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Natalya Rakoch: "The younger generation treats cosmetics as the field for experiments"

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Natalya Rakoch. A cosmetics market expert with a 20-year experience. Founder of branding agency BRAND GURU BUREAU. Author of local cosmetic brands.

The TV BRICS correspondent Olga Bubnova talked to Natalya Rakoch.

Over the last thirty years, the life in our country has radically changed, as well as the way women treat themselves, their looks, and beauty. How has the cosmetics market been changing over the last three decades?

It has advanced from the market accepting everything and anything, depending on the price, to a quite self-structured, a very specifically arranged market. It is a good platform to make business in Russia, in cosmetics, and not only for multi-national manufacturers, but also for a large number of already existing local brands.

In one of your interviews you said that the problem is that there is no worthy raw material base for production of domestic cosmetics. And why do we import ingredients, what do we lack? Do we lack knowledge, or do we lack natural resources, what does Russia lack to produce its own cosmetics?

We should not try to build the same modern raw material base, which exists around the world. I mean the basic ingredients. It is really easier to buy them, it is cheaper and more correct in terms of quality. But, for example, I visited the Skolkovo Technopark recently, and noticed that there is a number of Russian companies that develop ingredients and manufacture both cosmetics and some very-very innovatiove products. They are situated right in Russia, in Perm, in the Urals, in the Moscow Region, these plants make new ingredients for the cosmetics industry.

So, we literally need to wait for several years, and we will feel a notable boom of the Russian cosmetics?

You know, there is, of course, one problem. People do not really believe that it is possible to manufacture high-quality, cool cosmetics in Russia. It is connected not so much with the ingredient base, but mainly with the culture of production. We can begin it excellently, but then the quality spoils somehow, or some other thing happens.

But while this can be helped, we still face this mistrust: well, our cosmetics cannot be expensive, but all good products have to cost more than a hundred rubles, we have got used to it.

All in all, this problem exists, and here, of course, we, marketing specialists, have numerous different opportunities, and we surely will use them in the nearest future.

Let me get things straight: do they mistrust Russia abroad, or do we mistrust it ourselves?

Inland, in Russia, in the Russian market. In connection with one new project, we conducted research, asked focus groups, and the answer to the first question: "What do you think of cosmetics made in Russia?" – was "Well, it should be cheap and very natural."

Natural, yes. This is the first word associated with the Russian cosmetics.

Yes. And further, when we show some of our ideas and some ingredient proposals, people say: "Oh, really, my goodness, that means that Russia, too, can produce cool products."

We have this kind of mistrust, it should be overcome. But we have a lot of examples when we overcame this mistrust and, eventually, reached the hearts of our target audience.

I personally have had several cases like that in my life, so we will cope with it. And I believe that very soon, local brands will take the worthy place on shelves, in cosmetics bags, and most importantly, in the heads of our consumers.

Are there any Russian brands that are already successfully entering, or are ready to enter the international markets?

Natura Siberica has been successfully selling abroad for three or four years. SPLAT toothpastes are a very good case, they have successfully got to European and Chinese markets. They are still "performing" there, in those markets, very well. Well, for example, a brand that I have created, "Vivienne Sabo". We start-upped with an American project four years ago, and this year, we were recognized, the American Glamour has written about us, that it is the best-seller of Amazon and the best mascara of all that you can imagine.

You should be congratulated on it.

Thanks, I am very excited at this recognition, it is really cool that America also liked this product.

A little more about foreign cosmetics, not only decorative, but also skin care. For the last few years, Asia has been on trend, what is it connected with? For Asian girls, they choose other colors, other textures, everything is different there, so why are Asian cosmetics so popular with us?

The ingredients of Korean cosmetics are cool. Then, they have invented this kind of ritual. After all, cosmetics is a ritual: four layers for washing, and then six more – for skin care. It is, on the one hand, a cool ritual, on the other hand, if we used to apply face wash only from one jar, now we have four! And secondly, we used to apply cream, and now instead of it we have six more jars, and these are good sales, actually. A wonderful ritual!

But we should credit the government with the expansion of the Korean cosmetics, this is the correct policy on protection of domestic market under all conditions for the development of business and sales, and promotion of K-beauty around the world.

And who can steal leadership from Korea today, for example, in the Russian market? Well, if not steal, at least challenge it?

