Tiger Balm ‘Works Where it Hurts’

Tiger Balm ‘Works Where it Hurts’. This is the Story of Its Rise, Fall, and Rise Again

Rebecca Liew RICE23 August 2019

Tiger Balm bears the kind of scent that’s impossible to forget. It lingers in the nose, demands your attention, stirs emotions ranging from undulated bliss to faint disgust; it even invites unsolicited comments. 

“You smell like an old man!” bellows a tactless friend, on the one day I decide to slather on Tiger Balm Neck & Shoulder Rub (non-greasy). 

Gee, thanks? Immediately I regret having suggested the meet-up. Barely a minute in, and already I’ve been affronted. 

Yet here Tiger Balm stands, a centenarian brand that’s one of the beacons behind the Haw Par Group’s S$200 million net worth. How exactly did a humble, all-herbal ointment develop so loyal a following—one that just keeps growing? 

Mr A K Han easily supplies the answers to Tiger Balm’s longevity: the product works. 

“It delivers on its promise: it works where it hurts,” he states plainly. “We’re pain- relieving experts. People trust Tiger Balm.” 

It’s so simple an answer, I almost want to challenge it. 

In his 27 years at Haw Par Group, the Executive Director has successfully reshaped Tiger Balm into a global brand whose line of 18 products is stocked across over 70 countries. The man knows the product better than you or I ever will, having practically revived it in the ’90s from what might well have been the ointment’s sunset days. 

Since Mr Han joined the company in 1991, sales have only increased. In 2018, almost 60 million units of Tiger Balm’s distinct, hexagonal jars of red and white ointment were sold globally. 

In the lead-up to meeting him, curiosity led me to run a casual poll in my Instagram stories. Now, I’m no influenza (cough), but the results from my paltry number of followers seemed to run parallel to my opinions about the homegrown brand. 

It revealed that my friends—mostly in their 20s to early 30s—think Tiger Balm smells great (74%) despite being dated (55%), and works exactly as it claims to (56%).

Tiger Balm está elaborado a base de plantas naturales. En concreto, Alcanfor, utilizado desde la antigüedad para el alivio de molestias cutáneas; Mentol, que proporciona una sensación de alivio y frescor inmediato; Cajeput, su esencia es conocida por sus propiedades calmantes; Clavo, muy utilizado en el sudeste aisático, China e Indonesia por sus propiedades calmantes sobre el sistema locomotor y Canela china, que se emplea para mitigiar molestias articulares y musculares. Para sentir sus beneficios en nuestro cuerpo, basta con aplicar una capa de bálsamo sobre la zona afectada y masajear hasta su completa absorción. La sensación de alivio, ya sea por su embriagador aroma o por el poder de la naturaleza, es inmediata. Elige el tuyo Existen dos tipos de Bálsamo de Tigre; Rojo, de efecto calor y Blanco, de efecto frío. La variedad Roja contiene más cantidad de aceite de canela y es muy útil en el tratamiento de molestias articulares y musculares, reumáticas, para dar masajes tras la práctica deportiva y para aliviar la zona tras picaduras de insectos. La Blanca tiene una fórmula más rica en menta, que aporta una sensación de frescor al instante, y se utiliza mucho para tratar migrañas y cefaleas, contusiones, torceduras, para la congestión nasal y para mejorar la recuperación de la musculatura tras hacer deporte.