roll out. From selling a product in small bags, the shift was made to plastic containers similar to what they are sold in today. The cake styled mixers and small coffee grinders were replaced with concrete mixers and an imported industrial coffee grinder. The company continued to grow and went from one concrete mixer to three. Eventually, the demand outgrew what could be produced in the kitchen and the move to outsource the production was inevitable. 

Production has been handled by a number of manufacturers throughout the years. Various manufacturers coming and going many facing issues with the powdered nature of the product and its invasive ability to get everywhere. A property that can be attributed to its success; the ability to get into every available surface of the shoe, but a nightmare for manufacturers who also deal with liquids. A combination that does not work well when trying to avoid contamination between products. 

The current manufacturer has been settled now for the past 4 - 5 years with Factory Manufacturing Limited based in Waiuku. Produced in the old factory originally built and owned by Nestle, who use to make Barley sugars. A contract based price per container relationship has worked well to manufacture the product where Factory Manufacturing Limited take full responsibility of the whole manufacturing process including the ordering of all raw materials. 

Gran's Remedy what started as an old concoction now has three products; Original, Cooling and scented. The formula is exactly the same apart from the cooling and scented products producing a different smell. The cooling product contains a peppermint scent and the Scented product a Citrus Plaisir. 

The marketing of the product is still handled by Pharmabroker Sales within New Zealand. But, overseas markets have grown to the point where for every pottle sold in New Zealand, two are sold offshore. The dominant markets including Japan, Korea and Europe in particular Germany. The result of using a German distributor that distributes the product throughout Europe.

The demand for the product is still strong but can be quite lumpy especially in relation to the exchange rate. In times where the NZ dollar is strong makes it very hard to sell the product when competing with lower priced alternatives. Although, such cheaper competitors products are not as effective with most being a more deodorant style product that are continually used to mask the smell. The correlation to the savings that can be had by using Gran's Remedy which kills the odour is hard to make when looking at prices. However, when comparing the products over a six-month period it is easy to see that Gran's Remedy is actually the cheaper product by not having to continually use it on a regular basis. 

Although the company has been pretty quite on the marketing front over the past three years, they do admit, it has been difficult to find an effective channel like they had experienced in the past. Back in the day TV commercials use to work very well as options were slim with only a few channels you would be able to get many eyes on a small campaign. Whereas, with so many options out there now it is hard to find a channel that gets you good bang for your buck. Despite this, they are about to run a series of advertising campaigns to refresh the awareness of the product and maintain the household name status they have. 

However, with all this in mind Gran's Remedy believe the main reason for the success of the product (apart from that the product works and can be considered cost effective) is contributed to the loyalty of the Pharmacies. In New Zealand, it is generally only available but not limited to Pharmacies. A conscious decision that was made based on a few reasons. Pharmacies provided credibility, but it was also originally sold through Pharmacies and Gran's Remedy wanted to return the loyalty that had been received. They do not want to be selling a product in supermarkets or other stores down the road from their loyal Pharmacies who might undercut them through various in-store promotions. More interestingly, when shopping in a supermarket or other similar stores peoples shopping behaviours are more likely going to be direct where a shopper will be shopping with the product in mind. Whereas, in a Pharmacy setting most shopper will be going there seeking advice on which product to use. An environment in which Gran's Remedy wanted to be located as the product would be recommended by staff as opposed to sitting on a shelf waiting for a customer to consider it. 

Gran's Remedy is definitely a product that can be considered a trusted household name. Most would have used it at some point in their lives at the very least would have heard of it, or know someone that has used it. The product is very effective in killing odours as opposed to masking smells and in that regard can be considered a cost effective solution to smelly feet. If you, or someone you know suffers from foot odour problems it is a product that can be used with great confidence.  Backed by a six-month guarantee, you can't go wrong!

Be sure to visit your local Pharmacy where you will be sure to find the Grand Remedy range.

Otherwise visit their website - for more information. 

Post submitted by Joshua Jeffery


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