France-based, science-driven derma company, NAOS, is present in the Indian market since November 2014, has grown considerably since. The company’s brands are growing across the world and recently, it organised the first Ecobiology Summit in Croatia. Sanjay Sahu, MD, NAOS Skin Care, in a detailed conversation, shares more details about the company’s details and their plans for the Indian market
Tell us about NAOS.
Operating in more than 100 countries, NAOS is among the top 55 global beauty companies and one of the only ones to have preserved its independence, but it is more than a beauty company. The company is a purpose-driven with a mission, inspired by a humanist utopia. Around, 40 years ago, Jean-Noël Thorel, a pharmacist-biologist, overthrew the established understanding of the beauty industry by giving birth to a disruptive but respectful approach: ecobiology, or the art of preserving the skin ecosystem by reinforcing its natural mechanisms. Rather than over-treating the skin, it must learn how to function properly. From this idea, the brands Bioderma, Institut Esthederm and Etat Pur were born, making NAOS a major international figure in skincare.
Since 1988, we are a 100 per cent French manufacturing company that guarantees the mastery of know-how and quality. All our products are manufactured in Aix-en-provence and our laboratories meet strict quality standards derived from the pharma industry.
Today, still as fiercely independent as ever, NAOS has the ambition to become globally known for the universal value and the originality of its approach. NAOS is a cohesive system of three skin-inspired brands.
How many of its research based products are available in the Indian market?
For us (NAOS), India is on high priority. We started our operations through partnership with Palson in 2010 and later in November 2014, we begun with our own operations. Currently, we have seven product ranges in India consisting of 29 SKUs growing at significant double digits.
We want to be the No 1. dermocosmetic brand in India through strong focus on dermatologists.
Give us a brief understanding on the company’s three brands Bioderma, Institut Esthederm and Etat Pur. How are these brands perceived across the globe?
Bioderma: The brand’s approach relies first and foremost on the knowledge of the skin and its biological mechanisms to formulate products directly inspired by the skin and treat skin pathologies or imbalances. The brand is available in more than 100 countries and is part of the top five skincare brands in the dermocosmetics/ pharma distribution channel in the world. It is heavily prescribed by dermatologists across the globe. Bioderma invented the Micellar Water technology, leading to the creation of a new beauty care category. Sensibio H20 has therefore been the first micellar water and still #1 in the market today.
Institut Esthederm: Inspired by professional aesthetics and the art of beauticians, Esthederm has a different approach of beauty and ageing: a positive vision of life based on the belief that the skin can stay young for longer if you optimise its natural resources. Its mission is to help women to age beautifully, radiantly, whatever the environment or lifestyle thanks to its formulation at the cellular level. For instance, the Cellular Water, inspired from the water of the skin use in all products, allow 100 per cent active formulas to reeducate skin and reawaken cell youthfulness. The brand is available in more than 40 countries.
Etat Pur: To bring the skin only what it needs. Nothing more. Nothing less. The most advanced offer in terms of ecobiology as NAOS split the products of Etat Pur into two categories : 1/100 per cent Biomimetic daily care to nourish the healthy skin on a daily basis 2/ Pure actives with highly purified molecules at an effective dose to address a specific skin problem / imbalance and those actives are to be used only in case the skin needs it and only where it needs it (to avoid unnecessary treatment). The brand has only been present in France so far as we were refining both its offer and commercial model. The international roll out begins now in 2018.
What are your marketing strategies to create brand awareness and expand footprint in the Indian market?
We are a niche brands for the discerning patients who have sensitive skin and require innovative well-formulated products. We intend to reach to these class of patients through top-end dermatologists as well as targeted digital activities. For some of our customer facing brands like Sensibio we will be targeting the make-up artist as well as direct end-users through variety of medias.
Could you explain more about ecobiology?
Ecobiology is based on the principle that the skin is an ever-evolving ecosystem that interacts with its environment and whose natural resources and mechanisms must be preserved. Rather than over-treating the skin, it must learn how to function properly and to reactivate its natural mechanism. The success of the three NAOS brands – Bioderma, Institut Esthederm and Etat Pur – is rooted in this shared essence.
In a way we believe traditional skincare is kind of obsolete (focus on skin only, over-treat symptoms and dismiss causes, over-promise and under-deliver, product classification based on skin type and age, guilt-creating communication). Therefore, we humbly try to define a new route with our positive approach of ecobiology which resonates with a positive approach to life: act with age, not against; sun light is necessary to skin health; environment is part of skin health evolution whether you want it or not. Aggressions will remain but it is possible to accompany the skin every day and help it to better defend itself, adapt and preserve its natural biology.
How are you designing products based on different geographies?
Manufacturing is done in France and our internal lab is also based in France. However, NAOS has a global network of renowned academics with whom original solutions can freely be explored in all regions of the world, the MedILS in Croatia being one example of such partnership. Besides, our decentralised governance model allows each of our markets to provide feedback to R&D and we also have a strong network of dermatologists across the globe to be sure we understand local skin specificities and skincare needs.
Do you have plans to conduct research work in India? Will the research work be done in partnership with pharma companies/ research institutes?
We are formalising clinical studies on impact of various environmental factors adversely impacting skin and role of our brands in managing myriad skin disorders.
This will be collaborative studies with top skin centres and key opinion leaders (KOLs) from India.
Overall, how much investment does NAOS plan to invest in India to grow organically or inorganically?
We do not have plan to grow inorganically at this stage, neither in India nor elsewhere in the world as we want our brands to be cohesive and follow the same philosophy of ecobiology. Buying out brands from other companies is not that easy given those constraints in terms of ecobiological formulation. Having said that, we are expanding in India through more field force, higher retail as well as digital availability of our brands and close engagement with customers as well as top dermatologists.
Recently, NAOS organised the first Ecobiology Summit in Croatia. Give us a summary of the summit.
We believe it is new as a movement and a different that we wanted to launch with the Summit. The aim is not to arrogantly pretend we invented from the get go a new Science with capital. I believe the following quote from Pr. Miroslav Radman is a great summary of what we humbly try to do: “I doubt that it can become a science now when it is about to be born, but I would not be surprised that one day it becomes a scientific discipline – a holistic way of thinking truth and creating values and innovations that are conceived to serve human well-being and humanistic values. The summit was attended by KOLs and 50 of those dermatologists who are key opinion leaders were present at the Summit from 35 different countries. For instance, for India we had the honour to have with us Dr Raj Kubba as well as Dr Sachin Dhawan.