Gessy is back after more than 15 years of activity. The traditional bar soap brand, which turns 113 in 2023, returned to supermarket and drugstore shelves in April. “The first batch of 5 million soft perfume soaps sold out immediately, we are already in the market for a second larger batch and a third in negotiations with retailers,” said Clariq managing partner Samuel Tocalino.
He is the great-grandson of the founders of Gessy, Italian immigrants, shoemaker Giuseppe Milani and chemist Ettore Manarini. Together they started soap production in Valinhos (SP), which became José Milani & Cia. Starting in 1930, the Gessy brand began to give the company its name.
Tocalino and two brothers opened Clariq to revive the family-owned brand. The goal is to have a big long-term project. “We want to return Gessi to the pantheon of Brazilian business,” he says.
Previously, the brand became the leader in personal hygiene, with almost 80% of the soap market in the country. It also became the largest Brazilian advertiser on radio and television. In the early 1960s, the company was sold by descendants of the founding families to consumer goods multinational Unilever, and the Gessy brand went with it. “My great-grandfather said that it was the biggest private deal in the history of Brazil at that time, which was closed at the headquarters of Citibank in New York (USA).
A chemical engineer influenced by his great-grandfather, Tocalino, 52, graduated from college and went overseas to work in the oil industry. But the Gessy brand never left his and his brothers’ heads.
Returning to the country, determined to undertake, he looked for information on the status of the Gessy trademark at the National Institute of Industrial Property (INPI) and found that it was not in use. Through the administrative process opened at INPI, the brand returned to the family two and a half years ago without restrictions.
According to the Industrial Property Law (9279/1996), a trademark must be used for up to five years after registration. After this period, the name must be used without interruption. If it is not used for five years, it may expire.
“Seizure is a legal way to obtain the registration of an unused trademark, which can be a very well-known trademark,” said Paulo Roberto Toledo Correa, a lawyer specializing in intellectual property and patents, responsible for the Gessy process.
According to attorney José Mauro Decusão Machado, intellectual property partner at Pinheiro Neto Advogados, anyone can request the expiration of a trademark from the INPI through the process, provided it can prove that it is not in use.
After the agency proved that the trademark was not being used, Gessy was registered by the company of three great-grandsons of the founders in different business classes of INPI, such as means and fragrances, household cleaning products, pharmacy. , catalogs, e.g. This reveals the extent of the family’s plans for the start-up business.
“We are in the process of registering class 35, which is a shop,” says Tocalino. But he considers that the move to have a shop under the Gessy brand would be a longer-term goal. For now, the focus is on personal care products, starting with bar and later liquid soap.
Before relaunching the soap, the entrepreneur commissioned a survey to find out how the brand’s memory was doing and was surprised by the results. The brand is remembered by an average of 53% of Brazilians of all age groups. Among the oldest, over 50 and 60 years old, the figure was about 80%. This explains the amazing sales figure of the first batch of soaps without advertising.
“We’ve sold millions of soaps and haven’t even scratched the surface,” says Tocalino. He compares the strength of the brand, which in his estimation is “very strong” to a large dinosaur fossil. “Let’s dig until we find the deal.”
The company’s plan is not to have an industrial plant like the brand’s ancestors, but to work with outsourced manufacturers. Clariq has signed a five-year deal with giant JBS to make Gessy soap and will be able to do the same with other industries for other products. “Gessy is a design business office,” says the businessman.
He does not reveal how much the partners invested in the business. “The investment was big for the three of us, but it’s not about millions of dollars.” Tocalino notes that there are brands that receive $30 million in investment on their first day of operation. But this is not the path chosen by the family, which intends to grow gradually and organically without losing control of the brand.
At the moment, he says, he is meeting with potential investors. Because the brand is already in the market with revenue from sales and customer buybacks, he says, the business risk for the investor is reduced and the cost of operations becomes more interesting.
In addition to attracting investors, thanks to the strong brand, the company is currently hiring a specialist consultant to identify the philosophy of the Gessy brand. “When we talk about Natura, the idea of nature arises. when it comes to Dove, moisturizing.” She raises the possibility that Gessy will be identified as a brand for the family, the working woman, the urban professional. “It is this identity that we must find.”
In addition to strong memory, according to Tocalino, the rescue of old deactivated brands is convenient at this time due to other factors. He notes that it is very difficult to create new brands, because practically all names were registered in INPI. By reactivating an unused tag, conflict risks can be avoided.
Jaime Troiano, partner at Troiano Branding, one of the largest branding specialists, emphasizes that the cost of launching a new brand is high due to media costs. In their calculations, the costs of using an existing brand are at least 30% lower than the investment needed to own a brand from scratch. This will explain, according to the expert, the resurgence of old brands in the market.
Unilever, sought in the report, did not comment on the matter.