Private equity firm Gryphon Investors has acquired the Roc skin-care brand from Johnson & Johnson Consumer.
The brand, founded in 1957, makes about 75 antiaging skin-care products priced between $20 and $30. Roc is sold through Target Corp., Walmart Inc., Walgreens Co., CVS, Ulta Beauty, Costco and Amazon Inc., and is available in the U.S., Europe and Latin America.
Gryphon’s plan for the brand includes building out the line beyond retinol and antiaging products, according to Michelle Taylor, operating partner at Gryphon, who will serve as an adviser to Roc going forward. The brand will also work to strengthen ties in the dermatology sector and ramp up launches and marketing broadly, targeting the company’s core 40-plus customer as well as Millennials. Steve LaMonte, an executive adviser at Gryphon, will also be a brand adviser.
“Run as an independent company, we can really give this precious, iconic brand the TLC that it deserves,” Taylor said.
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“The divestiture of RoC is consistent with our Global Consumer Products portfolio strategy and reflects a disciplined approach to managing global brand mix and supporting growth brands in core categories and need states,” a Johnson & Johnson spokeswoman said.
Gryphon’s plan will include modernizing its positioning across markets, Taylor noted.
“We can start with the positioning, the communication — updating those to be a little bit more relevant and have more of an emotional connection to American consumers,” Taylor said. “A lot of times French brands are brought to the United States and the communication stays very French. Times have changed, and sensitivities have changed and ways of communicating antiaging benefits have changed.”
Roc will also enter new ingredient territories under new ownership, she said, “going beyond retinol within antiaging, and then going beyond antiaging.”
“All of us use other skin-care product categories daily, why shouldn’t Roc play in those?” Taylor said. Right now, for example, Roc doesn’t offer cleansers in the U.S.
“There are cleansers in other markets,” Taylor said. “If you look at the worldwide portfolio, it’s different in different parts of the world. We have opportunities in cleanser, we have opportunities in moisturizers.”
Under Gryphon, Roc will be going back to its French pharmacy roots, too, she noted.
The brand is known mostly for its deodorant and sunscreen in Europe, Taylor said, not its antiaging line. “We have some work to do in [terms of] communications and deepening the relationships with our pharmacy distribution there,” Taylor said. “That part of the world will be [key to] rebuilding the dominance the brand had many years ago. For Europe, that message will likely be through new product introduction.”
Roc has white space in Asia, and products will likely be brought to the region over the next 18 months, Taylor said.
The brand will also invest in the U.S. market. “Our market share has held steady with maybe a more conservative investment on the part of Johnson & Johnson so our intention in the U.S. is to increase the investment behind the brand and really grow that awareness,” Taylor said. “We have pretty significant data on strong conversion from awareness to product trial, so increasing awareness is going to be important.”
The brand will also increase focus on Millennial consumers. With them, “it’s not all about hard-hitting antiaging,” Taylor said. “There’s been an evolution more to talking about healthy, luminous skin and less about the negativity of aging and more about the positive benefits that the formula might bring.”
Gryphon will be building out a Roc team to be based out of New York, Taylor said, noting that the people at Johnson & Johnson who worked on Roc are not staying with the brand.
This is Gryphon’s second beauty investment. In 2018, Gryphon bought masstige cosmetics brand Milani, and has grown the team there with the additions of Grace Ray as chief executive officer and Evelyn Wang as chief marketing officer.
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