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Ingredients With Global Flair

Sara Mason
  • As beauty brands continue to seek connections with consumers on a more global level, ingredients from around the world are becoming more prevalent.
  • Globally sourced ingredients can be used to make an emotional connection through their sourcing and global benefit.
  • Ingredients with an interesting source or source story can create an air of exotic effectiveness, something special to be prized.
  • Exotic ingredients must work to help consumers feel like part of a larger story while also connecting on a personal level.

The global marketplace has made ingredients more international, and beauty brands are looking for opportunities to find their niche using ingredients from all parts of the world. Doing so offers brands the opportunity to build a unique marketing story or brand identity that resonates with consumers around the globe. Powerful consumer-driven social responsibility and fair trade approaches have allowed globally minded brands to remain strong and invites new players to stake their claim, even in a saturated market.

While brand positioning, personality and philosophy may vary, what remains consistent are the attributes for success: emotional connection, recognition and credibility, consistency and adaptability, and innovation.

Emotional Connection

A brand is not successful unless it connects with a consumer emotionally. Through emotion, brands can achieve the loyalty of consumers by tapping into human values and aspirations that cut across cultural differences. Brands must not only deliver on their promise but offer something that consumers desire to be a part of. Beauty brand Fiafini, for example, has invested in that very message by conveying its excellence in natural skin care combined with social sustainability.

The marula tree is native to southern and western regions of Africa. It bears round, yellowish fruits that are said to be a more potent source of vitamin C than oranges. The fruits and the nourishing oil pressed from the kernels have been used for centuries by the people of South Africa and Mozambique for the therapeutic, nutritive and culinary benefits.

Brand co-founder Stasia Serafini’s lifelong search for natural and efficacious skin care has taken her around the globe in search of ingredients both powerful and safe enough to be used on sensitive skin. To that end, she has harnessed the antioxidant power of South African marula oil for its advanced anti-aging benefits in a formulation for women of all skin types. Along with her two sisters, Serafini launched Fiafini Skincare in 2012 with four products featuring the antioxidant power of marula oil.

In addition to the oil being stable on the skin and rich in antioxidants, it is high in omega-9 oleic acid and the omega-6 essential fatty acid linoleic acid. It also hydrates, conditions and soothes redness, absorbing quickly. “Although it’s oil, it is nongreasy and highly moisturizing,” explains Serafini. Independent clinical studies have shown that marula oil is proven to protect the skin’s natural moisture barrier, preserving the skin’s hydrating balance.

Its applications include anti-aging skin care; dry skin and eczema; sun damage; acne; or dry, damaged hair. “It appeals to the consumer in the same way that it appeals to me—it’s natural and it has these amazing properties,” says Serafini. “Our organic and conventional marula oils are 100% pure with no solvents or additives used in its manufacture.”

Not only is this oil associated with aesthetic beauty, but is revered as a source of health, healing and nutritional support. “People are savvier about the ingredients that are in products, paying more attention to what they are buying and how it affects them,” she explains. Oils specifically are more popular. From olive oil now to argan oil and beyond, consumers are starting to realize or become more educated on natural oils and how they can be used in skin care.

How the sale of marula oil helps indigenous farmers in Africa is also key to the brand story. Fiafini carefully sources its marula oils to ensure the trees are ethically and sustainably harvested. “Our procurement methods also support the economic growth of the region,” says Serafini. Marula trees are hearty, and nearly all parts of the tree— bark, leaves, flesh, pulp, nuts, the kernels of the fruit itself—are beneficial. Cultivated by indigenous co-op farmers with sales directly benefiting local tribes, the marula oil used in Fiafini Skincare is hand harvested from fruit that has naturally fallen to the ground. The women that harvest the fruit use an ancient method called decortication to break the fruit’s tough outer shell and reveal the kernel, which yields the oil. “Local people directly benefit from the sale of the oil,” Serafini adds.

Social responsibility allows discussion beyond tangible aspects of the product to what the customer feels when using a product that benefits a specific region.

While Fiafini is currently available primarily online and in select spas and salons only in the U.S., Serafini has plans for growth, specifically in Asia. With the brand’s current success, she is confident that the market outside the U.S. will resonate with the idea of marula oil quickly. “Other markets are ahead of the U.S. in terms of incorporating natural ingredients into their lifestyles,” says Serafini. “Natural products with real results resonate with consumers across the globe.”

