L’Occitane Brand’s African Connection

When French skin care company, L’Occitane, came out with a new limited edition shea butter hand cream, it departed from its usual simple packaging design and chose a colorful traditional African textile pattern, called mudcloth, instead.

Aside from the fact that the design is eye-catching and that tribal prints are in fashion, mudcloth, also known as Bogolan, seemed like an unusual choice for a company associated with the fragrances of Provence.

On second thought, from a branding perspective, it made perfect sense. The African-themed packaging gave L’Occitane an opportunity to remind consumers of their products’ much celebrated key ingredient -– shea butter, the ivory-colored fat extracted from the nut of the West African shea tree and used in fine cosmetics, chocolate and medicines. L’Occitane’s limited edition hand cream set also comes in three exotic African scents: Desert Rose from Morocco; Hibiscus Flower from Egypt, and Cocoa Flower from the Ivory Coast. Plus, mudcloth is a quintessentially African technique of dying and printing cotton organically and naturally without any chemicals –- just dyes from bark and leaves, mud to oxidize colors, and water from the Niger. As a brand story, it holds together.