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Ethical push finds ready market for Wild Child

A COMBINATION of head lice, Shane Gould and a carefully deployed marketing plan has enabled a Margaret River business to develop a range of natural health products for Australia and the world.

Wild Child’s first product, Quit Nits, was released onto the market as an alternative to chemical lice treatments

“My daughter came home with head lice and the smell of the treatment turned my stomach and burnt her scalp, so I went to the library and started researching traditional medicine,”

Wild Child chief executive officer Leanne Preston said.

“I knew then it would be my business and I knew it would be a global business.”

Ms Preston believes innovation has underpinned the success of Wild Child and won the battle for shelf space in chemists, supermarkets and health food stores.

When the business was first established, Wild Child sought the services of a traditional advertising agency to get the word out. But it soon became apparent the sales just weren’t adding up.

Ms Preston made a decision to change direction and focus on public relations, and on aligning the brand with events that would attract the target demographic – parents.

A friendship with swimming star Shane Gould provided a unique marketing opportunity, with Ms Gould actively promoting Wild Child whenever possible.

“I just really admire Shane Gould, she’s one of Australia’s legends and she also wouldn’t put her name to anything she didn’t believe in,” Ms Preston said.

“She (Gould) can talk to parents and it’s not a paid endorsement.”

This month Wild Child is working with a company called Oceanic Water Babies for an event called Swim Baby.

At Swim Baby, parents will get the opportunity to listen to Ms Gould discuss tips to help children gain confidence in the water.

Ms Preston believes events like Swim Baby add value to the Wild Child range of products and build on the strong ethical values to which the brand aspires.

Ms Gould said she really admired Ms Preston and thought there might be the possibility of a mutually beneficial commercial association.

"It’s a synergistic relationship – I have the swimming coach online web site and she promotes that as I promote Swim Baby," Ms Gould said.

"There’s no money exchanged, it’s just goodwill," she said.

Ms Gould became involved with Wild Child at the point where the last batch of Quit Nits was being refined in the back shed in Ms Preston’s garden.

She said she admired Ms Preston’s quiet determination and her ability to move forward without dragging the bad experiences of the past with her.

"We both went to hear Anita Roddick talk (the founder of The Body Shop) and I learnt a lot about what Anita calls vigilante consumers," Ms Gould said.

These consumers shape the market by refusing to purchase items produced by businesses that are involved in unethical behaviour, such as child labour.

Vigilante consumers will force the market to support environmental and socially responsible businesses, Ms Gould said.

Behind the thoughtful marketing strategy a strong business team and a dedicated board keep the wheels turning and the expansion plans rolling out, including a determination to take the products into the global market.

Ms Preston was a finalist in the Telstra Business Woman Award in 1999-2000 and was invited to speak at the Australian Marketing Institute’s Annual Awards Night about her innovative and successful approach to marketing Wild Child.

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