If there is one thing that you got to give to black South Africans is their ability to reposition brands and products in the market. Brands produce products for specific purposes then they find other uses of the products to suit their unique needs. In this article I am looking at some of the popular products and brands that black South Africans found different uses for.

1. Dish washing liquid (Sunlight) Hair Shampoo
When the Lever Brothers launched the world’s first packaged, branded laundry soap, Sunlight in 1884. What they had in mind was to launch a dishwashing liquid they promised consumers “that a little goes a long way”, not a shampoo that will be used to wash off a relaxer.

2. MatchsticksEarbuds
Instead of being used to start fire, someone in the township thought maybe I can use this clean my ears. Then the matchsticks became popular as an earbud. To make the matchsticks softer on the ears some people cover with toilet paper.

3. Light Brown Shoe Polish (Kiwi) – Makeup
According to Busisiwe Ntsamba, back in the days when most black women couldn’t afford to buy make-up, they resorted to using the light brown shoe polish such as Kiwi as make-up to put a “matt” finish to their faces. To this day, some women still use it.

4. Petroleum Jelly (Vaseline) Lip Gloss
The petroleum jelly is probably one of the most versatile products. There are many uses for it. One of the famous uses for the petroleum jelly is it being used as a lip gloss, to make their lips shiny.

4. Jeye’s Fluid – Bad Luck Remover
Jeye’s Fluid is a disinfectant fluid that is for outdoor use only. It can be used to kill bacteria in your garden and to get rid of bad odour in sewages. In the townships some people use it to bath with the belief that it will eliminate bad luck in their lives. Others also the Jeye’s Fluid to heal stomach bugs.

5. Fabric Conditioner (Sta-Soft) – Air-Freshener
The fabric condition is made to make clothes soft, while leaving them with a long lasting fragrance. Because of that some people use it in their cars as an air freshner particularly the Sta-soft fabric conditioner tube.

6. Telephone Directory (Yellow Pages) – Toilet Paper
The purpose of the telephone directory is to help find contact details of local business and institutions. Because of the softness of the paper, you will often find the Yellow Pages in many toilets in the townships.

7. Sunlight Green Bar – Toothpaste and Deodorant
The Sunlight green bar was voted as South Africa’s iconic brand. Regardless of your background, one way or the other, you have an encountered this product. It is one of the multi-purposeful products in the market, some people use it as a toothpaste or deodorant. For children, it is used to clear stomach and for those with dreadlocks, it is used for moulding.

The underlying reason for people to find other uses for these products and brands is the socio-economic conditions of our societies. Someone people cannot simply afford some of the products, hence they end up using them for something else. Other people also like experimenting with the products and if the outcome is good they stick to them, or they find it hard to get the products in stores.
If you know other brands or products that are used for what they were initially intended for, please feel free to leave your comments below. Also do remember to get in touch with @PatOnBrands on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and SnapChat

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Thokozani Patrick Mahlangu

Thokozani Mahlangu is an internationally certified digital marketing professional and an Mcom Business Management graduate from the University of Johannesburg. He is the Chief Brand Creator of Pat onBrands and Pat onFitness- a fitness movement through which organizes weekly runs under the banner #RunWithPat.

This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. Wow,this article is very interesting. Well done bro.

  2. This is so true. Others are: Coca cola for cleaning blood stains, Rama as a cooking oil, etc.

  3. Wow!! Spot on @PatOnBrands
    And there are other products we as blacks have found other uses for..

    Interesting read indeed!

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