Two warring paint companies Sadolin and Plascon are in a cut-throat competition with lots of mudslinging in an attempt to dominate the crowded market.
The bad blood started after Japanese paint company, Kansai Plascon, bought off Sadolin Paints East Africa, which for over 50 years held the license for Sadolin Paints, a brand of Akzo Nobel from the Netherlands.
Plascon went into overdrive, marketing and advertising Plascon paint as original Sadolin in a new skin.
According to the sale agreement, Kansai Plascon was supposed to market both Plascon and Sadolin Paints concurrently for a year in order for the new entrant not to kill off old Sadolin, which has been in Uganda for over 50 years.
But Plascon had other ideas. It engaged the media, advertising agencies and all Sadolin distributors and sellers, the simple message being Plascon is Sadolin, “same quality, different name”.
This infuriated Akzo Nobel, offered its Sadolin license to Regal Paints, a company already operating in the market.
But this came months after Plascon had saturated the market with its products and negative sentiments as Sadolin products dwindled in the market. By the time Plascon went public, it had done the heavy lifting, including buying off and changing the mindset and marketing language and images of former Sadolin distributors and sellers.
Regal Paints is marketing Regal and Sadolin paints as two separate products, stressing that their Sadolin is the original Sadolin, which Plascon claims it bought and rebranded as Plascon.
This has created confusion with both companies riding on the Sadolin brand success.
The branding of products by both Sadolin and Plascon are similar, except for pricing whereby Plascon products are on the higher side.
A 20-litre bucket of Plascon paint goes for about Shs258,000, compared to Sadolin’s at Shs240,000. A 5-litre tin of Plascon paint is at 55,000 while Sadolin is at Shs40,000.
Mildred Tusingize, a sales representative of Sadolin Paints agency, Saltos Handling Services at Hardware City Arcade in Nakasero, says their Sadolin products are original and of higher quality because the license is by the brand owners Akzo Nobel.
Tusingize says although Sadolin sort of re-entered the market, it is slowly but surely regaining ground because the name runs deep.
She admits that Plascon has eaten into Sadolin’s market, but they are continuously sensitising clients on the developments.
Ms Asha Namusere of World Beam Services, formerly a Sadolin agent and now Plascon’s, says Sadolin is now Plascon and that is their narrative to the market. She says while they are selling old Sadolin stocks to clients who insist on them, they have got instructions from Plascon to return all Sadolin products for rebranding as Plascon.
Indeed this reporter witnessed several buckets and tins of Sadolin being prepared for return to the factory.
Ms Namusere admits that all is not rosy for Plascon as getting out the Sadolin name and image in the minds of many clients, especially those from upcountry, is tough.
Namusere’s marketing line is what all former Sadolin dealers, now Plascon’s, propagate in a choreographed manner; a testament to Plascon’s marketing efforts to dominate the market.
Some Regal Paints agents are still holding onto Regal products not mixing with Sadolin, an apparent attempt to watch the market.
Interestingly, many Plascon sellers, without any prompting, suspiciously said if one is not interested in Plascon paint he or she should go for Peacock Paints because, as they put it, “the new Sadolin is Regal”.
Mr Ali Ssali, the sales and marketing manager of Kyengera Trading Store opposite Nakasero Market, says as far as he is concerned Sadolin is now Plascon.
Tusingize says they are aware of the mudslinging of Sadolin Paints, adding that it is only a matter of time before, as she put it, “the truth comes out”.
This reporter saw several Sadolin marketers moving door-to-door spreading the word about Sadolin.
Other paint products are also ramping up the market and they include, among others, Peacock, Royal and Dura Coat.