Mr Baumann, RAUSCH AG KREUZLINGEN is celebrating its 125th anniversary this year. How has your company managed to hold its own for so many years against major competition?
For the past 125 years, the existence of the company has depended on the secret of the power of Swiss herbs. It was no coincidence that Josef Wilhelm Rausch from Konstanz, who was a master hairdresser when he founded the company in 1890, became a supplier to the Sigmaring court of Leopold and Antonia von Hohenzollern and other nobles, the celebrities of their day. J.W. Rausch is now recognised as the inventor of the first liquid shampoo. Based on the in-depth knowledge of healing herbs possessed by monks, which he gathered from books in monastery libraries, he conducted his own detailed research and development activities. His skill was in using the right amount of the right herbs in the right combination to ensure not only a healthy scalp but also beautiful, naturally shiny hair. This is still our company’s philosophy, and some of the recipes have remained almost unchanged over 125 years. We’re all very proud of this and our love of Swiss herbs informs everything we do.
What would you say is the unique selling point for RAUSCH products? What makes RAUSCH shampoo stand out from the many others on the market?
As a Swiss manufacturer of herbal skincare and haircare specialities, RAUSCH is clearly a niche player in a body and haircare market that is primarily driven by mass-market products. They aren’t called ‘fast-moving consumer goods’ for nothing. We don’t want to be grouped together with the mass of ‘fast’ products that outdo each other with their unbelievable claims. RAUSCH shampoos contain up to 40% herb extracts which are produced and specifically employed using our own time-consuming, gentle and natural processes. Our Swiss contract farmers grow our plants and herbs with great care to controlled standards. They process, mature and manufacture them to guarantee the unique effectiveness of RAUSCH products. They are unique and unmistakeable. Our products ensure that our promises are kept! But it takes time, care and skill to develop and ensure such high-quality products. We’re also one of the few players on the market who procure raw materials locally, and develop and manufacture our own products. The key to our success is credibility and closeness to our customers. Anyone who’s tried RAUSCH products knows what we mean when we say they’re top quality and highly effective.
So RAUSCH is clearly differentiated from mass market products due to the high proportion of natural ingredients, yet your products aren’t certified as natural cosmetics. Don’t you think that would be a good idea?
RAUSCH doesn’t produce certified natural cosmetics because we as a company have made a conscious, well thought-through choice. Our core competency is haircare, and our many years of experience and success in scalp treatment have showed us that our products – with the maximum amount of natural ingredients and minimum amount of additives – are just what the hair and scalp need long-term to stay healthy and beautiful. Our shampoos are a really good example here. As I said, pure natural herb extracts comprise up to 40% of any product. We also use 26 premium quality oils. Our surfactants, for example, are all natural in origin, although they are (subsequently) chemically processed. This processing means they are ineligible as ingredients for certified natural cosmetics. But without it they would lose their strong, yet mild and skin-friendly cleaning power. And this is essential for the thorough removal of grease and residues from hair and scalp. Otherwise the herb extracts and oils in our wonderful bottled conditioners, haircare treatments and spray conditioners wouldn’t have the chance to take full effect. After all, you wouldn’t apply moisturiser without washing your skin beforehand, would you? Even with certified natural cosmetics, there is still a question mark in terms of allergens and dermatology, especially in haircare. So our motto is: as much nature as possible, and as few (synthetic) additives as necessary. Both our new and existing customers are satisfied and convinced of the effectiveness of our products and confirm that we’re on the right track.
You procure your raw materials largely within Switzerland, manufacture your products in Kreuzlingen and distribute them from there. Won’t you be forced to relocate parts of your business abroad in future? I’m sure issues like climate change, changes in the euro and increasing competition affect you too?
We buy all main ingredients and most of our herbs in Switzerland. We only source raw materials abroad where we have no other option – this applies for example in the case of coconut oil and tropical phytochemicals. We are one of only a few consumer goods manufacturers to maintain our entire supply chain in Switzerland. As a family company, we have a very strong personal interest in this and it will stay that way in future. Our key corporate values are nature, customer trust, credibility and authenticity.
Up to now your distribution in your core markets has been very selective. Is there further distribution potential you have yet to exploit? There are still a few traditional trade resellers who don’t stock RAUSCH products.
That’s true, we choose our sales partners very carefully. Our partners’ basic stance and corporate philosophy must be as close as possible to our own values. It's also important that our partners are able to provide advice. RAUSCH wants to grow slowly and sustainably. We are pleasantly surprised how much and how regularly the quality of our products resonates with both new and regular customers. We are therefore confident that there is still plenty of potential for RAUSCH, especially in Germany.
What sort of image or philosophy does RAUSCH want to portray?
We are THE herbal haircare specialist from Switzerland. We are unique and unmistakeable. The focus is on the individual and their needs. No matter whether they have normal hair, thin hair, dandruff or allergies, each and every customer should be able to find a reliable, top-quality RAUSCH product that suits them and their body, a product that does them good. The aim is to ensure customer satisfaction and maintain the health of skin and scalp over the long term.
The secret is, has been and will remain – for at least another 125 years – in the elemental power of Swiss herbs. After all, we discovered the “power of Swiss herbs”!