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29 January 2020

Thinking out of the box

If in 2005, marketers were asked if it was worth launching a brand with such a concept as R.O.C.S., they would have answered: crazy idea, people won’t understand. High-tech formulas, expensive production – why all this when there are proven business schemes? Svetlana Matelo, Head of DRC group of companies, speaks of how to achieve success by breaking patterns.

Today, even very skeptical specialists wonder at the success of DRC group of companies 60 countries of the world, 10% of the toothpaste market in Russia, 1st place in pharmacy sales and absolute leadership in children's toothpastes * — numbers that are more eloquent than words. Three scientific laboratories, two modern production facilities, one of which was launched in the shortest time possible in 2019.

“We first thought of developing innovative oral care products a long time ago,” recalls Svetlana Matelo. “Once I talked with a major manufacturer of toothpastes.” “Your formulas are obsolete,” I said. “And we have new modern formulations, let's create a conceptually new effective product! I expected anything — criticism, discussions. However, I heard in reply: “That’s fine. But we are a huge business machine. And it’s impossible to introduce such ideas in our system, all the more quickly.” At that moment, I realized that innovations are not born in large companies, they are made by enthusiasts. It’s been years, and now this is a great project that we are all proud of. Its implementation was made possible by Unident."

BREAKING STEREOTYPES

The concept of toothpastes that the Company’s science lab offered to the market under the R.O.C.S. brand was unusual. The developers almost completely abandoned fluoride (and this is in the era when ads about how it strengthens enamel were heard from all screens!) Our arguments were of scientific origin: excess fluoride can be harmful — it leads to disorder of bone and teeth mineralization, weakens the immune system, disrupts the endocrine system and accelerates aging.

At the same time, the daily need for fluoride is insignificant: one easily gets it from water and food: apples, fish, bread. Moreover, bioavailable calcium in combination with phosphate and magnesium strengthens enamel much better. This complex formed the basis of the professional “hit” of the brand — the Medical Minerals R.O.C.S. unique remineralizing gel.  (the formula is protected by patents and patent applications all around the world). It also became part of Svetlana Matelo's dissertation. The formula worked even where fluorides were powerless — in the treatment of decompensated forms of caries and in the treatment of early childhood caries, as well as for the aesthetic treatment of dental fluorosis (the result of an overdose of fluoride in drinking water and foods). Toothpastes produced on the basis of this formula effectively protect against caries, which was confirmed in the two-year prevention program organized by a center collaborating with the World Health Organization.

DRC plant in Stupino near Moscow is one of the most modern production facilities in the industry.

Fluoride was not the only ingredient that the brand almost completely abandoned, offering the market a clinically proven alternative. R.O.C.S. products do not contain antiseptics like the popular chlorhexedine and similar ingredients, so they do not suppress the natural oral microbial flora. Aggressive antiseptics were replaced with bromelain (from pineapple stalks) and xylitol (from corn and sunflower). Microbiologists who studied the composition of toothpastes, came to the conclusion that R.O.C.S. additionally have the properties of prebiotics and normalize the composition of the oral microbial flora. The prebiotic properties of the formula allow to reduce the proportion of pathogenic microorganisms in just two weeks of use and reduce the risk of inflammation. This part of the formula is also protected by world patents. What else? R.O.C.S. products do not contain aggressive abrasives, but at the same time brighten the enamel and make it shiny. This is an unexpected side effect… of still the same Medical Minerals remineralizing gel. Indeed, it is no coincidence that R.O.C.S. stands for remineralizing oral care systems (Remineralizing Oral Care Systems).

R.O.C.S. is not afraid to break stereotypes,” Svetlana Matelo says. “We often do illogical things in terms of marketing, and then they become hits. For example, we were the first to introduce a clear age differentiation of toothpastes for children, which is justified by the age groups’ physiology. After a while, almost all manufacturers began to copy this concept, including major global players. We do set trends! We have products that we produce because consumers need them, but they do not provide sales volume. Toothpastes without mint are unpopular on the scale of markets, but there are people who have mint intolerance, and without our products it is difficult for them to brush their teeth, especially with pleasure.

Today the assets of DRC include three research laboratories and two modern production facilities.

POPULARITY OF UNPOPULAR DECISIONS

At first glance, it seems that such sophisticated products are doomed to be niche. Nevertheless, unusual toothpastes, brushes and mouth rinses at premium prices (150−450 rubles and above) find a lot of fans. When well-known leading manufacturers are planning new premium products, marketers conduct numerous studies in focus groups and pay special attention to expensive attractive packaging. The price of R.O.C.S. products is dictated by the product’s expensive formula and technologies. The production cost of DRC group’s products is sometimes higher than the final shelf price of popular competitive brands. However, the effectiveness of the formulas is so obvious that consumers who just tried R.O.C.S. products once, feel the difference and understand what they pay for.

