RELIFE:
from concept to creation

Q&A with Cristina Cavalli, RELIFE’s head of regulatory and quality assurance Affairs, Menarini Group, Italy

Q&A with Cristina Cavalli, RELIFE’s head of regulatory and quality assurance Affairs, Menarini Group, Italy

RELIFE:
from concept to creation

Q&A with Cristina Cavalli, RELIFE’s head of regulatory and quality assurance Affairs, Menarini Group, Italy


Q Cristina, you and your team completed the RELIFE concept in 2016. What was the inspiration behind the new RELIFE brand and why now?
A In 2016, the Menarini Group completely acquired the RELIFE company, which meant full integration of the RELIFE brand identity into the Menarini portfolio. The RELIFE company was originally a stand-alone, independent company but now it is 100 per cent a Menarini brand and we officially launched at the end of 2017 in Italy and in 2019 in Ireland. The concept was to create a high-quality, premium skincare brand that was affordable and accessible to the every-day consumer, targeting the management of particular skin conditions. We wanted to focus on skincare, so we combined science, natural harmony and health together in one brand using a conscious, innovative approach.

Q What experts are involved in the scientific development and production of the brand?
A We are fortunate that we have experts across both the RELIFE company and now the Menarini Group so there is a real amalgamation of knowledge and expertise behind the brand. We have scientific and marketing experts in dermatology and aesthetic medicine; we have teams who are qualified and trained in relevant regulatory legislation around medical devices and cosmetics; and we also have experienced teams working in the manufacturing and production side of the company. What is unique about RELIFE is the 100 per cent involvement from concept to creation and all the different stages and processes along the way. At the Menarini Group, we bring RELIFE through the journey from beginning to end and we have expert teams working on the product ranges throughout. Our teams are involved in the complete lifecycle of the RELIFE products.

Members of RELIFE’s Italian team: Dr Martina Manni, global medical adviser; Mel Warren, global senior product manager; and Cristina Cavalli at the official Irish launch of the RELIFE brand.

Members of RELIFE’s Italian team: Dr Martina Manni, global medical adviser; Mel Warren, global senior product manager; and Cristina Cavalli at the official Irish launch of the RELIFE brand.

Q How did you and your team choose which skin conditions to target?
A We conducted extensive research in order to identify key skin conditions, which affect consumers. Atopic dermatitis, acne, psoriasis, hyperpigmentation are just some of the conditions that we researched. This research came from the marketing teams; speaking with opinion industry leaders; liaising closely with the Italian Society of Dermatology; and working with healthcare professionals (HCPs) across primary and secondary care and learning about common patient skin health and skincare needs. We have a group of about 15 leading health opinion leaders, who specialise in dermatology, on hand for us to meet and discuss our ideas and strategies around what type of skin conditions the RELIFE product ranges should target. 

Our team of opinion leaders come from Russia, the US, Asia and Europe, so we have the top global dermatological experts involved with the development of the RELIFE brand.

Q Since launching RELIFE, what interaction and feedback are you getting from healthcare professionals in reaction to the brand?
A Interestingly, because we have all the knowledge and expertise within the Menarini Group, we have the advantage of being able to answer any questions from pharmacists, physicians or consumers at a faster pace. I think our hands-on approach from the development of the product to the marketing activities means we can provide support and answer feedback promptly. Being part of a global, well-known pharma group with the excellent reputation that the Menarini Group has means healthcare professionals are enthusiastic about the brand. The feedback has been impressive and the types of innovative techniques and ideas we are using in the development of the brand are being well-received. From start to finish, we are interacting with the HCPs before product goes on shelf and we are continuously maintaining and building on existing relationships with them. 

Q What do you want the RELIFE brand to achieve in the near future?
A We are aiming to be present in all the countries that the Menarini Group has offices in. We are currently registering the product in these countries and our aim is to also expand our RELIFE product portfolio to these locations so RELIFE can be accessible worldwide.

In 2020, we are planning a number of product launches, not just in the dermatology sphere, but also in the aesthetic medicine industry. We are currently in the registration process in several countries, a lot of hard work – blood, sweat and tears – goes into making this happen but it is exciting and we are hoping to have eight more skincare products registered in the next six months. 

Q Is it important to you to show that women in science can invent/create successful concepts like RELIFE? 
A Yes, it is so important. RELIFE is really my baby and on my direct team, two of my colleagues are female and one is male, and together it is our brainchild. We have about 70 per cent women on our team and 30 per cent men. In my opinion, in this particular field, it is easier for women to express their passion, feeling and enthusiasm for the skincare brand. 

Saying that women are more empathetic  sounds like a cliché. It would be like stating that men are more determined. Although we are talking about characteristics that we generally would define as ‘female’, since this is RELIFE speaking, we would take a more balanced approach changing the angle towards diversity, the importance of having a mixed workforce and the benefits that could derive from this. 

Q Do you feel a sense of achievement that the RELIFE journey is really taking off?
A At the beginning of the RELIFE journey, if I am honest, I was uncertain of how this new brand would take off and how everything would be received. I was always confident in the brand, its integrity and what it stood for, but you never know how a new brand, especially in the dermocosmetic space, will perform and engage with the target audience. We are heavily regulated so it is important that all of the healthcare communities that we work with are compliant and for all of our stakeholders to feel supported with transparent, open communication about our plans for RELIFE.

Now, of course, I am grateful for the opportunity we have in bringing this brand to market and I feel that, in 2020, when we increase our portfolio and expand the brand around the world, we will have more experience in how the brand is received and how we should tailor the different ranges to the relevant marketplaces. We have already gone above and beyond what I thought we would achieve by now, so the future is looking very positive.

Q What is your vision for RELIFE in the near future?
A It is such a competitive skincare market, so, in order to continue to be successful, it is important that we have competent experts in all the relevant fields in-house, that have a comprehensive, exclusive knowledge of the RELIFE brand. I would like to see us building on this team of experts and I would also like us to move into the US market in the next five years.