The marula beauty oil continues to be a strong and compelling story. The simplicity of the Fiafini brand, the price point and brand performance are the drivers that are attractive to retailers as well. “Every month we are having success with new retailers, and we continue to build brand awareness,” she notes.

Recognition and Credibility

Well-performing brands enjoy strong awareness among consumers and opinion leaders. Brands such as Neydharting Moor Skin & Body Care draw attention from sophisticated beauty aficionados, and loyal customers laud it with equal enthusiasm because it delivers on its promise for high-end, efficacious skin care. This type of recognition enables brands to rapidly establish credibility in new markets.

From its beginnings, the Neydharting Moor’s mud has been sought after for its perceived healing powers. Formed at the base of an Austrian valley, one of Europe’s most fertile, the mud came to be prized as a beauty therapy, and European nobility built villas and spas on the moor’s shores. “Other moors exist, but nothing compares to the geophysical phenomenon known as the Neydharting Moor,” says founder Dennis Johnson, PhD, of Botanika Research Labs.

The botanically rich body of water was formed out of nonporous glacial rock and was protected from outside influences, creating an unusual environment filled with hundreds of herbs, botanicals and flowers.

Johnson worked for years with the Neydharting Moor clinic and the family that owns it, developing a relationship before beginning a business partnership for sole exclusive rights when nobody else had been able to. “Their vision is one of healing,” says Johnson. “With our brand, we can spread the effect and benefit of what they do.”

With exclusive rights to a unique habitat with a rare mixture of active plant properties, Neydharting Moor Skin & Body Care has a definite hook for its brand identity. But the success comes from the product’s proven results. “Our best clients are sophisticated—beauty and brains,” says Johnson. “They recognize the efficacy immediately. That’s how our brand grows.”

The Neydharting Moor peat and water contain more than 1,000 naturally sourced botanicals, herbs and nutrients—300 of which have been shown to have anti-aging properties. “The peat is composed of naturally occurring antioxidants, enzymes, herbs, botanicals and humic substances, all blended by nature, with a low molecular weight,” says Johnson. “It’s so pure, it can be consumed internally.”

Formulated in Austria right at the moor, the brand includes face and body lines, with the core of every product being the Neydharting Moor peat and water, forming the “mud.”

Research has shown the effects go beyond the peat itself, helping to heighten the efficacy of the other ingredients within the formulations. Combining naturally occurring botanicals with scientifically advanced peptides that activate collagen synthesis, the products provide relaxation of wrinkles without irritating the skin. They also calm, soothe, balance and clarify the skin. “Each product is naturally composed from a blend of bio-minerals, trace elements, herbs and phytonutrients that can’t be duplicated by technology,” says Johnson. “We put unique, propriety ingredients perfected by nature in a form that people can use.”

As a leading European spa skin care brand, Neydharting Moor Skin & Body Care is no secret. Rooms at the Moorbad Neydharting Healing Clinic in Austria, where the products are used, are booked more than two years in advance. “If you had to sum it up in one word, it’s ‘results’, ” says Johnson. “All we have to do is put the product in the hands of consumers and we’ve already won them over.”

The brand began retailing in Austria and South Africa at top spas, as well as online, and made its U.S. debut summer 2012. In fact, announcements are expected to come soon about partnerships with prestige U.S. luxury retailers. Next, the brand plans to expand further into both North America and South America.

Consistency and Adaptability

Global brands also must respect local needs, wants and tastes. These brands adapt to consumer needs in the marketplace while delivering a consistent experience and identity that’s been developed over time.

“Most ingredients found within the formulations of AmorePacific products translate to all markets, especially since we make a consistent effort to satisfy the demands of the global market,” says Bradley Horowitz, president and CEO of AmorePacific North America. “We are putting more dollars into R&D to deliver what the consumer wants, and the cosmetics industry demands innovation.”

The AmorePacific philosophy is that Asian botanical plants hold the secret to total wellness and natural beauty. Its products combine beauty with science and health, and feature Asian botanicals—including green tea with EGCG, naturally high in vitamin E and touted as one of the most powerful antioxidants in the world.

AmorePacific only uses green tea plants harvested from its own green tea gardens on Jeju Island off the coast of South Korea, creating a sustainable and green environment. The protected gardens are nourished by fresh spring water and mineral-rich volcanic soil, the ideal conditions in which to grow green tea. AmorePacific is one of the only beauty companies to grow and harvest its own green tea, meticulously harvesting the vital parts of the green tea plant at the peak of optimal potency at specific times of the day and year to ensure the highest level of efficiency.

