From Azores to Asia: Portuguese beauty brand Ignae eyeing region’s booming luxury niche beauty market
The Portugese skin care company traces its roots back to 2009. It was founded by Miguel Pombo, who was previously working in the cosmetics industry dealing with regulation. Pombo, an Azores native, developed his range of skin care products inspired by the unique biodiversity of the archipelago.
The Azores are a collection of nine volcanic islands. With a subtropical climate and rich fertile soil, it is home to a unique assortment of flora, including Europe’s only tea plantations and rainforests.
“The first time I went to Azores, I was immediately struck – it’s like a paradise. Not only is it beautiful, but it has an amazing biological ecosystem. It has thermal water, tea plantations and rainforests. It’s really incredible,” said Claire Chung, CEO of Ignae.
The brand utilises a range of ingredients sourced from the Azores, including Japanese camillia, Japanese cedar, and phycocyanin extracted from spirulina.
Powering Ignae is the brand’s patent-pending EPC Factor Complex, which delivers the potent ingredients into the deeper layers of the skin.
“With this technology, we're able to deliver them to the basal layer of the skin where they're most effective. Being able to use all the potential from these natural extracts in the high efficacy cosmetic products, this was the major breakthrough,” Pombo told CosmeticDesign-Asia.
Utilising biotechnology enhances the efficacy of the active ingredients and also enables the company to develop its products with minimal impact on the ecosystem.
“Using this technology not only brings more efficacy in the products but also sustainability. It's something that's really important to us because this is something that we're going to take globally, and we can't be sucking up the resources of this rare paradise,” said Chung.
Chung, who spearheaded the launch of Net-A-Porter in China, joined the company in 2020 and immediately recognised the global potential for Ignae, especially in Asia.
“After living in China for so many years, you become really sensitive to ingredients. It’s really about the Azores; the plants and water are very mineral-rich. On top of having this amazing efficacy, there’s a real authentic story. Also, these products work really well on Asian skin, which is very critical.”
The company first concentrated on establishing itself in the Western market but has no doubts that Asia is a “key market”.
Today, Ignae is available online in Hong Kong where it has a local partner. This year, one of the markets it will focus on is China.
“China is exciting because it's such a huge market and the consumers are really hungry for newness, and they're also hungry for authentic stories and things associated with nature – just like the Korean island, Jeju, but Azores is a million times better,” said Chung.
It is currently available on multi-brand luxury e-retailer Ssence, which Chung said has a strong following among China’s millennial consumers.
Chung said the company’s goal is to establish a cross-border online channel by next year. At the same time, it is looking for a strategic partner or distributor in China.
In addition, the company also has its eye on the wider Asia region, including markets like Japan, Korea, and Singapore.