An innovator in oral care products, SPLAT enjoys 17 per cent market share in its home country of Russia and today exports to 60 countries worldwide. It has offices in Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Turkey, China and the UK, and Commercial Director Igor Klimkin says that expansion into international markets is still very much on the agenda.
“In the next four years, we are looking to achieve twofold growth, developing both the current markets and new markets for our company,” he says. “Based on our previous expansion into other countries, I have to say that it’s very important to understand the consumer.
Product and the message
The product is important, but equally important is the message. Consumers in every country differ; their interests differ. Because the consumer is interested in the message just as much as in high-quality products, the marketing component is as important as the product itself. So, as well as producing the best-quality products, we also put effort into the clear definition of our message to consumers in each country.”
Igor says that the key challenge over the next 18 months will be finding the right people to fuel this growth. “A foray into new markets involves the creation of a dedicated team of people who will be responsible for market development in specific countries. And it’s not enough for them to be good professionals who understand the product, know the market, et cetera. It’s important that these people share the values, ethics and principles of the company.
“I’m not just talking about the managers who will be hired to work within the company, but also about company partners. Because, in many cases, the partner represents you in the given country. So, the choice of partners is no less important than the choice of people to work for the company. The main challenge is to find the right people, both employees and partners for the company. And the second challenge is marketing.”
Igor goes on to clarify that when he talks about marketing, he’s referring to a long-term policy to win customer loyalty. “It’s not enough to have good relationships with distributors or retail chains. It’s not enough to just get shelf space for your product – we have seen cases when companies got shelf space for their product, and it all started well, but ended with nothing. If you do not build the right connections with the customer, and you’re not communicating the right message to the customer, then your foray into new markets won’t last long.”
It seems odd, then, to hear that SPLAT doesn’t advertise, either at home or abroad. “We don’t do any TV or indeed any mass media advertising,” Igor reveals. “Our consumer relations are built on a totally different principle and we communicate through different channels. In today’s world, digital marketing and communications are very important, so we place a strong emphasis on social media marketing as a way to express our key messages.
“We are involved in public relations, but by that we do not mean direct advertising. We believe our PR should be aimed to educate our consumers and provide them information about new products and their advantages, and the key products of our company, but not to impose them.”
We believe [!being!] is very important to create a better world with better people.
Igor says that SPLAT also works closely with the professional dental hygiene community, because he believes that if professionals have faith in the products
then they will recommend them to their patients. “By working with the professional community I do not mean going door to door, from one dentist to another, with little presents,” Igor explains. “We participate in professional exhibitions, in professional symposia, and we also work very closely with dental medical schools, providing specialists with knowledge and information about our products.”
Part of the secret: packaging
He says that SPLAT also places great importance on its packaging as a way to connect with the consumer. “We believe that the information the consumer receives at the point of purchase is very important. The consumer has to see the product as efficient, professionally done, professionally packed, professionally presented.”
Igor is justifiably proud of the quality and efficiency of SPLAT’s products, pointing out that the value is far higher than the price point. This factor has contributed considerably to the brand’s strong international growth. He’s also proud of the company’s social responsibility policies. For more than eight years, it has maintained a CO2-neutral program of production, and together with its partners each year SPLAT plants several hectares of forest around the world. In fact, in recent years it has planted a total of 86,935 trees covering more than 45 hectares of forest.
“Not all companies are like us and concerned with additional environmental standards. We have voluntarily created targets for our company to meet environmentally friendly standards in manufacturing, because we believe that it is very important to create a better world with better people. That might sound a little idealistic, but we really believe that our company does its fair share to create a better world and make people better.”