Retail was never in our plan and it won’t happen in future also: Frederic Widell, Oriflame

Widell, VP & Head of South Asia & MD of India business of Oriflame, says direct selling model has been growing and e-commerce is not hampering it in any way

e4m by Dolly Mahayan
Published: Jun 6, 2019 8:06 AM  | 3 min read

2018 was a year of mixed performance for Oriflame. Though the company faced challenging market conditions in some of its key markets, strategic categories such as Skin Care and Wellness continued to increase their share of overall sales. Also, online activities remained at a high level.

Also, the company which has a presence in over 60 counties, has completed 50 years in the business.

Last year only, Oriflame appointed Frederic Widell as the Vice President and Head of South Asia & Managing Director of India business. Earlier, he has worked on four different key Oriflame markets-- Sri Lanka, Vietnam, India, and Indonesia.

The company began its India operations through direct selling model and has relied on the same approach for the last 24 years. According to Frederic Widell, “Direct selling business approach has seen many positive changes in the last years. Technological factors, services, and infrastructure have played a great role in the business. It has become more feasible and easier to deliver products. This is the kind of revamp we have seen. This has helped the brand’s geographic reach. Now we can deliver our product to far-flung areas, which wasn’t possible earlier.”

On the direct selling model and whether it is hampering the overall business of the company, Widell said, “Retail was not in our plans earlier, and it won’t happen in the future also. In the western world, retail is on decline and e-commerce is growing. Even big companies are closing down retail stores and focusing on online business. But the direct selling business model has been growing. Online sale is not hampering us in any way. Digitization only helps the brand and consultants to do the business in a faster way.”

“Word of mouth plays a crucial role in our business”, he added.

The 2018 annual report of the company states that the brand has made a digital transformation and now combines social selling with digital tools. As much as 96% of the company’s global orders were placed online, and the share of orders placed using mobile devices reached over 50 per cent.

In India, the brand is revamping its service centers. Frederic believes that “there’s a need to cope up with the latest technology and give an immersive experience to consumers”.

The brand has started the process in other states as well. 20 service centres will be eventually revamped.

Although Oriflame is basically a beauty brand, the company has now also entered the Wellness category. “Wellness space is a large segment in India. The biggest part of the brand is beauty, and it will remain the same, but it’s important to have different offerings as well.”

Till last year, Kalki Koechlin was the brand ambassador of the company, but now the brand has no celebrity on board. Talking about the reasons behind the decision, Widell shared, “The reason behind not having an ambassador is that we’ve decided not to take this route and not invest in brand ambassadors. They cost a lot of money. We would be investing that part of the money into other ATL activities, and other platforms for the time being. There is no need to have a brand ambassador right now. We will see how this has been for us. Maybe, there could be a new face, but right now there is no need.”

“Celebrities endorse so many brands now and this raises an important question on their credibility. In western countries, no brand uses brand ambassadors for their products,” he added

In the past, the brand has earlier associated with stars such as Malakai Arora Khan and Sonali Bendre.

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