MALAYSIAN beauty brand ForestSecret has already made a name for itself in Indonesia with its herbal-based wellness and beauty products, which have been sold there since 2012.
However, not many are aware that ForestSecret is in fact a homegrown brand from Perak, owned by the Perak State Agricultural Development Corporation (SADC).
SADC acquired ForestSecret in 2011, when the company, first established in 2009, had approached the corporation about a collaboration.
SADC chief executive officer Datuk Ahmad Rizal Abdul Rahman said he saw this as an opportunity for the corporation to venture into the beauty business sector to promote Perak’s agricultural products and herbs.
“Before ForestSecret came to us, they were selling too many things. It was like a mixture of The Body Shop with Marks and Spencer.
“They were facing challenges in ensuring a continuous supply of ingredients for their natural beauty products.
“A state agency like ours has an abundance of land where we can easily plant raw materials and ingredients that are needed to manufacture beauty products, that’s the reason SADC decided to embark on this joint venture with ForestSecret,” he told MetroPerak, adding that SADC’s vision complements ForestSecret’s ambition to become The Body Shop of Malaysia.
Ahmad Rizal pointed out that when SADC first acquired the company, it took a while to decide on ForestSecret’s new direction.
“In the end, we wanted to focus more on agro-based cosmetic products so we can plant everything ourselves, like lemongrass, aloe vera and betel nut, in our farms in Kampung Gajah.
“So we revamped the whole image of ForestSecret to match our goals and while we were learning about doing business in the cosmetics line, we were also learning how to plant the required ingredients at the same time,” he said.
SADC also formed partnerships with the Malaysian Agricultural Research and Development Institute (Mardi), Universiti Sains Malaysia and Universiti Putra Malaysia to conduct research and development on how its cosmetics line could be improved with different types of herbs.
“When it comes to makeup, we need to evolve year by year as the market trends change as time passes.
“We can’t keep carrying on with the same thing, so now that we have the capacity to work on the R&D aspect, we need to work on expanding into different colours, flavours and fragrances,” he said.
Ahmad Rizal said in 2012, ForestSecret was mostly just supplying basic toiletries to Casuarina@Meru Hotel.
“We also decided to test the waters in Indonesia at the same time by producing ForestSecret products that catered more towards Indonesian tastes.
“Compared to Malaysians, they prefer more vibrant colours like purple.
“It was very different and we worked hard to reach the Indonesian market based on their preferences,” said Ahmad Rizal.
After three years of successfully growing the brand and products there, ForestSecret is now available in more than 400 pharmacies and retail outlets in Indonesia.
This year, the company has decided to return to its roots.
The brand launched its new cosmetic line called Forest Colour in Malaysia in August. Currently, the brand’s products are available in Kuala Lumpur.
The brand, targeting Malaysia’s middle- and higher-income consumers, has a variety of products including lip gloss, lip liner, eyeshadow, eyeliner, mascara, powder foundation and creams.
This inaugural line also features four fragrances: Diamond, Amethyst, Citrine and Larimar.
Forest Colour also introduced a full range of aloevera-based cosmetics, which it says offers anti-ageing benefits for younger looking skin.
Ahmad Rizal said product differentiation is extremely important to ensure Forest Colour’s success.
“If you look at established brands like Lancome and Maybelline, their collections are mostly product-based cosmetics.
“But for us, we are more health conscious. Apart from aloe vera, Forest Colour cosmetics also contain collagen that we believe is highly sought after by women nowadays.
“They are more keen on healthier products that will help them look younger and that is where product differentiation comes into play because there are not many collagen-based cosmetics in the Malaysian market,” he said, stressing that SADC did not want to push Forest Colour products into the market without making them stand out.
Ahmad Rizal said Forest Colour products, which are priced between RM45 and RM95, are expected to appeal to a broad range of consumers.
“We are aware of our products’ benefits and although it is locally made, we didn’t want to price them cheaply because people tend to think cheap products means no quality.
“As a state agency, we wanted to create a more competitive market for everybody while also being careful not to disrupt the market by lowering the prices,” he said.
Although Forest Colour was only launched in Kuala Lumpur, Ahmad Rizal revealed that Ipoh is their next destination.
Consumers in Ipoh can look forward to familiarising themselves with Forest Colour products by attending beauty classes in their flagship store in Casuarina@Meru Hotel come November and December.
“We plan to work with beauticians in Ipoh to promote Forest Colour during these beauty classes.
“Not only can they teach attendees the correct ways of applying makeup, but they can also demonstrate how our products work well on different kinds of skin,” he said.
Forest Colour may still be taking baby steps in penetrating the Malaysian market, but Ahmad Rizal is determined to forge ahead with plans for it to emerge as one of the top five cosmetic brands in the country over the next five years.
“Once we have established our brand here, we are looking to expand beyond the local market and take it to the international level,” he said.