By regionally sourcing its own ingredients, AmorePacific ensures to its consumers that it takes the highest level of care in its cultivation process, presenting only the finest quality ingredients to promise the purity and potency of its ingredients from planting to purchase. For more than half a century, AmorePacific has developed major skin care products and continues to work to meet the highest standards of health and beauty, demonstrated by the company’s establishment of its own research laboratory in 1954—among the first in the South Korean beauty industry.

With more than 140 global patents in green tea and skin-related technology, AmorePacific fuses cutting-edge formulations with age-old traditions of Asian botanicals to create the best results. Using green tea with other ingredients to form patented complexes, AmorePacific’s products nourish the skin on a deeper level, utilizing a blend of nature and science. “Blending the rarest and most potent botanicals with technology is part of our global beauty philosophy that emphasizes a nurturing approach to skin health,” says Horowitz.

AmorePacific also works to have a consistent presence among its consumers, and the brand continues to educate, increase awareness and promote product launches through its messaging. The most beneficial connections are made in-store with highly trained sales people who will provide sampling and hold in-store events that engage customers. “Our business is very healthy and the customer is responding. Now we just have to tell our product story more often to more people,” concludes Horowitz.

Unique Ideas and Innovation

Great brands represent great ideas. These brands express a unique position, effectively and consistently ensuring its products embody its most obvious brand identity.

As a supplier versus a brand, Ganeden Biotech has come to represent innovation in probiotics across multiple industries, having the opportunity to embed its story tangibly and emotionally. Branding ingredients has a future in beauty, giving products the legitimacy and proof consumers want and need in today’s marketplace.

Ganeden probiotic-based technology can be found in products in areas as diverse as functional foods and beverages, feminine health applications and animal products. The probiotics company is now making its foray into beauty as well. “We have been watching the cosmeceutical space for several years, and think the time is right to introduce a scientifically backed, patented and branded ingredient into this important market,” says Michael Bush, vice president of business development.

Although it’s not a probiotic, Bonicel is produced naturally during the fermentation process of GanedenBC30, the company’s patented probiotic strain. Ganeden utilizes proprietary processes to maximize the metabolic activity of the fermenting organism, producing maximum amounts of naturally derived L-lactic acid, bacteriocins, hydrogen peroxide, enzymes and other metabolites.

“Ganeden brings products to market only when they demonstrated to be safe and efficacious, providing consumers with actual benefits—not just marketing hype,” says Bush. The ingredient is included in a dozen projects in the works around the globe, with brands looking at Bonicel as a driving technology in anti-aging products. The first launch is scheduled for March. “Producing a product the first time around that inspires consumer loyalty and a high repurchase rate is vital to growing brand value,” says Bush. “Bonicel has both clinical data to support claims and anecdotal results that consumers see and feel.”

And although other probiotic skin products have entered the market, few, if any, have research data to back their claims, according to Bush. Ganeden maintains an extensive intellectual property portfolio with patent and trademark protection for an array of technologies—about half of them related to topical applications—worldwide. This means products developed in partnership with Ganeden enjoy a unique, protected position in the global marketplace. “We can make use of our [intellectual property] and years of experience in this space to help cosmetic manufacturers produce quality, effective products,” Bush explains.

There is a place for a probiotic-derived product. The probiotics market is expected to be worth $32.6 billion by 2014, according to a study published by MarketsandMarkets. “Manufacturers want to say that Bonicel is a probiotic. But it’s not,” Bush explains. However, brands can leverage the “probiotic-ness” of Bonicel in their marketing story without saying it is one, according to Bush.

Keeping the Connection

Whether brands strive to be a global or regional brand—or simply globally minded—what is clear is the need to follow core principles. Consumers enjoy a combination of global and regional stories: brands that make them feel part of a wider international community and brands that root them in their home culture or allow them to experience an unfamiliar one. As every company and brand is different, focusing on the philosophy that fits your brand is the key to success. A resolute commitment to and innovative execution of a unique brand story that connects emotionally with the consumers—no matter where they live—is what will set your brand apart.

Sara Mason is a freelance writer based in the Chicagoland area. She was previously managing editor of GCI magazine.