Suggesting someone should scrape something metal over his or her tongue, on a daily basis, may sound like a pretty tough sell.
Then charging them £10 to £30 for the privilege might seem like well, taking the proverbial Mickey Bliss?
But a small plucky British up-start, AMANO Products, has made a virtue of this challenge – and in 2017 become the best selling tongue scraper brand in Selfridges, Harrods and Planet Organic. Discerning consumers are even opting for the AMANO brand over competitor products that are a mere fraction of the cost.
And all of this has been achieved on a marketing budget shoestring.
* The quote is Rhik Samadder, The Guardian's Gadget King - Dec 2016
Mano Manoharan the man behind the AMANO brand is an E&Y Chartered Accountant by qualification – but Marketer by trial and error.
“30 years ago I drank beer and smoked and thus often suffered from the dreaded 'morning-after bottom of a birdcage syndrome’. A friend gave me an Indian metal tongue scraper to try and it was a revelation. I wondered why ‘tongue scraping’ was only a niche routine in the West, particularly having researched the medical benefits. It seemed the scrapers that were on sale in the UK appeared too cheap and nasty, for a ‘Western’ market. Secondly I felt the oral care FMCGs were more comfortable selling products that dealt with the symptoms of poor oral care. Whereas I felt tongue scraping could make a significant impact on the upfront causes of poor oral care. That was the opportunity and that’s why I set out on a mission to make tongue scraping as normal as flossing or using a mouthwash. And this meant designing and marketing a deluxe range of scrapers, suitable for a sceptical ‘Western’ market ”.
So what are the key elements of AMANO’s marketing success?
Focus: AMANO Products manufactures and markets a single concept - designer tongue scrapers. That’s it, no distractions.
Relentless communication of the benefits: ‘It's not just about bad breath’ we keep saying. Though the fact that 80% of bad breath comes from the tongue is pretty compelling. Dental decay, taste perception, heart health and mouth cancer are all connected to a dirty tongue. Oh and professional footballers performance it seems! We got 5 Premier League Teams to trial our products on this interesting piece of research by The Eastman Dental Hospital.
Sorry, only quality materials allowed: That means European 18/10 Austenitic Steel – not inferior Chinese steel or plastic like many of the other brands.
Longer lasting credentials: The AMANO is built to last (we have several customers who are using their AMANO 20 years on!) AMANO’s are most definitely not ‘disposable’ like the plastic competition.
A ‘classy’ look & feel: The Italian crafted AMANO ‘Core’ range comes in 9 different snazzy designs, with names to match – making it a grooming gadget to be cherished – not hidden away.
Comfortable to use: The secret to getting consumers to try and then adopt tongue scraping is to make it as comfortable, quick and rewarding experience as possible. Using an AMANO takes less than 10 seconds, with no ‘gag affect’ and you can see the detritus being dramatically removed. We call that an all round rewarding experience.
Offering demonstrable value for money: Charging £15 might appear expensive at first, but the superior performance and enduring quality of an AMANO makes it superb value compared to competing cheaper and disposable brands.
On a shoestring marketing budget, smartly applied, AMANO has certainly raised awareness of the myriad benefits of tongue scraping – improving oral health, wider health and even the quality of life for many – to the point we are now the best selling tongue scraper brand in quality stores such as Selfridges, Harrods and Planet Organic.
(*We have even worked with The Malnutrition Task Force – reviving fading palates for the 1 million UK ‘sufferers’ of malnutrition due to a fading taste perception - through a simple and doable strategy).
Encouraging someone to scrape something metal over the tongue can have rich rewards …
Background to tongue cleansing
The surface of our tongue is rather like a deep-pile carpet, trapping food debris and bacteria. This noxious cocktail has been medically shown to increase bad breath, dental decay and plaque. Whilst also inhibiting taste perception.
The AMANO Tongue Cleanser is based on a 2000 year Roman design. The nickel and chrome alloy head is gently drawn down the tongue’s surface - elegantly removing all the debris in 2 or 3 strokes.
Tongue cleansing was all in vogue back in the C18th and C19th, with George Washington and Victorian Aristocracy firm advocates of the routine. You can check out their silver and ivory tongue cleansers at Mount Vernon Museum, Virginia USA and the V&A Museum, London.