Increased efficiency of organic beauty products, with new on the spot DNA test

CPP-LUXURY.COM has recently interviewed, exclusively, Margo Marrone, Founder of The Organic Pharmacy, a leader in innovation and research. Privately owned, The Organic Pharmacy features a wide range of organic based beauty products (skin, hair, body) as well as organic make up and organic fragrances. The Organic Pharmacy flagship locations in London and Los Angeles also feature organic homeopathic remedies.

How has your company performed  in the first 9 months of 2012, compared to the same period in 2011?

We have had excellent performance in our first nine months – +50% 0n last year.

Which are the latest retail  expansion initiatives of your brand? Do you have plans to expand internationally your pharmacy / SPA concept which you currently operate in London?

We have had some very exciting developments this year with The Organic Pharmacy flag ship stores  due to open in Dubai in early 2013 as well as Seoul, Istanbul and Rhiad.

Which have been your key product launches in 2012? Please tell us more about your product development strategy.

In 2012 we focused on expanding key items in our skin care such as our new Enzyme Peel Mask always with the same message that Organic can also be very high tech and deliver outstanding results. Our product development very much depends on what our clients need and combine research and innovations with customer requests. I am constantly searching for actives and ingredients that give exceptional performance and combine this with listening carefully to our clients needs.

What is your approach in SPA development? Which are the new locations you added in  2012? Which is your most popular SPA treatment?

SPA development remains a core part of our expansion.  In 2012 we added Four Seasons Hong Kong and the Mont Cervin in Zermatt. The most popular treatments are the Rose Crystal Lymphatic Facial which is more a whole body treatment than a facial and The Green Coffee Resculpting treatment which immediately slims and tones the body.

What is your strategic approach in maintaining  consistency in terms of rarity and exclusivity?

With abrand such as ours it is important to be able to communicate the essence of our brand to the customer. Selective distribution where a trained customer service person is avaible on hand is vital so for us a large commitment to training is essential along with working with partners who are as committed as we are  to delivering and excellent customer service. Our startegy has always been to be carful and expand slowly with the right partners.

How important is awareness and education as part of  your marketing communications activities? How do online sales perform in countries where you have neither a SPA nor a retail presence?

Education has always been one of our main concerns from the start. Through advice, our brochure , web site, qualified staff, extensive investment in trianing we really make the comitment to educating and sharing information about health. On line sales are always strong in countries where we have a strong presence with UK and US being the strongest.

Inconsistent certification of organic products from country to country can sometimes confuse the consumer. Which are the key descriptive elements consumers should watch out for when reading labeling on a beauty product?

I always considered myslef lucky that I have a degree in pharmacy to be able to understand the intricacies of formulation and the ingredients used in cosmetics.  One of my concerns was that the average person would not understand everything listed on packaging. There is no easy solution. We have a list of ingredients on our website and there are other excellent sources of information such as the charity no more breast cancer or the alliance of cancer prevention which talk about all the chemicals in our environment we should avoid. Its important to go equipped with the list of main ingredients and just keep checking- that’s what I did at first until I set up The Organic Pharmacy and did all the checking for people.

Which are your present distribution channels? Do you consider airport sales or department store sales?

Apart from our own stores in the UK and US we have just launched in  four Barneys stores in the US,  Selfridges in London and the new and exciting Harvery Nichols Beauty Bazzar in Liverpool.  We are already in Harvey Nichols in Hong Kong so department stores form an important part of our distribution. Airport sales also are important and we are already planning for this for 2013.

Earlier this month, you launched an instant DNA test available in your stores to  identify the genetic predisposition to skin ageing. How did you come up with this innovative  solution? Depending on the results of the test, do you envisage creating bespoke skin products?

The test itself was created by the genetics and electronics team at Imperial College in London and is very clever. As the first on the spot DNA treatment , it lets an individual know whether they are a high or low metaboliser of collagen and further looks at ingredients in our products that the individual can metabolise the best to boost collagen production. It really did highlight the fact that our products are so high in actives (up to 16 ingredients in one product) that its is as close to customisation you can get in a product line. Customisation is certainly something I would be keen to look at for the near future for this test. Its very exciting.

 Why do you think fragrances based on organic ingredients are slower in development, in comparison with skin care?   

Having created 5 fragrances that are 85% organic, I know how difficult it is. The main reason is that the perfume houses have a table of 3000 ingredients to work with whilst the natural/organic 300 so it makes it very diifucult to create a sophisticated and perfectly balanced fragrance. Of course price also plays a huge role with many of these extracts costing up to £10,000 /kg whilst a synthetic is not even £50/kg. Commercially synthetic fragrances are more profitable.  Still we have 5 fragrances so its not impossible if you have the persistence and the energy to make it happen.

Margo Marrone, Founder CEO, The Organic Pharmacy