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Having a great product is good, but without promotion it won’t go very far. Camille Howard talks to a business owner who is using the media to get her business message across Australia and around the globe.

Active ImageRunning a publishing company in Sydney for 15 years taught Andrea Horwood how the media works. Selling the business in the late 90s—followed by a brief foray into venture capital—Horwood and her husband started a cosmetics brand, drawing on her contacts in the industry to get the word out.

Her new business, under company name Ganehill, came about after discovering a nanoparticle product, ZinClear, produced by Advanced Nanotechnology in Western Australia. "They basically made a sunscreen; they made zinc clear."

Horwood realised the company had a good product but didn’t know how to market it or take it out to the public. "They’d had ZinClear for a year, but it had very low recognition, people didn’t know about it. New research has shown that UVA is the one that causes ageing and cancer, and most of the sunscreens on the market don’t block effectively because they’re designed to block UVB. So it’s a major story. It’s a health issue, not just a beauty issue, and that was my main reason for wanting to get involved and start a company around this product."

So Ganehill uses this technology—nanoparticles of zinc oxide—as the base ingredient for its beauty range.

"Our strategy was to try and make as much noise about this as possible because we feel it’s a very important message." This is when her contacts in publishing came into play, including access to the agent for Australian model Megan Gale. "I thought Megan would be the ideal person to take the message to the public because the public in Australia are so fond of her," she says of Gale’s girl-next-door reputation within Australia. "She’s very much behind this product and realises how important it is in a country like Australia, with the melanoma rates we have."

So once the formulations were perfected and approved by the TGA (Therapeutic Goods Administration), Gale was brought on board as the face and name behind the range launched in Australia three years ago.


Export Strategy

Active ImageAs well as making the product successful in Australia, Horwood was keen to export it and Italy seemed an obvious step. As a popular face in Italy already—Gale lives there and was recently named as Australia’s honorary tourism ambassador to Italy—Gale’s profile is high in the European country.

"When we teamed up with Megan," says Horwood, "it made sense to go into Italy because she had such a strong voice there as well. Every time there is press on Megan in Australia it does travel through to Italy."

In fact, when Horwood launched Gale’s new bath and body range in Sydney recently—who could have missed the stunning launch in Sydney with Gale taking a bath in the shop window of a CBD department store—the Italian market expressed such interest, they have had to rethink their decision to launch the same range in Italy next year: "We’re going to have to do that much earlier, now."

While Gale’s popularity helped to make the launch of the range successful, Austrade was also instrumental in taking the brand to the Italian market. "Austrade were very helpful in Italy and we did use their office there. It’s a very specific market and we needed assistance. You definitely need someone there."

Austrade helped find distributors for the products, breaking down some of the language and cultural barriers to help Ganehill get its products into the market.

The next stop was the UK. While the products were launched under the Megan Gale brand in Australia and Italy, the products were re-branded and launched in the UK under a new name, Z01.

And Horwood says her publishing contacts proved a big help again. "In the UK, it’s an easier market for people who are familiar with or have contacts in the market there. We formed a partnership with people in the UK and they are very well connected in the industry and have knowledge and association that goes from the media through to store buyers

"Coming in from the outside is difficult unless you want to be very niche and just supply to a few retailers. But if you have a product that has wide appeal, then creating some tentacles in that country, in that market, is very important. Local knowledge is very important.

"We’ve used new packaging and designers from the UK, making sure we tapped into a style and a voice [reflecting the market] was very important. We set up an office in London, so we have a base there. All the packaging was printed and produced in Australia, as are all the products, but we did design this range for the UK market and for Europe and it will also be very relevant for the US market."


Profile Building

Being able to make use of the media effectively has been key for Ganehill to get its products across to the public. Even before the products hit shelves in the UK market in April this year, Horwood and her team made sure the products were known in the media. And having spent so much time on the other side of the fence, Horwood knew a few tricks to get the message through to the right people. "We launched the range with the press there early this year with a concentration on the product’s benefits. We had a leading London-based dermatologist give an educational talk to beauty editors about UVA and sun exposure. While that’s less of a health issue in Europe, for the beauty editors it’s very important because over 70 percent of ageing is caused by UVA.

"The Z01 has been received tremendously well; we’re in the best retail outlets in the UK." These include Selfridges’ busy cosmetics floor, as well as Harrods and Bliss Bars.

Horwood attributes ZO1’s success to the good press it has received since its launch. She is particularly proud of the editorial coverage received in the British Vogue magazine, which she says is an influential title for the American press and other editors around the world. This will come in handy, of course, for their next assault: on the US market.

"Our aim is to have five or six different brands in different markets around the world," she says. So far there is the Megan Gale brand for Australian and Italian markets, and ZO1 in the UK and soon-to-be-launched US market. "It’s regarded as a medicinal brand [in the US], it has a very different position. We didn’t want it to be confused with a celebrity brand," Horwood explains.

One of the challenges Ganehill faces involves getting their TGA-rated products recognised in other countries. "We have the highest standards of sunscreen testing and accountability in this country for good reason," Horwood says, "but for some of our products, we have to create a dossier and have them registered in each different region and the regulations are different in each place. So, although we’re going in with a higher quality product, we have to hire consultants and go through the regulatory bodies in each country and sometimes, such as in Europe, there’s not a standard, you have to go through each different country’s systems. You need a lot of back-up and support from organisations like Austrade for that kind of thing. But when you’re dealing with TGA products or registered sunscreen product, it does vary from market to market. That’s a very time-consuming and complicated exercise.

"Being the first to market with a product always has its difficulties. It’s been an education process, from Megan talking to the media, and us talking to our retailers, and getting the message to the public, that’
s been our role for the last two years."

Despite the competitive nature of the skincare market, Ganehill’s success is largely attributed to being the first to use this technology—not that Horwood is resting on this laurel alone as Ganehill prepares to take on more export markets. "In four to five years most of the major cosmetic houses will have a zinc-based sunscreen and will use zinc instead of titanium dioxide and other ingredients as their blocking agent. We believe it’s the best product for the future and it’s important for us, as an Australian company, to be first to market in the US."

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