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AHAVA fighting wrinkles, boycotts

With new series of skin care products combining components from Dead Sea with plants from Himalaya mountains, Israeli company aims to become one of world's leading cosmetics firms while its retailers deal with pro-Palestinian pressure

Meirav Crystal
Published: 05.13.11, 13:16 / Israel Business

Israeli cosmetics company AHAVA, which sells its products all over the world, is launching a series of anti-wrinkle products called Extreme, which aims to slow down the skin's aging process and cover up climate and age damages.

 

The series' uniqueness is in its components, which come from two ends of the world: The Dead Sea, the company's base and the lowest place in the world, and the Himalaya mountain range, the highest in the world.

 

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The two first products AHAVA is releasing in order to compete in the local and global arena, which is saturated with skin tightening products, are an Extreme Day Cream (50 ml) which costs NIS 240 (about $67), and Extreme Night Treatment (30 ml), which costs NIS 250 ($71).

 

According to the company, this is the third and most advanced stage in the Time to Revitalize skin care series for adult women. The products will be launched along with a global campaign.

 

Tibetan wild blackberry, date seed extract

The Dead Sea-Himalaya combination was born when the company's R&D Vice President Dr. Zeevi Maor visited Nepal and started exchanging knowledge with local dermatologists. "Extreme conditions exist in both places, so the plants there must develop a special durability," he explains.

 

"The research and development process took six years, and in the end we developed a formula for tightening the skin which leads to a significant reduction in the wrinkles depth."

 

From each difficult climatic zone, three main components were insulated. From the Himalaya they took Tibetan wild blackberry, Tibetan raspberry roots extract and Bryophyte seaweed which grows in the Himalaya's rocky areas.

 

According to the company's research, these components can soothe the skin, moisturize it and protect it efficiently from daily environmental damages.

 

The Dead Sea donated the following components: Osmoter – water enriched with minerals from the Dead Sea and an AHAVA patent, which nourishes the skin with moisture; Dunaliella Salina seaweed – an endogenous seaweed which can only be found in the Dead Sea area and is rich with beta-carotene and vital vitamins; and date seed extract, which is rich with Vitamins A and E.

 

"We were always natural," says AHAVA CEO Yaacov Ellis, "and the demand for natural cosmetics just increases. Even when the cosmetics market was in a state of decline due to the recession, natural cosmetics was on the rise."

 

'We steal from the Palestinians?'

But AHAVA is aiming high. Its competitors in the world are not just natural cosmetics companies, but all cosmetics companies which offer anti-wrinkle solutions.

 

AHAVA exports to 30 countries across the world. It has a subsidiary in Germany, a joint venture in the United States, 15 brand stores including six stores in Singapore and central locations in Berlin and London, and visibility in the world's biggest retail chains.

 

Abroad, AHAVA products are located on the shelves alongside luxury brands, but in Israel the company isn't as popular. In order to change its image, the company decided to change its branding.

 

"We decided on rebranding because our products were not homogenous on the shelves and because the brand's positioning in Israel is low compared to the rest of the world," says Ellis.

 

"We didn't just settle for that, and even left Israeli stories which are not at the same level of the stores we are accustomed to in the world. We left the shelves of the market directed at the wide audience, and moved to the selective market."

 

Meanwhile, AHAVA is facing two additional obstacles: A depletion of the Dead Sea resources, and protests by anti-Israel groups abroad.

 

"We defend the resources and are involved in processes aimed at saving the Dead Sea. The damage we cause is zero," Ellis claims. "We even buy the components from the Himalaya from suppliers who meet environmental standards and very strict durability conditions."

 

The attempts to boycott Israeli products, which are often directed at AHAVA products, have been futile, the company says. "After all, we have no political stance and we explain that to our retailers. We obey the Israeli law and the rules of international law.

 

"If someone turns to a retailer, we present our stand and are prepared for it in advance through PR and lobbying. We steal from the Palestinians? That's unfounded. When people come to our stores and protest against Israel, it hurts at that same moment. But many times supporters arrive too, and right now the efforts to pressure our retailers have been unsuccessful."

 

The writer was a guest of the company in Budapest

 

 

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