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Key to export success for cosmetics is good distribution partners

By Andrew MCDOUGALL contact

- Last updated on GMT

Bulldog founder Simon Duffy says export has been a wonderful part of the men's skin care journey
Bulldog founder Simon Duffy says export has been a wonderful part of the men's skin care journey

Related tags: Market

For many brands, large or small, launching internationally can be a daunting challenge. We spoke with Bulldog Skincare founder Simon Duffy, about how international expansion has presents great opportunities, how to deal with regulatory challenges, and how partnerships have been a great help.

Men’s natural brand Bulldog is set to launch in three new international retailers, increasing its thriving export business to 16 countries worldwide, adding Continente stores in Portugal, Dinosol Group stores in the Canary Islands, and Rossmann in Germany, to their network.

The British brand has launched five products from its range into these stores, and Simon tells CosmeticsDesign-Europe.com that having launched in other markets worldwide has been a great help and good learning experience for future expansion.

CosmeticsDesign-Europe.com: What are the key factors to consider when launching into new international markets?

Simon Duffy: We look for exciting opportunities in new markets where we can work with great retailers and great people. Partnership is a very important factor for us when we are making decisions. It’s important that your local teams understand your vision and values, and that they will be good partners for building your brand. We want to work with the biggest and best retailers in the world as we know we can play an important role growing the male skincare category when the range is well presented. We are seeing great success with partners like Carrefour in Spain, Olive Young in Korea, Whole Foods in America and Woolworths in Australia.

CDE: What are the current challenges for European exports?

SD: There is a lot of instability at the moment, which is creating volatility in exchange rates. The burden of regulation remains high and the cosmetics industry is a long way off being a truly common market as each country continues to interpret regulations in different ways and layers their own rules on top of what should be standard practice. For example, the administrative and regulatory challenges involved in launching in Australia are far easier for British brands to navigate. It would be a good idea for any companies considering exporting within Europe for the first time to seek contact with a UKTI trade advisor for advice on any local nuance in trading regulations.

CDE: What are the difficulties of launching in new/established markets?

Bulldog Winter 2015
Bulldog has launched three new products for Winter 2015/16

SD: In our experience, export has been a wonderful part of the journey. The absolute key to this success is that we’ve partnered with fantastic distribution partners. We visit all our international markets regularly and spend time with each distributor and retail partner. We’ve met amazing people, learnt a great deal, and still get the same excited feeling when we see our products on the shelves of retailers around the world.

CDE: How tough is it to challenge local players/ leading brands in these markets? How do you do it?

SD: Bulldog competes by being different. We challenge industry conventions on ingredients, packaging, ethics and marketing. Typically we compete against the same brands overseas as we do at home. I like to think that we are more nimble than these larger companies. Recent new product launches in Korea are a good example of this and we are generating great momentum in this market by thinking more entrepreneurially.

CDE: How big / important is the export business now to Bulldog?

SD: Our export business is very important. Over the next five years the export part of business will be growing very quickly, and it’s important this external momentum continues to be well-managed and supported by the team at our Headquarters in London. Manufacturing our range in the UK is a key part of our approach and it’s a great thrill for our team to be able to sell these products all around the world.

CDE: How is the men’s grooming market looking in different markets around the world?

SD: I see three major trends in the men’s grooming market;

Growing consumer awareness and understanding of the benefit of male skincare products, which will translate into continued high growth rates for the category.

The continued clustering of conventional product launches around the same old idea of feminine-skincare-expertise-for-men. We believe this as a compromise for most men, and ultimately unlikely to be a winning long-term prospect for unlocking new category growth. There is usually a big one of these every couple of years. In 2013 it was Unilever’s Dove Men + Care.

The growing adoption of natural ingredients by consumers. Bulldog’s progress in the competitive men’s skincare market over the last eight years – something many people would not have predicted back when we started in 2007 – is a testament to this.

Related topics: Brand Innovation

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