Made in Romania: then and now

Newsroom 26/02/2014 | 13:00

The “Made in Romania” label represents the national fight against globalization, using its own weapons, says author Simon Anholt in his book Brand New Justice: The Upside of Global Branding. BR puts the spotlight on some of the iconic Romanian brands that are proudly promoted worldwide, with four stories whose “once upon a time” started in the Communist period.

Oana Vasiliu

Farmec cosmetics

The Farmec story starts in 1889, when the first cosmetics laboratory opened in Hungary, in the capital of Budapest. Some 54 years later another laboratory was established in Cluj-Napoca, transforming Farmec into the largest local manufacturer of cosmetics in Romania and one of the most enduring and powerful nationwide. “Gerovital was the first anti-aging product in the world, and has become one of the most recognized brands at national and international level. It remains brand leader in the skincare segment. Also, Doina is one of the most popular and loved Romanian brands, the longest-running Farmec brand. It has retained its original recipe for almost 50 years, and the success of the product is due to the trust that it has earned from the consumer, a very good price-quality ratio and its versatility of usage – cleansing, hydration and enrichment with vitamins and protection” commented Ioana Borza, marketing manager at Farmec.

In 2013 Farmec had a turnover of RON 138 million, 14 percent higher than in 2012, when it reported RON 121 million. The company also brought new products on the market last year, the Farmec Natural brand and a new product line called Gerovital H3 Prof. Dr. Ana Aslan , as a result of research and development at the company’s laboratories. Cleansing products Nufarul and Triumf also both have new formula and packaging.

The company’s products can be bought in over 30 countries, of which the main markets are Japan, Hungary, Poland, Moldova, Iraq, Kuwait, Greece and Canada.

Dero washing powder

Dero entered the lives of Romanian housewives in 1966, a product of the washing powder factory in Ploiesti, Prahova, its name an abbreviation of Romania’s Detergents. Over the years, the brand has become synonymous with the product, and today Romanians still use the brand name when referring, generically, to any detergent. In 1995, the Dero brand was acquired by Unilever, since when it has undergone a series of innovations. In 1998, Dero was the first brand in the economy segment to launch an automatic washing powder version, and two years later it became the first brand in Romania to launch a “2in1” product (detergent and softener). “Currently, Dero is the brand leader for volume in the washing powder category. Moreover, it is a brand that knew how to reinvent itself and to evolve with the times, and testimony to this is the brand’s 25- to 35-year-old consumers, who are representative of our client profile,” said Iulia Floricica, senior brand building manager for laundry & conditioners at Unilever.

Dacia car

1966 was also the year when Romania decided to acquire a license for car manufacturing, and Renault was the winning brand, bringing Romanians their first Dacia, the 1100 model. According to the chapter on Dacia in Visual Brands, a book by Rene Luchinger, Dacia had six major facelifts between 1966 to 2005, when a 100 percent Romanian concept was developed, Dacia Nova. In terms of rebranding, 2008 was the latest year of major improvements, when the Sandero model and the new logo were launched.

“We believe that the local customer takes pride in using a product manufactured in Romania. This explains the fact that Romania is the country where Dacia has held the largest share of the world market in 2013: 31.6 percent of new vehicle sales in Romania were Dacia models,” Dacia officials told Business Review.

In 2013, local sales rose by 12.4 percent to 24,890 units, on a market that posted the poorest performance since 2000. The best sold model was the Dacia Logan Sedan, followed by the supermini model Sandero and the Duster SUV. The carmaker said its local sales had risen in volume for the first time since 2007 and its market share climbed to 31 percent, the biggest globally. In 2013, the top 10 foreign markets on which Dacia posted growth were: France, Germany, Algeria, Turkey, Spain, Morocco, Italy, Belgium, the UK and Poland.

Pegas bicycles

The story of Pegas bicycles dates back to 1972, when the first Pegas for adults was manufactured. Almost 40 years later, the brand is getting a facelift thanks to Andrei Botescu and his team, who have managed to recreate the prototype of the Romanian bike, starting from registering the brand at the State Office for Inventions and Trademarks (OSIM), as the patent had expired. “When I decided to take over the brand, I knew that I could implement everything I had learned in college in Pegas. We are talking about a national symbol, an eco-trend industry in full growth, the need for identity, the strength of childhood memories and especially the challenge of taking over a brand and a story at a time when we had all fallen into a national depression brought about by the global recession,” said Botescu, owner of Pegas.

In the firm’s first year on the market, it invented a Facebook application for bike reservations as demand was much higher than its sales expectations. In 2012, it sold 500 Pegas bikes, the number doubled in 2013, and the company is hoping to increase it by half again in 2014. The average price of a bike is RON 1,200, competitive for specialized bike stores, but high in comparison with hypermarket prices. When it comes to expansion, Botescu wants to develop a national distribution, but also to “attack” other international markets, and plans to use a guerilla marketing strategy to present its bikes at the biggest European bike fair, Eurobike.

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