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Foot Fete

By Christine Esposito, Associate Editor | July 29, 2010

German foot care specialist Gehwol is expanding in the U.S. by focusing on indy pharmacies, spas and podiatrists.

The feet have unique needs, and German firm Gehwol has been addressing them for more than 140 years. For the past five of them, Benestar Corp., its exclusive U.S. distributor, has been working to bring the benefits of Gehwol’s products to the aching, cracked and callused feet of U.S. consumers.

Benestar, headed by president Johnny Jarufe, has been taking calculated steps to expand distribution in the U.S. Today, Gehwol can be found in approximately 400 doors, including independent pharmacies in New York City, San Francisco and Washington D.C, as well as at swank spas in Nordstrom’s and Trump SoHo. According to Jarufe, Benestar has added three new Gehwol distributors this year, bringing the total to 13.That may seem like a small number, but he’s pleased with the progress.

“Our goals aren’t in place by numbers, it’s by marketing,” Jarufe told Happi in a phone interview from his New York office. Gehwol’s range is quite extensive, offering products and treatments for many foot-specific issues from cracked and callused heels to fungal infections. For example, there’s Fusskraft Leg Vitality, a daily balm for legs and feet that includes avocado oil, algae extracts, vitamin E, bisabolene and hamamelis (an extract from the Virginian witch hazel bush said to soothe irritation and prevent wrinkles), and FootDeo, which contains natural medicinal plant oils like rosemary and lavender, herbal extracts like chamomile and peppermint and panthenol to stimulate circulation and provide long-lasting protection against foot odor. Gehwol’s lineup also includes foot baths and salts as well as hand cream and nail care.

Gehwol med Callus Cream rolled out in Europe earlier this year and just recently hit U.S. shelves.

One of its newest SKUs is Gehwol med Callus Cream, which rolled out in Europe earlier this year and just recently hit U.S. shelves. When used twice daily, the cream can reduce excess callus by an average of 70% within 15 days and by almost 100% in the complete 28-day cycle. Studies by the proDERM Institute for Applied Dermatological Research show that due to the use of urea and silk extracts, calluses are immediately softened and reduced within five days, according to the company.

While Gehwol may be focused on the finest points of formulation science, it also pays close attention to the packaging. For example FootDeo comes in an environmentally friendly pump spray that can be used upside down while Gehwol med Protective Nail and Skin Oil relies on a dropper to dispense the oil, which contains wheat germ oil, panthenol, bisabolene and clotrimazole.

Many of the company’s formulations—such as top-selling Gehwol med Salve for cracked skin—are suited for diabetics, a select, but sizeable niche of consumers with very tender issues. To that end, Benestar is also targeting podiatrists, who can suggest Gehwol to their patients as well as others with troublesome issues such as nail fungus or Athlete’s Foot.

Gehwol’s price points fall between that of prescription products and mass market foot care brands such as Desenex and Dr. Scholl’s, according to Jarufe.

Pricing aside, the key to Gehwol’s success lies in its formulations. “Not only do they use top quality ingredients,” said Jarufe, “they know what to put together and use a percentage of each of those ingredients to bring results.”

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