Dubbed as Europe’s No. 1 value cosmetics brand, Essence got young Filipino women excited when an eye-catching counter was introduced to SM stores. The European-made cosmetics come in vibrant packaging at average prices below P200.
You can get a glossy lip balm for as low as P79, and the most expensive is the Stay All Day foundation which fetches P299.
On Facebook and blog sites, Essence has hard-nosed critics raving over the makeup’s qualities—strong pigmentation, user-friendly application, long wear, irresistible packaging and affordable prices.
“It’s the customer who tells the brand what to do,” says Rishi Mirani of Bhagi’s Internationl Trading Corporation, the importer of Essence, which forged a tie-up with Watsons and SM for exclusive distribution.
“In my more than 20 years in the market, I’ve seen many beauty companies perform very well but never quite focused on the end-user. Essence is driven by market demands,” says Andres Sardi, international sales director of Cosnova Beauty, the maker of Essence.
“The major concerns of our core markets are that we are not doing tests on animals and if the quality is good for their skin, which is very sensitive. They need to know if the product is being produced with high standards. The company strategy is to manufacture mainly in the European Union.
Our major producers are Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, and France. This has no direct assumption that everything from China is bad. Many products from China are seen as not high-performance. This may not reflect reality, but it is the perception.”
Essence was developed 11 years ago to make high-quality makeup accessible to a young market, ages 15-30. The prices are one-third of the average cost of the other competitors.
“We cut down on unnecessary baggage like expensive marketing campaigns and expensive packaging. Every single penny we save will be passed on to quality, instead of the circus around the product. We bring tremendous innovation in the composition and texture of the product at a ridiculous value for money,” says Sardi.
For product development, Essence relies on consumer feedback from Facebook. “They keep an eye on us. We are close to them because we know what they like and dislike,” he says.
Likewise, the blogs tend to compare it with other brands. Take the gel eyeliner. Bloggers waxed lyrical about its added shimmer and depth and seamless application, even for first-time users of liquid eyeliner.
“There are gel liners—L’Oreal Hip, Maybelline Eye Studio and Bobbi Brown Gel Liner—but these Essence ones are so much smoother to apply,” writes an Australian blogger.
About the all-day creme shadow, an Irish blogger writes, “A lovely gold color. It works great as a base or on its own. The staying power is pretty good, too. Would love to see a larger color selection but I am thrilled with this one so far. Again, this is good if you’re not quite sure about cream eyeshadows and would like to test out their offerings. This gets a thumbs up from me.”
This Irish blogger was skeptical about Essence’s cheek color until she tried the Silky Touch Blush. “This color means business. A gorgeous peachy-orange blush with some barely noticeable shimmer (which I like). It would also suit most all skin tones, in my humble opinion. A tad bit chalky, but nothing a good tapping of your brush and some gentle blending can’t handle. It doesn’t look chalky on, though; just looks very prettiful! Dread I say it… Perfect for spring!”
A Singaporean blogger also raves about another Essence product: “I’m not a blotter fan actually as my skin will tend to produce more facial oil after blotting. Hmmm, was a bit skeptical using this product but after using a couple of times, they prove to me they are rather gentle blotters! How so? Good in absorbing excess oil… Blotters should not absorb all of the oil as it will provoke the skin to produce more facial oil than before, and that’s how and why skin condition will become oily.”
Essence’s top sellers are Get Big waterproof and I Love Style mascaras.
“After a few coats, the mascara does not clump, which is good; the lashes are naturally separated due to the fiber brushes, and the formulation feels good and definitely lasted the whole day for me,” comments another Singaporean blogger.
“Our mascaras have a good lifespan even in humid weather,” says Sardi.
Essences launches some 200 items a year. Its biggest innovation is the gel nail polish for home use. Women normally spend a fortune to go to a salon for long-wearing gel nail polish and have it removed with a special solution not acetone. However, when Essence gel nail polish hits the shelves in mid-year, they can get premium nail polish at a fraction of the cost.
“It will be offered in the Philippines soon. The state-of-the-art gel application doesn’t damage the nails. You just peel it off,” says Sardi. In humidity, the nail polish can last for 10 days.
Essence will also introduce lip colors with pigments that adapt to the skin, and multitasking makeup.
When Essences was launched in Asia, the company introduced the UV filter makeup base, which is lighter and protect the skin from the humid weather.
“The best-selling foundation in the world is not yet found. In the humidity of Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand, girls prefer liquid foundation and the two-way wet and dry cake, and reapply with a powder compact.
In Pakistan and India, the mousse is more popular. Based on our feedback, the application is very fluffy and nice on the skin. You don’t get stickiness common in other makeup. It doesn’t clog pores. I am not quoting feedback from Europe where the weather is different. Some companies refer to feedback on a worldwide scale when it’s just coming from a particular market,” explains Sardi.
“Since we do our marketing on social media, we open the doors for full transparency. Whenever we deliver any product to the market, we take in complaints and requests very seriously. We adapt the products to the consumers’ standards.” Marge C. Enriquez, contributor