Exclusive interview - Mr. Luigi Bergamaschi, the second-generation leader of L’erbolario
Present in 6,000 stores across 32 countries, L’Erbolario was founded in 1978 by a husband-and-wife pair of herbalists from an Italian town of Lodi, Italy. The company is known for its ethical products, herbal ingredients and environment friendly practices. In our exclusive interview with Mr. Luigi Bergamaschi, the second-generation leader of the company, he shares his strategies for the company’s sustainable growth in Asia.
Natural and organic beauty products are all over the market today. What makes your company’s products safe and unique?
L’Erbolario is among a few international natural skin care brands that have their own R&D centers and production sites.
Our Research and Development Laboratory which is composed of top chemists, biologists and pharmacists for new cosmetic formulations and new applications is recognized by the Ministry of Universities and Research (MURST), Italy. And we also have Innovative Extraction Laboratory focusing on developing sophisticated and beneficial extraction techniques. Our product safety, hypo-allergenicity and function are certified by strict clinical tests conducted by the University of Pavia.
Every single product of L’Erbolario is produced under one-roof, from R&D, extraction, formulation, testing, manufacturing, bottling to packaging. All are done in our own laboratories and plants, making sure all of our lines of products are 100% made in Italy.
The company founder, Mr. Franco Bergamaschi, won Italy’s “Best CEO for environmental sustainability” in 2016. To what extent have you been influenced by the company’s green mindset and mission to launch more green and sustainable practice? And which green practice impressed you most?
Actually, our family love green. And sustainability is really in my blood. Going green is not just a slogan. It’s really our mission. We walk the talk.
Since 2002, we have been awarded the Environmental Management System (UNI EN ISO 14001). Recently we have renewed our 25,000 sq. m logistic hub to achieve greater sustainability. For example, with the installation of solar panels, it not only allows us to save up to 900 KwP electricity per year, it uses the heat from the sun to warm domestic water without the use of the conventional boiler to make hot water available all the year round. In addition, the geothermal pumps generating heat flow beneath the floor provides an energy-saving heating system. With this system in place, we have reduced 40% of gas emissions in 5 years! Bravo!
And which product line impressed you most?
Our new body care line “L’Olivio” is my gem. We collect the crushed organic olives and water produced after the oil separation process from the local oil mills, then extract the olive, distill the water and up cycle it into our brand new olive-enriched shampoo, shower gel and body cream. So during the olive oil production, nothing is thrown away.
In Asia, L'Erbolario has expanded into Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Korea and Malaysia in a steady pace for the past 10 years. How do you view the Asian market?
Widespread access to the Internet and new media means consumers have greater access to information. Their concerns on product safety and efficacy drive sales of our products. Now, 50% of our export turnover goes to Asia and we are happy about the progress. But, on the other hand, Asia’s emerging markets are a hypercompetitive free-for-all and we can foresee the challenges ahead. The K-Beauty phenomenon, consumer’s preferences on Japanese cosmetics brands, the competition from Thai natural beauty brands, all complexity and changes are occurring fast in today’s Asia beauty market.
In Italy, we are a beauty brand that has 40 years of history. We have good reputation and more than 80% Italian women know our brand. In Asia, compared with other global beauty brands, we are still a very “young” brand.
But I believe our brand has a very unique proposition and we have so many stories to tell. Now branding has become so important for us, more than ever than before. It’s time for us, as a brand owner, and our worldwide distributors to work more closely together to differentiate our brand to other natural or organic brands in the world and convey our messages to the consumers in the best possible way.
|One Minute With
|What was your first job?
My first job was in the company, during summer break, as a data entry clerk. 15 years ago, we held a contest for our company 25th anniversary. My job, together with other colleagues, was to enter the data of participating customers in the database. I was impressed by how many people were in love of L’Erbolario and took part in this contest! Then, the next few years, I got job rotations – from our flagship store and warehouse to logistics and R&D department. All these were very useful for me. What a wonderful experience!What's the most challenging part of your job?
As I am working in marketing and sales, I think that the most challenging part of my job is to be able to make many different sales channels “live together”. In Italy, we are selling in pharmacies, herbalist shops, franchisees and direct shops. We sell in about 5,000 shops in the country, sometimes they are very close! Every kind of shop has its own peculiarity, and trying to satisfy everybody is not always so easy. But, I guess it is also the funniest part of my job. I can speak with many of them daily. And in my opinion, for a company it is extremely important to have constant feedback from the trade.If you weren't in the beauty cosmetics industry, what would you be?
This is a good question. As I always work in this field, I’ve never asked this to myself. I guess I would have worked in the food industry. I am a food lover, just like many other Italian. A lot of processes are similar in food and natural cosmetics, and I am very fascinated of this world.What is your daily skincare routine?
Probably, I would not be the best customer for skincare products. In Europe, skincare routine for men is not still very developed. However, I have seen in Asia, many men are having the habit of using skincare products.
Anyway, I use shampoo Folta Chioma to prevent hair loss every day, shower gel (depending on seasons, but recently I am using Indigo - our newest line), deodorant (Black Juniper is my favourite), shaving cream and after-shave (Absinthe). Sometimes, when it is very cold that the skin of my face is dry, I like to use Hyaluronic Acid face cream, very light texture and fast-absorbing. During holidays, I use our SPF 15 body cream, and aftersun (Soleombra), if necessary. Moreover, I take a lot of herbal supplements, made by our sister company Erbamea.