Brazil’s Adcos is a leading cosmetics manufacturer that has uncovered a winning formula: adopting the latest European technology and adapting it to the tropics. The 15-year-old company’s Executive Director Ricardo Maeski talks to Michael Sommers about the challenges – and opportunities – in competing against global brands on a Brazilian playing field.
Going head-to-head with European beauty care giants is no easy feat, particularly in Brazil. Traditionally, Brazilian consumers have found it difficult to resist the cachet of European skin products sporting the names (and marketing clout) of household brands such as L’Oréal, Lancôme, and Vichy. However, when you take the latest in European dermatological and cosmetic technology, and then reformulate it to respond to the very specific needs of a racially diverse population living in a hot and humid climate, medical professionals and beauty seekers alike start rethinking the value of France style over Brazilian substance.
It isn’t that Adcos, a cosmetics firm that specializes in quality skin care treatment products, doesn’t recognize the cutting edge advances that have long placed European cosmetics in the vanguard of the industry. In fact, the company’s raison d’être came about as the result of founder Ada Mota’s studies in dermocosmetics at the University of Paris. Upon completing further research at French cosmetic firms, Mota returned home to Brazil determined to open up her own company that would take advantage of the best of European dermatological advances to treat Brazilians’ skin. Fittingly – for a country that boasts the highest rate of skin cancer on the planet – when Adcos first went into production in 1993, its principal line consisted of sun filters.
“Sun filters were our first products and their success really leveraged our growth,” recalls Adcos’ President Ricardo Maeski. “What is unique about our sun blocks is that they not only protect consumers from the sun’s harmful rays, but they also eliminate collateral skin problems such as acne, while moisturizing the skin and preventing aging.
Today, Adcos produces more than 22 different types of sun block. The line is its top seller along with Reduxcel, an anti-cellulite treatment, originally introduced in 2002, and Gradual Complex, the latest of several brands of anti-aging and anti-wrinkle treatments. Together, these three lines account for 80 percent of the company’s total production. Adcos’ operations are carried out at a modern 10,000-square-foot facility that is outfitted with state-of-the-art labs and presided over by a highly reputed technical team of specialized pharmacists and chemists. Current annual production capacity is two million units, but Adcos has plans to keep expanding its mix of products – and to make pre-existing ones even better.
INNOVATIONS AND REFORMULATIONS
“The defining characteristic of this company has been our constant commitment to innovation,” declares Maeski. “We attend a lot of international conferences and events and, as a result, we’re always on top of all the latest global medical and dermatological advances. Because of this, we’re in a position to bring these new products to the Brazilian market before our competitors can. Meanwhile, in terms of the lines we already have, we’re constantly updating our formulas.”
Among the new industry trends that Adcos is currently incorporating into its products is an advanced formula for sun block that helps to protect the DNA in skin cells (and thus prevent the development of spots and blemishes that run the risk of becoming cancerous). Later this year, it also will be the first company in Brazil to launch a new anti-aging skin product that uses stem cell technology to combat wrinkles. Other recent novelties include anti-oxidant facial masks, an entire skin care line that caters to men’s specific needs, and a line of treatments especially designed for use in spas.
The company is even tentatively making forays into the international market. Having formerly done business in Spain, Adcos currently has a distributor in Portugal. It hopes that by gaining a foothold there, it will have a launchpad from which it can then branch out into the rest of the European marketplace. “The European market is more demanding and, to comply with all of their standards, we have made changes in our formulations that now allow us to compete anywhere in the world,” says Maeski.“However, no matter where we go, our mission remains the same: to create treatment solutions that promote beauty, health, and well-being.”