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Thomas Ekberg

Managing Director and Regional Manager, Asia | 28 Aug 2004

“Oriflame has been positioned as a global cosmetic company offering ‘luxury but affordable products’. Our customer promise is to make it easy for people to look their best.”

Swedish cosmetic firm Oriflame set its eyes on the Indian marketplace almost eight years back. Since then the company has seen a phenomenal increase in business. Thomas Ekberg, Managing Director and Regional Manager – Asia, in an interview with Ranjana Gupta of exchange4media.com says realising the need for quality cosmetics among Indian women, the group launched a cosmetic range specifically manufactured to meet the needs of Indian skin. The response to the brand has been tremendous and at present, Asia contributes around five per cent to the annual turnover of € 652 million. The manufacturing unit at Noida not only caters to the needs of Indian market but also outsources products in other markets. It’s not only the women’s market, which the company is eyeing at; even the new men’s range will be launched soon.

Q. What are the new Oriflame products that you are planning to introduce in the Indian market?

Oriflame India will during the next 12-15 months introduce some 400 products within the segments, colour cosmetics, skincare, fragrances, toiletries and healthcare. We have in store some new exciting shapes and colours, exotic and beneficial ingredients and some incredible claims. Some exciting new product launches during the coming months include the new Swedish Care skincare range, the Oriflame Whitening range, Oriflame Face Care range. Also, the colour side will literally be flooded with new soaps and shampoos (of course, only with natural ingredients).

Q. How are you positioning yourself in the Indian market?

Oriflame has been positioned as a global cosmetic company offering ‘luxury but affordable products’. Our customer promise is to make it easy for people to look their best.

Q. How well has Oriflame-framed friend-to- friend marketing strategy succeeded in India?

We have had some ups and down since our launch in 1996. However, 2004 has started strongly and a healthy double-digit growth was seen for both Q1 and Q2. At present we have over 15 lakh consultants across the globe. In India also the number of consultants is increasing day by day.

Q. There is a speculation that Oriflame might tap the conventional retail medium to push its products in India. What’s your take on that?

That is simply not true. Oriflame is a cosmetic company reaching out to its customers through Direct Selling. This gives the consumers a chance to get advice and inspiration from people they know and trust. Buying direct is reliable and convenient. The consultants get a good margin on the sale of products and the consumers get a benefit of direct sales. Through out the globe in 55 countries we follow this strategy.

Q. Is there a new Product strategy that you are going to unveil?

Oriflame Cosmetics is globally constantly improving the product range in order to have the best product claims and latest colours.

Q. Is it true that Oriflame is going in for a new brand look?

We will in future show our heritage more in the product design. In other words, the packaging will be modern – simple, yet elegantly Swedish in design.

Q. What is the global brand building strategy of Oriflame?

Our vision is to make Oriflame the first name that comes to mind for anyone looking for affordable quality cosmetics or a career in a friendly direct sales company.

Q. Is the brand building strategy in India the same as in Western markets?

Largely, we follow the same strategy as practised in west, but of course, with some local adjustments to fit to the Indian market. To give you an example, in India there is more emphasis on skin whitening range and products in this range are sold extensively through consultants. Whereas instant tan creams don’t find any market. Hence market-specific products are launched.

Q. We hear that Oriflame has acquired a new logo. Why so?

Our logo has just gone through a small evolution to fit even more with our new packaging.

Q. As a cosmetic player you are a low- key advertiser. Why so? Any plans to step up advertising?

Oriflame is generally investing slightly less above the line, compared to traditional retailers. For advertising the various cosmetics range, mainly below-the-line activities are used. Elvie Fashion Show is being organised across nine cities in the country. The first show will be organised in Bangalore on September 3 followed by Guwahati, Delhi, Ahmedabad, Chennai, Pune, Mumbai, Kolkata and Lucknow. These events would be attended by over 10,000 consultants and their associates. In all, these events would not only create a brand loyalty among consultants but would also help in brand building and brand positioning.

Q. How do you plan to fight competition from the top cosmetic brands?

We plan to fight competition by always offering a better, affordable and luxury product to the consumer.

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