Courtesy of Radius Toothbrush
| Radius CEO Saskia Foley and co-founder Kevin Foley, her father. Radius recently won the 2016 President's "E" Award for Export Success from the U.S. Department of Commerce.
U.S. has a robust, growing personal care products market
Tuesday July 12, 2016 12:01 AM
By Susan L. Pena - Reading Eagle correspondent
Personal care products manufactured in the U.S. are in demand all over the globe, and the market keeps growing.
According to Francine Lamoriello, executive vice president of global strategies for the Personal Care Products Council in Washington, the industry exported $17 billion in products manufactured in the U.S. in 2015, out of $1.5 trillion total U.S. exports.
"In our industry, we're net exporters, meaning we export more than we import," Lamoriello said in a recent telephone interview with Business Weekly. Lamoriello is responsible for all of the council's international advocacy and activities, helping its 500 member-companies sell their products abroad. These include shampoo, conditioner, cosmetics, moisturizers, toothpaste, sunscreen and deodorant: "anything used to cleanse, beautify and protect the body," she said. Appliances are not included.
'Brands are in demand'
"It's clear that our brands are in demand by global consumers," Lamoriello said. "Global trade is a very important component of our industry. Even for small and medium-sized companies, it's important for them to be seeking out new export markets. U.S. brands, especially niche brands, can be quite exciting to foreign consumers."
Radius Corp., based in Kutztown since 1988, has been manufacturing toothbrushes since founders Kevin Foley and James O'Halloran introduced their unique design to the New York market in 1983. After receiving an Accent on Design Award the following year and getting a huge order from Brookstone, it became well-known for a product that was not only functional, but radically different and beautiful.
Radius expanded its lines to include children's toothbrushes, some variations on the original design, travel cases for personal-care items, dental floss and, most recently, a folding travel toothbrush.
Radius is in the midst of launching an organic toothpaste, so even though toothbrushes technically don't count as personal-care products, they're now entering that realm.
Radius has been exporting its products for years, said Kevin's daughter Saskia Foley, who is the company's CEO.
Kevin is semi-retired but still involved in the design of some Radius products.
"We worked with England for many years," said Saskia. "My father is English, and my mother is Dutch, so our mentality is very international in general."
Like the members of the Personal Care Products Council, Radius has found that consumers in Asia and Europe are increasingly intrigued by the company's high-end products.
"Our export sales have been growing rapidly," she said. "Two years ago, exports were 14 percent of our sales, and last year they were 27 percent. So international sales are up 58 percent."
In fact, Radius recently won the 2016 President's "E" Award for Export Success from the U.S. Department of Commerce, the most prestigious award a company can get for exports, and it was the only Pennsylvania company to receive one.
Biggest market is Asia
Its biggest market now, she said, is in Asia, particularly Korea and Japan. When Radius begins a relationship with an export partner, Foley relies on the partner to come up with a marketing plan, rather than using her own people, because they are the experts on their own consumers.
For example, she said, her Korean distributor encouraged Radius to focus on their children's toothbrushes there, and through personal contacts managed to get "a huge spot on a TV morning show and a big ad placement in a top Korean mothers' magazine."
As a result, Radius' Totz toothbrush is now the No. 1 children's toothbrush in Korea, Foley said.
"We have been focusing on the baby stores and the high-end retail and supermarkets for distribution," she said. "Korean mothers want the best of the best for their children. We have huge, spiraling sales there."
She said it's important, when entering the international market, not to go too fast, but to look at a country's situation and make sure it's viable.
"You could jump right in and lose your shirt," Foley said.
Lamoriello said that at this point, the largest markets for its members are Canada, the United Kingdom and Mexico, although she said the recent Brexit may cause the U.K. market shrink somewhat if the pound drops in value. But China, Korea, Japan and Hong Kong are growing markets, and "one of our biggest and fastest-growing markets is in Indonesia," she said.
Because of this, she said the Personal Care Products Council is a strong supporter of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which is awaiting ratification in Congress.
"Our industry is very dependent on free markets and free trade around the world, with low tariffs and avoiding non-tariff barriers," Lamoriello said. "Also, the TPP is the first agreement that also has a commitment to harmonizing regulations, increasing consumer safety around the world and facilitating trade."
In fact, she said, the TPP contains a special annex for cosmetics, Chapter 8d, in which it says cosmetics regulations will be based on risk, rather than being regulated as drugs, because "they have a lower-risk profile."
Because of the harmonized situation and the removal of some regulations, "it will be less costly to put products on the market in the TPP area," Lamoriello said. "We hope (the TPP) will serve as a model for future trade agreements."
Contact Susan L. Pena:firstname.lastname@example.org.
Courtesy of Radius Toothbrush | Radius Corp. CEO and President Saskia Foley and co-founder and Chairman Kevin Foley, her father. Like the members of the Personal Care Products Council, Radius has found that consumers in Asia and Europe are increasingly intrigued by the company's high-end products.
Courtesy of Radius Toothbrush | New organic toothpastes from Radius utilize a formulation of organic coconut oil and salt.