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Ingredients With Global Flair

By: Sara Mason
Posted: February 4, 2013, from the March 2013 issue of GCI Magazine.

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.

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