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Building Brand Trust in Chemicals: DKSH Podcast feat. Ash Martin

Our latest podcast is out! Join in the conversation with Ash Martin, Senior Manager, DKSH Performance Materials, Australia. In this episode, we discuss the revolutionization of the chemical distribution landscape through digital strategies. 
In this engaging discussion, Ash takes us on the journey of uncovering the origin and success of Luna, a DKSH own brands product. Ash highlights how digital strategies help in building product brand identity and increase the trust of customers in the specialty chemicals market.


Listen to our brand-new episode here: Spotify , Amazon Music, Apple Podcast



Hey everyone, Lanie here! Today, we'll have an insightful discussion with Ash Martin, Senior Manager, Specialty Chemicals Industry at DKSH Performance Materials Australia. We will talk about the digital transformation journey involved in creating a product brand in the chemical industry. No doubt this will be an engaging chat where we can learn a lot from Ash's expertise and experience in the field. Welcome to the show, Ash! How are you doing today?


Hello Lanie, thank you for having me. I'm doing great, excited to be here and chat with you all the way from Melbourne.


Before we start, can you please give our listeners a brief overview of your career background and experience? 


My name is Ash Martin. I'm based in Melbourne, Australia. I'm an Industrial Chemist by background and also have an MBA in Technology Management. In my early years, I worked in technical and sales roles. Now I'm in business development - I've been working in the specialty chemicals industry for 26 years in total. I started with DKSH in early 2021 when the Business Unit Performance Materials acquired our local companies in Australia and New Zealand, where I was the General Manager responsible for our local product development and manufacturing. Following the business integration, my responsibilities expanded to include all of our global own-branded business, a role I continue to greatly enjoy today.

Fascinating journey! 26 years of experience - you've really seen this industry evolve (laugh)
Let’s jump into our main topic: Digital Product Brand Creation in the Chemical Distribution Industry. Ash, creating a brand in such a technical field sounds tricky. How does one even start, and why is branding important in B2B?


You're right, Lanie - creating a product brand in specialty chemicals may seem unconventional, but it follows the principle that a brand's power and value transcend the nature of the product. Just like in the automotive industry, where brands like Mercedes and Toyota signify more than just the vehicle's ability to transport you from one place to another. In the chemical industry, a product brand encapsulates value, trust, and quality. Despite the perception that chemicals are commodity items sold on specs, branding allows differentiation and elevation, much like branded vs generic pharmaceuticals.


Intriguing point. So would you say branded chemical products are crucial? Why so?


Absolutely. Branded chemicals embody trust and reliability - highly valued by customers. People, by nature, seek assurance that the products they choose are safe, effective, and delivered efficiently. This is evident from the growth in sales of Own Brand products in major supermarket chains in countries like the UK and Australia. These products offer a quality assurance that customers are increasingly leaning towards, suggesting that even in the chemical industry, a product brand can significantly influence purchasing decisions.


Speaking of our branding journey, I'm proud of the success we've achieved with Luna over the past 20+ years, can you share the history of the Luna brand and any challenges you faced while establishing it?


The Luna brand was conceived over 20 years ago by DKSH Performance Materials as a strategic move to add value to basic specialty chemicals sourced from emerging markets. It was part of our broader initiative to not only represent but also enhance Client brands in the marketplace. 
One of the key challenges was ensuring that Luna stood out in a highly competitive and commoditized industry, and establishing trust and recognition for a brand that originated from less established markets.

Making Luna stand out was much like convincing someone to try a new cuisine.


I love that analogy, Ash. And what benefits has the Luna brand brought to the table?


Luna has significantly contributed to our role as a market expansion services provider. By focusing on marketing and distribution while allowing partners to specialize in innovation and production, we've optimized efficiencies and balanced demand with supply. This synergy between our branding and partners' capabilities has driven Luna's success.


With the digital era upon us, how have you and DKSH Performance Materials leveraged digital tools and strategies to promote the Luna Product brand?


We've fully embraced digital transformation - platforms like DKSH Discover, our portal for searching and online ordering specialty chemicals and ingredients .have increased Luna's visibility, while digital promotions convey unique personality. Digital realm offers unparalleled opportunities to engage with our audience and convey our value proposition in innovative ways.


And when it comes to successful product brand creation in the chemical industry, what are the key factors? Also, how do you measure success?


The keys to success are clear decision-making on what the product brand stands for, rigorous support for technical, quality, performance claims, and a deep understanding of market needs and applications. We measure success by product brand resonance with our target audience, market penetration, and ultimately, its impact on our business performance.


Looking ahead, with emerging technologies like AI, how do you see the future of content creation in specialty chemicals? And how do you see digital transformation shaping content creation?


The future lies in shifting from traditional chemical data presentation to highlighting application value and creating content that clearly communicates the benefits and solutions our products offer. 


You brought up an interesting point about balance. How do you see technology and human connection working together in this field?


I think technology transforms how we access information and engage with our audience, but the human element remains irreplaceable. Our sales managers' in-person visits to customer sites play a vital role in building relationships and understanding needs in a way that digital content alone cannot. Digital tools complement these efforts by ensuring our brand and products remain top of mind and accessible around the clock.


It's clear you're passionate about this, Ash. And it's inspiring to see how DKSH Performance Materials is leading the way in integrating digital strategies with traditional industry practices. And I truly think it's a reminder that no matter the industry, the principles of good branding and customer engagement remain constant. 
Before we wrap up Ash, I’d love to hear your big-picture thoughts. What's your vision for the chemical industry's adoption of new technologies?


My vision is for DKSH Performance Materials to lead the way in harnessing digital tools for a more efficient, safe, and prosperous future. By embracing digital transformation, we can streamline processes, enhance safety, and drive innovation, ensuring that we stay at the forefront of the industry's evolution.


Ash, thank you for sharing your insights and experiences with us today. It's clear that the journey of brand creation in the chemical industry is both complex and rewarding, and your work with the Luna product brand is a testament to the power of strategic branding and digital transformation.


Thank you, Lanie. It's been great discussing these topics with you and hopefully inspiring your listeners.

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