Dow Chemical Gets Personal

By Tom Branna, Editorial Director | February 17, 2011

With a deep understanding of consumer behavior, a huge R&D organization behind it and several new product launches to come, Dow Home and Personal Care executives insist that they are well-positioned to grow in the global personal care category.

For personal care formulators, there’s a lot to like about the new Dow Chemical. The company spent much of 2009 organizing its business following the acquisition of Rohm and Haas in April 2009.

That move created a Home & Personal Care unit with annual sales of approximately $700 million, according to Eunice Heath, general manager, Dow Home & Personal Care. Interestingly enough, there were no product overlaps as a result of the acquisition, which enables Dow Home & Personal Care to offer an array of solutions.

“We are having broader, deeper conversations with our customers than ever before,” insisted Heath.

Last year, Dow Home & Personal Care began operating as one team by building its innovation pipeline and leveraging all of Dow Chemical’s capabilities, explained Lionel Genix, global marketing director, personal care division.

“Customer intimacy is at the core of the new business model,” explained Genix. “We understand the needs of thecustomer and the consumer. That means we speak the language of the consumer, not technical (jargon).”

According to Genix, the new Dow Chemical business model is built on three pillars:

• Knowledge of application;

• Consumer insight; and

• Innovation power.

The Dow Home and Personal Care team is adept at formulating products that are as good as its customers in order to showcase its technology.

“We’ve made huge progress in hair, skin and sun care,” insisted Genix.

A Global Network of Consumer Research

In terms of consumer insight, Dow has put a global network in place to understand the wants and needs of consumers all over the world.

“We want to be proactive with our customers. So we’re conducting consumer research in China, Brazil, the U.S., Japan and Europe,” explained Genix.

Finally, Dow Chemical’s $1.6 billion R&D budget is among the highest in the industry. But Genix cautioned that insights are key to utilizing all of Dow Chemical’s expertise.

“If you don’t understand the customer, you can’t leverage the R&D,” he explained. “Understanding the customer is something we do very well.”

Genix knows the importance of remaining customer-centric. Prior to joining Rohm and Haas in 2002, he was an R&D leader for Procter & Gamble and worked as a process engineer for L’Oréal.

What’s New?

With its business model in place, Dow Home and Personal Care has a roster of new products in the marketplace and in the pipeline. For example, the company recently launched EcoSmooth Silk conditioning polymers, which company executives insist represent a new approach to providing conditioning benefits in personal care products.

“It matches silicone for wet and dry combing properties and increases hair strength,” said Courtney Fretz, strategic marketing manager, home and personal care.

The polymers are anionic and nonionic, so they don’t weigh hair down, and represent at 1:1 replacement for silicones, according to Fretz. EcoSmooth Silk conditioning polymers are said to be especially effective with Asian and European virgin (non-dyed) hair types, and have been proven externally to match silicone in wet and dry combing, as well as minimize hair breakage compared with silicone-containing shampoos.

According to Dow Home and Personal Care, EcoSmooth Silk conditioning polymers do not use the traditional co-acervation mechanisms associated with cationic conditioners. Since Eco-Smooth Silk is not cationically charged, it uses hydrophobic forces, instead of ionic forces, that bind to the hair shaft and give hair a softer feel.

In a series of comparative performance tests, formulations containing EcoSmooth Silk Conditioning Polymers were shown to prevent product buildup on the hair, resulting in no volume-down effects, as compared to silicone-containing shampoos.

What’s Ahead?

Later this year, the personal care division will roll out four new products for hair, skin and sun care. More specifically, there will be a new UVA protectant, another EcoSmooth offering that addresses manageability, new ingredients for body wash formulations and new skin care actives and active delivery systems. Genix maintains that all of them will be radically different than products currently on the market. While the planned launches are impressive, in the end, it all comes down to the customer for Dow Home and Personal Care executives.

“We will be customer-driven, not technologically-pushed,” insisted Genix. “Our three pillars of knowledge, insight and innovation will enable the personal care business to achieve significant growth. We expect to be a top-tier player for value-added ingredients.”

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