Features

A Functional Foundation

September 15, 2010

Canadian beauty brand Functionalab is turning some heads and attracting some of the most prestigious retailers in the world.

As more consumers recognize the relationship between inner health and outer beauty, innovative companies that offer science-based nutritional products—which actually deliver on their attractive health claims—are moving the nutricosmetics category to more established territory.


Gaining accolades from leading European retailers for its unique concepts and high potential for market success, Canadian beauty brand Functionalab recently received the Discover Beauty Award at Cosmoprof Worldwide Bologna 2010, a beauty exhibition that attracted about 2000 exhibitors in May.

Buyers participating in the voting process included the following prominent retailers: Fred Segal (U.S.), Galleries Lafayette (France), Harrods (UK), House of Fraser (UK), La Rinascente (Italy), Le Bon Marche, Le Printemps (France), Sephora (Italy) and SpaceNK (UK/U.S.), among others.

Functionalab’s approach to beauty takes the perspective that inner health will lead to a more attractive appearance. With that in mind, the company has launched a comprehensive line of nutricosmetics and nutraceuticals that target specific health and beauty profiles and objectives.

“We wanted to take the guesswork out of choosing supplements,” said Francis Maheu, the company’s co-president. “Based on our market research, I think there’s a fair amount of confusion among consumers concerning what they should take. We try to really focus on the need of the customer and provide a full solution.”

The company’s Beauty Doses include 11 different formulas that address specific beauty objectives for face and body, including Pure Complexion; Weight Management; Body Toning; Age Defense 30+; Anti Age 40+; Hair, Skin & Nails; Opti Tan Formula; Radiance Formula; Collagen Formula; Detox Formula; and Ulta Health.

According to the company, “research has shown us that dietary supplements formulated with selected active ingredients are extremely beneficial for the skin and other tissues, and can fight the visible signs of aging. Specific nutrients nourish the cells at a deeper level and support key metabolic functions, playing an important role in the appearance of the face and the body.”

For example, Pure Complexion contains a milk protein complex that consists of a minimum of 80% lactoferrin, which helps balance oily skin and contributes to skin purity; beta-carotene to help maintain healthy and elastic skin, and promote healthy skin pigmentation and tanning; vitamin C, which contributes to normal collagen formation; and selenium, zinc and vitamin E.

Alongside specific supplement formulas, Functionalab has launched 11 different Personalized Packs, which combine various nutrients, extracts and vitamins to target specific health and beauty objectives, such as Ultra Antioxidants & Superfruits; Trimming and Toning; Anti Age 40+; Hair, Skin & Nails; PMS Hormonal Balance; and Menopause with Osteo Support.

Each pack begins with the foundation of a high quality multivitamin, according to Mr. Maheu, and also provides additional nutrients that address specific profiles. For example, Anti Age 40+ includes a collagen formula that consists of vitamin C and two amino acids, L-lysine and L-proline, to support collagen production. Hyaluronic acid is an antioxidant that protects cells from free radicals, and zeaxanthin and lutein are carotenoids that help hydrate mature skin and improve skin elasticity. Lutein also improves skin appearance from damage associated with premature aging, according to the company.

While most beauty brands typically target women exclusively, Functionalab’s Personalized Packs line also includes Cardio Support and Sports & Fitness, which could apply to men and women alike, according to Mr. Maheu. “Typically, most supplement purchases are done by women in the household,” he noted. “While we are targeting them more specifically with our distribution strategy, there are solutions that are fantastic for men too. As part of our strategy, we introduce women to the brand and eventually they might buy products for their husband or boyfriend.”

The company is also looking to capitalize on the growing trend of shot-sized liquid dietary supplements like 5-Hour Energy. Functionalab’s 2-oz. Liquid Doses are available in Beauty, Energy and Zen formulas. Additionally, the company’s Health Drops are highly concentrated water-soluble drops, available in Antiox or Detox formulas.

Functionalab has focused on distributing its products in “premium beauty environments.” Products are available at Henri Bendel on 5th Avenue in New York City, SpaceNK, Harvey Nichols Knightsbridge, Harrods and other large retailers in the UK. The company also expects to gain placement in Joyce Beauty and Lane Crawford in Hong Kong, China this September. Meanwhile, Functionalab is also eyeing markets in France, The Netherlands, Spain and key countries in Latin America, where its products have been well received to date.

The link between nutrition and beauty has gained more recognition in the health and beauty world over the years, according to Mr. Maheu. “People have been talking about this for the past 10 years and now it’s really coming to fruition. You’re hearing at the retail level that consumers are more aware, there’s more traction and more companies have emerged.”

However, educating consumers remains an obstacle to future growth and should be a priority for those looking to expand the category, he added. “In the U.S. it’s a little more difficult than in other countries. I don’t think the awareness is as high and the distribution channel is not as adapted. The U.S. is going to be an important driver, but it’s not moving as fast.”

Mr. Maheu noted that 2010 was a year of “positioning” for his company. “In 2011 you’re going to see our products on shelves and points of sale in many more countries.”
 
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