Almost a century ago, one phenomenal doctor discovered the secret of healthy and exceptional skin. The doctor did not create a formula or invent a chemical equation. Instead, he resorted to nature.
Vichy is a French city that harbours the world’s richest water only available at the city’s volcano. Each water drop includes 15 different minerals that fortify and enrich the skin.
For years, Vichy dominated international markets as the world’s most loved dermocosmetic brand; however, the Egyptian market was left yarning for its share. Eventually, L’Oreal Egypt announced a few days ago at the historical Ritz Carlton Hotel that it is finally time for locals to enjoy their advanced technology.
Daily News Egypt met with Managing Director of L’Oreal in Egypt Benoit Julia, General Manager of Active Cosmetics at L’Oreal Egypt Ahmed Wagih, and Managing Director of L’Oreal Active Cosmetics in Africa and the Middle East Philippe Mottard to learn more about the brand, as well as the indications of their milestone.
What makes Vichy different from all other L’Oreal brands?
Wagih: To me, Vichy is a brand that caters for women during all stages of their lives. The most important thing that truly distinguishes the brand is the fact that it is based on Vichy thermal water, which is known to be fortifying, regenerating, and rebalancing. The water is more energetic and healthier than normal water, which helps the skin be healthier.
We also have ranges that can satisfy women during different stages of their lives; anti-wrinkles cream, sun protection, anti-pigmentation, and others.
Why did you choose this particular time to enter the Egyptian market?
Julia: L’Oreal’s subsidiary in Egypt is quite young since it was only established in 2009. The active cosmetics department, which includes Vichy, La Roche-Posay, and a few others started in 2013. So we decided to start the division with La Roche-Posay because it is the one that is prescribed by dermatologists to give us the opportunity to network with the doctors.
Only two years later, we are here to introduce Vichy, the perfect timing to gain from our experience and current network to launch Vichy. Our timing is not really linked to the events taking place locally it is about the way we have been building brands since the inception of this subsidiary.
Mottard: Egypt is a strong dermocosmetic market; there are 5,000 active dermatologists in Egypt. Therefore, all specialised brands from around the world strive to present their products here.
What are you investing to promote and market Vichy?
Wagih: Our business model depends on pharmacists and dermatologists since we believe that medical prescriptions supported by the advice of pharmacists and our representatives inside the pharmacies are the best way to deliver information about our brand to patients and consumers.
How do you work on attracting new consumers?
Wagih: We invested in different areas. For example, we are currently focusing on digital platforms since we believe it is the best way to communicate with consumers and get closer to them. We plan to be a leader in this area because we know that the market is currently developing in this direction and we are also aware that it is our responsibility to lead in this part.
Vichy is highly successful worldwide; in your opinion, what is the reason behind this success?
Mottard: It is historical, it was the first dermocosmetic brand to launch worldwide. It also embraces L’Oreal’s magic trio – efficiency, safety, and innovation – which corresponds to what the consumer wants. It also includes diverse categories that cater for all needs related to healthy skin. To sum it up, Vichy represents good value for money.
Wagih: Consumers are very health conscious and are moving towards areas they can trust and places where they can find proper advice, which is why they refer to dermatologists and pharmacists. Vichy today stands with strong and trustable base of information that consumers can make use of and understand.
How vast is L’Oreal’s presence in Egypt in terms of factories, brands, and work force?
Julia: We established the subsidiary in 2009 so our Egyptian presence is still quite young. In the beginning of 2015, we inaugurated our first factory, which was in the making since 2013, and is a big investment. In term of brands, we currently have 15 international brands after the launch of Vichy.
As for the work force, we have just over 100 employees in L’Oreal Egypt plus 200 employees in the factory.
What are L’Oreal’s future plans in Egypt?
Julia: Today we have 15 brands from L’Oreal in Egypt and our total number of brands is 32. Without revealing any key strategic information, all brands that are relevant to Egypt will come here at the right time.