In the Russian market of toothpastes, the brand's share is 10% in value terms, but in the pharmacy segment, according to DSM Group, R.O.C.S. is the absolute leader in toothpastes and brushes (29.7% in value terms). R.O.C.S. children's toothpastes are leading in all the segments.

Today, the Company’s share in the Russian market of toothpastes is approximately 10% in value terms, and in the pharmacy segment, the R.O.C.S. brand is the absolute leader in toothpastes and toothbrushes (market share 29.7% in value terms). This does not look so surprising, if you take into account the solid scientific weight of the brand: the WDS laboratory owns 50 patents for formulas, its development has become the basis for dozens of scientific studies, the results of which are published in medical journals, are discussed at world scientific sites, including conferences and congresses of the World Dental Federation (FDI).

“R.O.C.S. is not a mass product for everyone, based on it’s price category, but it has become a mass one in our country and in a number of other countries of the world, because of its effectiveness and biosecurity,” Svetlana Matelo says. We are very lucky that there are a lot of educated people in Russia and there are many doctors among them who are interested in such high-tech progressive ideas as those of R.O.C.S.

And I will say such an interesting idea: Russian consumers are also lucky that R.O.C.S. was created in Russia. Because they have the opportunity to use our innovative products. After all, no one else in the world offers anything like this, especially in such an assortment.

WDS Laboratory Owns 50 Formula Patents

THE FORM AND THE CONTENT

Russians’ interest in innovations has allowed to launch another non-standard brand on the market — Femegyl. These professional cosmetics is in many ways a logical continuation of the company's philosophy and R. O. C. S., but only in dermatology and cosmetology. The brand has become a joint project in collaboration with the Institute of Plastic Surgery and Cosmetology (IPSC). The brand is not yet as well-known as R.O.C.S., but according to consumers and professionals, it is among the best in the market. Femegyl products are bioavailable and bioidentical; they are produced in small batches at low temperatures with biologically active components preservation. Ingredients are purchased all over the world — there are several hundred of them in Femegyl library.

However, the Company acts “not like everyone else” again: wherever it can be done without additional packaging, it is done without it. Others would make a beautiful jar, pack it in a box, and put some rustling wrapper in this box … But Femegyl has simple and functional tubes. Because the main thing is their content. The arguments are: cosmetics will be more accessible to those who need it; we do not pollute the environment, in addition, cosmetics in jars require a high content of preservatives.

“When people buy a beautiful package, they get an illusion and a portion of hormones of joy, not knowing that such a package eats up the lion's share of the cost price,” Svetlana Matelo explains. This joy lives for a few minutes, and the discarded package will pollute the environment for years. I believe that in 10−20 years, a restriction on the production of excess packaging will be introduced at the international level. This is a future that humanity will come to. Thoughtless spending of resources today is the problem for future generations.”

Russians' interest in innovation has allowed to launch another non-standard brand on the market — Femegyl.

There is another environmental threat that is not given much thought. Humanity is draining a huge amount of questionable chemicals into the environment. For example, when we brush our teeth and rinse our mouths — the wastewater goes into the gutters. How will this affect the environment? There are billions of people, and we all brush our teeth and take care of ourselves. Or take the foam.

A large amount of foam is also harmful, it breaks the structures of mucosa, skin, and hair.  Moreover, it is harmful to nature. The developers of R.O.C.S. and Femegyl care about safety for the environment at the stage of working with the formula.

CLEAN SOLUTIONS

The new plant of DRC group of companies in Stupino, launched in 2014, immediately became an example of technological and environmentally friendly production. Energy saving systems, sustainable waste management, the water leaving the plant is cleaner than it was taken from reservoirs… The new factory that R.O.C.S. established in 2019 is also a high level of technology and one of the most progressive companies in the industry not only in Russia, but also in the Eurasian continent.

How did it happen that a brand that did everything not according to the rules of marketing, but according to the rules of science, became one of the leaders in such a competitive market as personal care products? Svetlana Matelo has her own opinion on this matter:

“There is such a thing — window of opportunities. Most consider it a chance to benefit here and now. But what if you put it in perspective? Not afraid to take risks? Our philosophy both in life and in business is as follows: to achieve something worthwhile, the goals must be high, and perhaps at the start, scientific and philanthropic, no matter how pathetic it may sound.”

Text by: Mariana Kapsuletskaya
Photo by: DRC Archive


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