“Rohto has a social responsibility to address problems in terms of health and beauty”

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Started as Anmin Pharmacy in 1899 in Osaka with the launch of gastrointestinal medicine Ikatsu, Rohto Pharmaceutical is a Japanese multinational FMCG and over-the-counter (OTC) drugs manufacturer. The company has been offering a range of products including non-prescription medicines (OTCs), beauty products, and health supplements to its customers. Rohto is the manufacturer of V.Rohto eye drops popularly known as the “eye perfume” in the global market. Operating in 150 countries, the company is expanding to other new markets. Rohto entered the Nepali market in 2014, and has since been increasing its presence here. Shunsuke Shinoda, Market Development Director of Rohto-Mentholatum (Vietnam), the Vietnamese arm of Rohto Pharmaceuticals, was in Nepal on company business. New Business Age caught up with Shinoda to talk about the company’s performance in Nepal and expansion plans. Excerpts:

Tell us about Rohto.
Rohto has been manufacturing health care products for 117 years. We are the second biggest health care company in Japan. We have eye care, skin care, cosmetics, oral medicines and also other FMCG goods. We are the number one OTC (over-the-counter) eye care manufacturer in the world. We are present in around 150 countries. In Nepal, we are a new brand that sees a lot of opportunities in the OTC medicine and FMCG market. 

Rhoto launched its V. Rohto eye drop in the Nepali market a few months ago. How has customer response been like?
The product is being well received by our Nepali customers. Air pollution is increasing and UV rays are affecting the eyes of the people in Nepal and other Asian countries. So it has become very important to take care of the eyes and avoid infections and diseases. The V. Rohto eye drop has become an essential item to prevent eyes from getting infected. We have some unique eye care products to use on a daily basis.  

How are other Rohto products performing in the market here? 
We have 40 products under nine brands in the Nepali market. Our Acne product is doing well here also. Acne is one dedicative pimple prevention and treatment cosmetic cream. Similar to cleansers and treatment gels, it is used for the long term removal of pimples. Since Nepal has a large youth population, many here are facing problems of pimples and acnes. Our skin treatment products are perfect for them. We also have men’s facial cleansers Oxy, Sunplay sunscreen and Lipice lip balm along with other products. 

What do you make of the Nepali pharmaceuticals market?
The skin type and environment of one country differs from another country. So it is very important to understand the local market, adopt appropriate strategies and produce and supply products according to the demand and needs of the consumers. We started our business here in 2014. We are focused in making our products result oriented for Nepali customers. 

How are products from Rohto different from other manufacturers?
Being a Japanese company, our products are high in quality. We prioritise on localisation rather than globalisation. Many multinational consumer care products manufacturers produce the same kind of products for customers across the globe. However, we first understand the customers and relate our products to match their needs. Since it has been just two years since we started our business here, we intend to develop some specific products for the Nepali market in the future.

What are your plans for expansion here? What specific marketing and promotion techniques are you employing?
We are becoming a total health care company producing OTC medicines, cosmetics and FMCG products. We are expanding our company in rejuvenating medicines, advanced medications and also in agriculture. In Nepal, we can contribute a lot of things. We aim to maintain a strong foothold here to meet the demands and needs of our Nepali customers to address their problems.  We have the social responsibility to address problems in terms of health and beauty. 

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