Euromonitor International is pleased to present an interview with Dr Petyaev, the inventor of Esthechoc, and Mr William George, the Chief Operating Officer at Cambridge Chocolate Technologies Ltd, a UK-based company specialising in the development of hi-tech functional chocolate. The product, Esthechoc, takes the form of an indulgent functional food aimed at protecting the skin against premature ageing caused by external elements such as sun damage and air pollution. This interview explores the science and innovation behind the new product and its functionality, as well as its potential relevance to skin-conscious consumers and how it stands out in a fierce competitive landscape, especially within skin care.
How did the new product idea come about? What does it involve?
The medicinal effects of chocolate have been known for hundreds of years, with cocoa most often consumed as a drink with the aim of treating a variety of disorders. In addition, the power of antioxidants and high carotenoids has also been well documented and the focus of work by the scientists behind Esthechoc for over 10 years. During our research into a range of functional foods it became clear that chocolate, when combined with our patented technology, has a range of benefits throughout the body. When combined with astaxanthin, the active in Esthechoc, there is a super-additive effect from the polyphenols in the cocoa and the antioxidant so that they become 10-times more powerful than when ingested alone. The effect on the skin was measurable and through a combination of actions was seen to halt the natural ageing processes, thereby maintaining skin health at an optimal level. A chocolate that can protect you skin from anti-ageing seems too good to be true but we have made it a reality!
Briefly, can you discuss the product specifics and the science behind it?
Esthechoc is 72% dark chocolate incorporating proprietary astacelle crystal technology to improve skin microcirculation, support oxygen saturation and enhance skin detoxification and nutrition. Esthechoc uses the natural power of cocoa polyphenols with one of the strongest antioxidants, astaxanthin, to boost bioavailability and efficacy, thereby becoming effective on your skin when taken even in small quantities. One small Esthechoc a day (just 7.5g) is enough to protect your skin health. By contrast, to get the same effect from normal dark chocolate you would have to eat in the region of 100g per day, a practice that over a short time could put your health at risk.
How does the product stand out in an increasingly competitive nutricosmetics market?
There is no other skin health chocolate on the market. In fact, it is likely that Esthechoc is the most enjoyable way to protect your skin. It tastes great, unlike some nutricosmetics, and has actually been proven to work in scientific trials. In the course of development hundreds of people consumed the “smart chocolate”, with the results publicly available. The biggest challenge is convincing consumers it really is as good as it sounds – there is a tendency to think it is too good to be true. This is the problem with truly innovative products but through education and consumers sharing their experiences the message will get out there.
Do you see a new trend emerging in nutricosmetics where more players are shifting from supplements to food and beverages in terms of product format?
Yes, we have seen many products come to market recently, with various degrees of success. This trend is the consequence of changes in consumer behaviour and lifestyle – products need to adapt to consumers’ everyday habits and enable daily supplementation to be easier and more pleasurable. What could be more pleasant and easier to remember each day than a tasty chocolate bar!?
Do you think it can compete with hi-tech topical skin care brands?
Esthechoc is not intended to be disruptive technology – it is complementary to all existing skin care products. We see Esthechoc as a part of customers' existing skin care regimes. There is a difficulty in finding shelf space for a food alongside traditional skin care products, but we see perspectives changing already. The awards for Best Skin Care Product as well as the Grand Prize at Beyond Beauty Paris demonstrate that the industry understands the product and are welcoming of it.
Who are your target customers? Why would they choose this product over rival ones?
Our target customers are anyone who currently cares about their skin health. This has traditionally been women, but men are taking increasing care of all aspects of their health and appearance. We expect that ladies over 40 will be most excited by the product, but people of any age can benefit from Esthechoc, either as a preventative measure or to help restore skin health.
The brand sells at Harrods in London and presumably other upmarket department stores. Do you believe selling at channels such as pharmacies can boost its image?
Esthechoc is a premium product that we intend to see alongside luxury skin care brands. In addition, it is a product that needs some degree of explanation, so for both these reasons pharmacies are a perfect location. We also expect to see Esthechoc in skin clinics, wellness retreats and spas, beauty clinics and further upmarket department stores. Wherever the chocolate can be placed with traditional skin care products and there are experts able to explain the product, that is where we would like to be.