Use your coconut!
WRY BREAD - Philip Cu-Unjieng (The Philippine Star) - February 22, 2015 - 12:00am

When Rica King retired a few years ago as country manager for a global skin- and body-care brand, it was with the full expectation that she would retire for good, and turn her back on the hurly-burly of running a business. Her management and marketing skills had made her a legend in the industry; starting trends on how to create visibility and awareness, and turning invaluable PR and marketing initiatives into solid sales growths and market share.

But as is often the case with individuals who are destined to lead and innovate, the itch to start something new and face novel challenges was too hard to resist; and a new start-up, Coco Health Products has Rica at its helm. The SKU’s (Stock Keeping Units) of soaps/beauty bars, body wash and body lotions carry the Cocoline Naturals brand, and the story and concept behind the brand help us understand why Rica found throwing her hat back in the ring irresistible.

Stuck at home in front of a desktop, Rica would note how trends in the industry she had been immersed in was fueled by marketing efforts that would call this or that active ingredient the “Next Big Thing.” If history taught us how Southern Europe had pushed olive oil, now it was Western Africa’s Burkina Faso and its shea butter, or Morocco and its argan oil. And Rica would be struck by the fact that if you compiled recognized health benefits, our very own coconut oil had much more listed benefits, and yet was not duly recognized globally.

With healthy, natural products as the global trend, Rica set out to create formulations that would employ virgin coconut oil as its base, and be processed in a manner that would make the products affordable, yet paraben-free. Packaging was another important element as she viewed how local products in the skin- and body-care category were presented to consumers. And when the natural disasters of late-2013 struck our nation, Rica saw the devastation, how our local coconut farmers were affected, and a built-in advocacy was formed, spurring her to make the momentous decision to “get back in the saddle.”

At Cocoline Naturals launch at Green Sun in Makati City recently, the products unveiled were the beauty bars, body wash and body lotion. There are two variants: the Intense Moisturizing, which has coconut, milk and licorice as its active ingredients; while aware of the still prevalent market trend, the second variant is a Triple Whitening line that employs papaya, Kojic acid and Vitamin C as its prime ingredients. I personally sampled the products, and if scent/fragrance is one dominant factor to consumer choice, Cocoline is well on its way to acceptance. Subtle yet rich and refreshing, these products were winners in my book. And Rica laughed recounting how during the testing days, there was this one guy from the agency who had lathered the products over his arms and when he got home, restrained by a confidentiality agreement, he couldn’t explain to his wife who kept sniffing him and demanding to know where he had been.

It may be salad days for this new “baby” of Rica’s, but the baby steps they are taking are assured, confident ones. Her business acumen and attention to detail would not allow anything less. I loved one example of this: if you check out the bar code of the various SKU’s, you’ll discover something unique — some of the lines rise above the rest to form a coconut tree. A playful gesture, yes. But a detail that showcases the kind of thinking and devotion that has been placed in the products. Early reports have the pipelined outlets — supermarkets, drugstores, etc. — all excited about this new player.

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