Now it’s time to take a close look at a small but competitive business making a difference for the Korean economy. Soy milk created by pediatricians, cosmetics developed by dermatologists…with the retail market becoming more professional, medical doctors are using their expertise and knowledge to move into retail entrepreneurship. With professional knowledge and clinical experience, doctor CEOs are developing products based on their own experiences in the field, which is contributing to the development of both academia and industries. In line with this trend, there is a Korean company specializing in oral healthcare called Zeniton which was set up by a group of practicing dentists. Let’s hear from Zeniton CEO, Joo Ji-hoon.
Zeniton began in 2009 when a group of dentists got together to do something meaningful. We are trying to create products to promote oral health. Our company name comes from “Zenith”, which means “the best” in Greek, and “On”, which means for something to be “ongoing”, so we are continuously trying to aim for the best. As we are oral healthcare providers, we are trying to become the world’s leading company for oral healthcare products.
Zeniton was established in 2009. Hundreds of dentists and many dental clinics are a part of the giant dental care company, which is rare even for international standards. There is a reason why hundreds of dentists came together to establish the company. They all wanted to develop a high-quality product for oral health.
Our philosophy is to create a product that our family will feel safe using. There are toothpastes that use surfactants that are in shampoo or soap. We try to use the safest ingredients possible or natural ingredients in our products. When we first started, around five to ten dentists would research ingredients and put them together to create a product. Then, we would try out the product at various dental clinics to see how our patients responded to the taste, scent, aftertaste, removal of plaque, and so on. That is how so many doctors came to develop our products together. Also, we collaborated with private research institutions to create big data on the ingredients in our products. If we couldn’t find the right evidence, we analyzed other studies on our ingredients to come up with the right mix.
Zeniton has the philosophy “creating products that are safe for your family.” The company tries to exclude ingredients if their safety has not been proven, and replaces chemicals with natural ingredients to create oral healthcare products. The company has revealed all of the ingredients that go into their toothpaste to let consumers know how safe their products are. What is interesting about Zeniton is that dentists create a taskforce for national oral health to develop the company’s products. Products that are developed by this taskforce are then distributed to dental clinics nationwide that are part of the company to undergo multiple quality tests on the taste, scent, color, bubble amount, plaque removal ability, aftertaste, and so on. While undergoing this process, the prototype continuously goes through changes and modifications. Although the development expenses go up, it shows Zeniton does not compromise when it comes to the nation’s oral health. In 2010, Zeniton started off by launching a children’s toothpaste and now creates other specialized products too.
Our children’s toothpaste was launched in December 2010. Our product lineup includes “Gumproject Propoli Toothpaste” for healthy gums and “Doctor Zenni Mother’s Toothpaste” for expectant mothers, which doesn’t contain any chemicals that can negatively influence the fetus. As young children do not know to spit toothpaste out, we have “Doctor Zenni Kid’s Toothpaste”, which does not contain fluoride, and older children can use “Doctor Zenni Children’s Toothpaste” which includes fluoride.
Zeniton currently sells four products; a hypo-allergenic toothpaste for expectant mothers with inflamed gums and periodontal disease, toothpaste for young children that is free of synthetic preservatives like parabens and benzoic acid made from vegetable surfactant extracted from palm trees, a fluoride-free toothpaste for children who may swallow toothpaste, and a toothpaste that prevents gum disease. These different types of toothpaste have been specially developed in consideration of the users’ oral condition, hygiene, and safety. They are products that were created based on the professional knowledge and clinical experience of dentists. However, it took time for these products to win the hearts of consumers.
We tried to sell our product online and also tried other distribution channels in the beginning, putting out our products at major discount chains, department stores, and eco-friendly stores. However, it was very hard to sell a product that is not well known. We must have tried selling our product at around 1,000 different vendors and stores. But, companies started to recognize our product and it became known through word-of-mouth. Nowadays, our product ranks #1 for children’s toothpaste on the online retailer Coupang
Zeniton tried hard to advertise its product and company policy to consumers. Soon, they were among the leading oral healthcare firms on domestic social commerce retail sites and were even selling their products on one of China’s top three online shopping malls, VIP.com. Acknowledged for their excellent products, Zeniton even won the ‘Hi-Seoul Brand Award’ last year. The company plans to roll out five new products this year.
Our new products are mostly for teeth whitening, aching gums, and people with braces. People who have braces are more likely to get cavities, so we have developed toothpaste with a higher concentration of fluoride for them. We also developed toothpaste for older children called ‘Dr. Zenni Junior Toothpaste’ and ‘Dr. Zenni Lactobacillus Candy’ which is a sweet snack that contains probiotics and also improves your dental health. These products will be released this year.
Many dentists came together to create oral healthcare products that people can use without having to worry about safety. Based on their medical knowledge and expertise, Zeniton will continue to develop leading products in the future.