We interviewed Eric Armengou, CEO & WaterCreator of HAAN

A Spanish personal care startup with a purpose that keeps on growing
July 2022
We interviewed Eric Armengou, CEO & WaterCreator of HAAN

We interviewed Eric Armengou Gallardo, one of the founders and current CEO & WaterCreator of HAAN, the Spanish startup that began its journey with its hand sanitizers and now triumphs with a complete range of products.  It also has a clear commitment to sustainability.  We invite you to discover a little more about this interesting company in this conversation.

How was HAAN born and what inspires you? How do you explain HAAN's success in recent years?

HAAN was born from the intention of two entrepreneurs to have an exciting and own project, after being distributors for Spain of fashion and footwear brands. Since its conception they wanted a brand committed in every sense: to provide value for their audiences, but also for the planet and humanity. This approach and its disruptive vision when landing in the personal care sector are the two main reasons for the brand's success.

What makes you unique? What are some of the keys that have guided you to differentiate yourselves in such a dynamic and active market as the natural beauty market?

HAAN is to personal care what Swatch is to watchmaking; Nespresso, to coffee; or Izipizi, to optics. They are all brands that have rethought the way they understand a sector and a product category. They all gave the market a good shake. They all personalized the well-known "masstige": a brand for the entire public at a price level and with a very aspirational image.

In our case, in addition to this first emotional perception of the packaging, image and fragrances, we have the more rational one. That of having formulas with more than 90% natural ingredients and with prebiotic active ingredients for the care of our microflora.

How would you describe the profile of the loyal buyer of your brand? What % of sales is Spain vs. abroad?

Our profile varies slightly from one country or continent to another. But basically it is a customer between 25 and 45 years old, mostly female, restless, with taste and with the values of the new generations. HAAN is present in 47 countries and Spain represents only 16% of its sales in the wholesale channel. Online, this percentage rises to 28%, by developing a more active strategy at the local level.

Does wellness today mean the same as it did 2 or 3 years ago, or how has it evolved? What importance do other factors assume in consumer discourse regarding beauty and wellness, for example, mental health?

I think we all agree that the last two crises, the economic crisis of 2008 and the health crisis of 2020, have brought about a strong change in the definition of happiness for each of us. Covid has also brought to light mental health in a latent way: we have become aware of the need to seek a mind-body balance. And many brands have been pioneers in empowering women, in betting on inclusion, in understanding their value proposition beyond the product.

In our case, from the beginning we have taken the microbiome care vision of our formulas as a global philosophy. In the same way that we seek to balance the ecosystem of our skin, we want the brand to make you feel good inside and out: to give people the wings to go further in their daily lives.

How important is it for you to be a brand with purpose? What role does it play in your business and strategy?

Our corporate claim "Turning Care Around" has many readings, but the main one is that of our social purpose. All of our products have an A side, the visible and experiential side; and a B side: the fight against the water crisis and the financing of projects in developing countries. And this purpose is active, not only when it comes to allocating 20% of the profits, but also when it comes to traveling to Malawi to learn about the new challenges and needs of the populations where all our #watercreators are collaborating.

What importance or weight does the Spanish beauty consumer give to sustainability today? What is he or she looking for, and how prepared are the brands operating in this space to offer it?

We are not at the level of northern Europe, but it is becoming more and more important. We have an interesting reading on this issue. Aspirational brands, often linked to design and fashion, are helping to boost this commitment on the part of the public. Fashion brands based in Spain such as Ecoalf, TwoThirds... are having a good impact. And in our case, we see it clearly: a good packaging design makes people not want to throw away the bottles, but prefer to refill them.

Although these brands have little weight, we are encouraging the big beauty groups with large market shares to "get their act together" and act: they are the ones who will finally make the sector more sustainable.

Within your success formula, how important is the sales channel strategy? That is, how do you think your consumer outreach has contributed to the growth of the brand? When is a HAAN store coming?

Since its inception, HAAN has had a multichannel strategy: we are aware that beauty chains may be the destination initially most associated with the brand, but in some countries, pharmacies are a great commercial partner. And even more so when most of them are being reconverted into care and beauty spaces, beyond medicine dispensers. 


And even if they do not represent a large volume for the company, being present in department stores and concept stores makes the brand achieve great relevance. Today we are in retailers such as Liberty, Selfridges, La Samaritaine, Lafayette, El Corte Inglés, Palacio del Hierro, Beams... Few Spanish brands can boast of this.


There will be exclusive HAAN spaces in the future... Our strategy is to start with pop ups to test the market and to be able to land in a couple of years in the street with our own stores.

What weight in the business do you expect subscription models to have in 5 years? What are the keys to making them work?

When the term subscription comes up, everyone brings out the Netflix joker; but one thing is entertainment and another, consumer goods. Even so, the trend is clear and this purchase option will gain weight. Of course, its evolution will depend a lot on each country and its own idiosyncrasies. Spain has never been a market where subscription or distance selling has worked, except in specific cases. 


In our sector, subscription is already the bread and butter in the United States, where directly in the online purchase process you choose whether you want a one-time purchase or a subscription with the frequency you decide. We are in the process of activating it, but we know that this will happen very gradually.

Eric Armengou Gallardo, CEO & WaterCreator - HAAN

We interviewed Eric Armengou, CEO & WaterCreator of HAANJaime Martín
Founding partner & CEO