The cosmetics industry, it adores novelties, we rotate them very actively all the time. Loyalty in the cosmetics industry is rather scarce, we are looking for something brand new all the time, and, of course, Koreans managed to capture a big number of loyal consumers.

But very soon, many of them will want something brand new – and here, of course, С-beauty – the Chinese cosmetics – enters the arena. It is a new phenomenon, which fits the system of Internet sales in its concept, like a key fits the lock. Because in China, cosmetics sell very well through the Internet, and these are C-beauty products, effective and inexpensive. It is their key feature: they develop the Internet channel.

Talking about the popular trends, A-beauty, that is Australian cosmetics, has a very interesting story. I went to Bali in winter and understood that they are having a boom of everything Australian. Clothes, bathing suits, footwear and cosmetics: a lot of different interesting brands. They are so relaxed, natural, cheerful, simple, unlike Korean ones. I think that it has a good future.

Of course, local brands need a lot of luck today, because the target audience, the consumers are really searching, waiting, wanting and understanding that, if our people have learned to make tasty cheese, they can probably also make tasty cream. Not probably, but they surely can.

A little more about the Chinese cosmetics. What interesting products can Celestial Empire offer? Does it have some specialties, or the main feature of China is the mere fact of sales on the Internet?

As for production, Chinese producers have jump-started. About ten years ago, we came to factories and saw that they were, frankly speaking, not really well equipped. Meanwhile, the quality of the equipment, and ingredients, and professionals have become much better. Chinese cosmetics production is a really very good, high-quality, inexpensive production.

And it is very important that the Chinese use this feature of Internet sales, when bloggers announce the special properties of products. They show, tell, apply on themselves; people understand how it works, they already understand how the product is made, it is easier to buy it. As long as it is easy to buy in China on the Internet, the sales are very big.

Now we are engaged in introduction of one Chinese brand to the Russian market. And they show such figures and statistics that they make my head, frankly speaking, spin round. For example, lipsticks are sold in one store there, it is not Alibaba, it is just one online store, but it somehow is very good. Hundreds of thousands of lipsticks are sold every month. The figures are unreal.

A very beautiful Chinese design, with the fragments of the summer imperial palace in Beijing, a very beautiful brand, from a very good factory, therefore, it will hit our market soon.

I am looking forward to it, because I saw one Chinese blogger show it, and wanted to buy it very much. Just a little more about China. I heard that marketing specialists who introduce Chinese cosmetics brands into market, they sell men's cosmetics through women. Because it is natural for the Chinese that women buy skin care cosmetics for their men. And how are things going with our men? Do they use skin care cosmetics, according to the statistics?

I think that Asian men are real pioneers of cosmetics. Because they have very specific thick hair, and this beautiful hairdressing with special hair styling products which work on thick hair, this has been a product number one for many years, more than ten, in the Asian market.

Koreans and Chinese are the pioneers of "penetrating" into all these women's departments and purchases of all cosmetics. Including very good sales of men’s decorative cosmetics in China and Korea.

And we have a very "old school" audience, or really, they buy it with the help of their girlfriends and wives. But I think that young guys are already choosing skincare products without our help, and, as for the choice of hair and much more shaving products, we understand nothing in them.

I saw your phrase: "In five years, all our men will have not a pack of cigarettes, but a lip balm in their pockets." How realistic is this forecast for the capital and for regions?

I believe it is realistic. It seems to me, it has come true in the capital. They buy cosmetics, use it and understand that, if you, for example, edited a video all night long…

You don’t look so good in the morning!

Or you did something else, or looked for, made a research on the Internet… I believe that the general approach to personal care today, it is not about applying some mask and hiding behind it, cosmetics do not bear this function anymore.

And the younger generation treats cosmetics as the field for experiments. Among the next fall’s trends, there are pink eyeshadows, blue wings, bright scarlet lipstick, I mean, some very bright details which will emphasize personality and make your image unusual.

You have told about the main trends of the fall makeup. And in the end: what skin care products should be bought for autumn?

You should buy some jar which smells good and is smooth to the touch, which gives you pleasure in the morning, when you do not want to go anywhere, but you take it, and it contains a good mood in its molecules, and you apply this mood and think, "Ok then, the day is successful, I have done everything all right, and I feel wonderful!"

I’m sure that this fall, everyone needs to buy cosmetics like that!

Special thanks to the SOK co-working for giving their Smart offices for shooting!