First, let me ask you, why the name Essentiq, and where does it come from. It does not sound very Slovenian.
T: That is true. When we were considering names in 2010, we had a vision to target predominantly foreign markets. And through global eyes, the name Essentiq holds a meaning.
The first part of the name comes from the name ESSENCE, i.e elementary, most important characteristics, which gives individual identity, and the second part comes from AUTHETIQUE, i.e. a French word for genuine, true. Slovenia is a really small market, and if you want to produce and sell high-quality natural-ecological cosmetics, the market is too small to be cost efficient.
Despite being a Slovenian producer and a Slovenian brand, you are relatively unknown in Slovenia.
T: It was much easier to start abroad, especially in Asia. The Asian market liked the graphic image of our original – classic – line, so we quickly found distributors in Singapore, Malaysia, Japan, Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan. As a European brand we were exotic in their eyes, and in Asia, European natural-ecological cosmetics are synonymous with high quality. In 2016 in Singapore, our cleansing gel received two of the most prestigious awards, it was chosen as best natural-ecological product by users and the as best ‘face saver’ product, chosen by a panel of experts. That began opening doors in other markets as well.
Mid-2017 the distribution of all our products for Slovenia was taken over by our longstanding expert co-worker, who cooperated with us on developing the professional line for beauty salons. As driven as she is, and as ‘in love’ with our products, I am confident she will be successful.
Nevertheless, building a trademark is a long-term process, because it takes years for the results to be visible. With the flood of cosmetic products on the markets, and commercials bombarding us from all sides, it is hard work to gain recognition. So I have the deepest respect for everyone who takes part in the sales process. Impatience is not a quality a sales representative can afford.
How many countries do you have the distributors in?
T: In addition to the above mentioned six countries, we are also present in the United Arab Emirates, Romania, Spain, Italy, Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Slovenia, of course. We have recently begun negotiations with distributors from China, Germany and the USA.
How do you appeal to the users who buy your products? What is special about your products?
T: This is one of the most difficult questions. How are you different from all the others? I know that it is quite inappropriate from the marketing point of view, but we are currently not trying to figure out what story we are going to sell the people, we are rather investing our time and effort into following the development trends in biotechnology, developing packaging etc. Our mission is to create high-quality natural-ecological products. What does that mean? It means that the cleansing products (such as shower gels and other soaps, shampoos) DO NOT use sulphates, even though the standards for ecological cosmetics do not prohibit them. We do not use them, because sulphates destroy the skin’s acid mantle, i.e. our own natural protection against sun rays, bacteria, microorganisms etc. Consequentially, the top layer of the skin can be dried out, which causes itchiness in some people. Ever since the members of our family no longer use products with sulphates, we hardly ever use sunscreen. My son and I no longer suffer from acute dermatitis, which we both had. It may just be a coincidence, I do not know. Nevertheless, I firmly believe that the reason for the improvement is the fact that we have stopped using sulphates.
Also, in this year’s anonymous poll on Romanian market, conducted by the Romanian centre for mothers and mothers-to-be, our children’s line products have been selected as the highest quality products, and the centre became our official promoter. Such commendations fuel our dedication and we keep to our high standards of quality. Even if those standards make our products a bit more expensive in the end. I believe that people have come to realise, that the price is a reflection of quality, especially, if you are not one of the brands with a prominent name. High-quality ingredients are not cheap. And if you want those ingredients to have the desired effect, you have to include them in your product in the amount the raw-materials producers stated in their technical documentation, based on the tests and analysis results the producers made. And all of that comes at a price.
You have recently launched two completely new lines – MAGIC premium line and PROLINE, a professional line for beauty salons. Can you tell us more?
T: We began developing our premium line primarily to enter the Arab markets. The decision to base MAGIC on plant stem cells, special peptides and enzymes, which stimulate the skin stem cells to renew and protect themselves from damage, was more than excellent. We are talking about a new concept of slowing down the ageing process by stimulating the skin’s own regenerating properties in a natural way. All our creams have been packed in special airless pots, which no other producer had – not on the Beautyworld Middle East fair in Dubai and not on Cosmoprof Asia in Hong Kong. And we successfully drew the attention to us. We are innovative. Our products are top-of-the-line – from graphic design, to the packaging, to the ingredients.
And our professional line is different as well. It is based on an innovative concept, where we can offer over 100 personalised types of treatment, by using 39 products which can be mixed together. Thus the cosmetologist can meet the client’s specific needs and wishes. PROLINE is vegan, allergen free, a pleasure to work with, and it leaves a pleasant feeling on the skin. That is the most important. Satisfied clients. This is how you make it in the long run, with quality and by believing in it. That is what makes the clients return for your services.
Where can we find your products?
T: In general, we leave the decision about where the individual products or lines will be sold to the distributors, because there are different situations in different countries. In some countries, ecological products are sold in special natural-ecological sections within large shopping, chemist or pharmacy chains. In other places, smaller natural-ecological shops are the trend. In Slovenia our distributor is faced with a specific problem, because salons expect that our cosmetics brand will be sold in their salon exclusively. We have not come across such demand for exclusivity in other countries. There our classic line is available everywhere, MAGIC in shops with high-end products and in beauty salons, and PROLINE only in beauty salons. We developed the different lines with this in mind, so that people can see products in different locations and remember them. You know, if you see something several times, at one point the curiosity will get the better of you and you will try it. I believe that the presence of a brand in different locations gives the brand higher credibility in the consumers’ eyes. Of course, the selected channels have to be suitable. We cannot sell natural-ecological cosmetics at petrol stations or in budget shops.
Interview with Ms. Tanja Božinac, CEO of Essentiq for Dermanova magazine No. 58, 2018.