dead sea

More than skin deep

As a local cosmetic producer of skincare products based on Dead Sea minerals and plant extracts, Rivage has grown quickly since its inception two decades ago and now competes on an international platform.

By Nada Atieh

Rivage was brought to life in the mid 1990s, when Jordanian businessman Adel al Qasem spotted that Israeli companies had a virtual monopoly on sales of Dead Sea skincare products around the world. Back then al Qasem decided to establish a company that harnesses the natural ingredients found in the Dead Sea to create a global Dead Sea skincare line based in Jordan.

The Dead Sea contains 21 minerals, 12 of which don’t exist anywhere else in the world, and their benefits are countless. Studies have demonstrated again and again how Dead Sea salts are proven to relieve acne, eczema and psoriasis. Minerals like magnesium, sodium and potassium enhance the skin’s ability to retain moisture and are used to treat aging skin and cellulite. In hair care, Dead Sea mud nourishes the scalp and promotes healthy hair growth. Users often comment on the dwindling hair breakage and fallout after using Dead Sea mud.

After realizing the desirability of this natural resource, Israeli companies made headway in markets around the world with little to no competition thanks to the support of their government and a wide business network around the world.

With equal access to the Dead Sea, and realizing the huge gap that existed between the Israeli and Jordanian markets in terms of producing and distributing Dead Sea products, al Qasem broke into the market with Rivage in 1996 with no competition from Jordanian brands. His goal was to establish Rivage as an international brand with  roots in the Kingdom. To date, the company is headquartered in Amman, where the formulas are reviewed and tweaked for privacy purposes after being developed in labs abroad.

He established offices around the world to see his vision through as well. PAL, or Paris-Amman-London, is a company that supervises Rivage’s manufacturing and marketing department in London. Another office is located in Paris and focuses on formulating skincare supplies. Rivage is also opening one more office in Dubai to focus on online marketing and advertising, a non-negotiable aspect of business growth internationally, especially when targeting millennials.

Today, Rivage employs 90 people in Jordan and another 50 people throughout the world in labs and offices. It has succeeded at building a stable market in more than 23 countries including the United States, Canada, Russia, Italy, and Cyprus. But the company’s most popular market is in China, where Dead Sea masks are the most popular of the company’s products. In the Middle East, Rivage sells its products in Saudi Arabia and Jordan.

Live Market

Rivage began its sales by developing a few basic products: soap, Dead Sea mud, and salt. Today, the company has diversified their line and sells more than 100 products; they produce hair and scalp treatments to cleanse, condition and repair hair, face care products to hydrate, exfoliate, and protect the skin, and body care products to hydrate, exfoliate and sooth the skin as well. The products are environmentally and animal friendly and the best-selling products in general are the facial mud masks, anti-aging cream, moisturizers, and black mud soap.

Up until recently, the company had been targeting and selling to women aged 30 and above. But as part of its new rebranding strategy, Rivage is diversifying its target demographic. Over the next five years, Sa’ed al Qasem, the son of the company’s founder and now its business development manager, and his team will be creating new products to sell and advertise and new content to share online to reach a wider range of men and women.

The skincare brand will be targeting a younger crowd, men and women who are in their mid twenties, as well as launching a line of personal care products for men in the near future. “As the young age, they should be hydrating their skin. We want to focus on different items to attract them online and offline, internationally,” he said.

The business development manager believes with a more creative branding strategy, Rivage can compete with long-established Israeli companies that managed to reach international markets because of their network, but don’t necessarily produce better, or higher quality products.

“Israeli brands are most widely sold in America and eastern Europe. There’s plenty of opportunity in the Middle East, where they can’t sell, Europe, and the United States,” he said.

Also as a part of its rebranding efforts, the company hopes to popularize the products in the Jordanian market by reiterating the benefits that Dead Sea minerals have on the skin. Each product is infused with minerals and botanicals that are “as old as time,” and clinically proven to renew, detoxify and nourish the skin, he said.

Research and development is the base of the company’s success and the foundation of the products’ unique formulation. All ingredients, save for Dead Sea minerals, come from Europe and prices range from JD3.5 to JD45 locally, and are generally 20 percent higher internationally.

Al Qasem believes although competition is rife, Rivage has the capability to compete on a global level following their rebranding initiative. The high quality of the company’s products is obvious, he said, and with a new advertising campaign to reach a wider base of people through online marketing and reviews by social media gurus, he believes Rivage has the capability to become a household name in skincare.

“We found a gap, which is quality. Other companies don’t focus on the quality of the ingredients they use. Our ingredients matter. Everything we do is natural. Everything we do focuses on ancient remedies and ancient ingredients, from olive oil to mud masks. Quality comes first in everything we do,” he said.