As the head of a global wellness brand with Indian roots, what are the main challenges you face in popularising Emami’s product portfolio in the Middle East?
Over the recent years, Emami has widened its geographic footprint. In the wake of shifting global economics and the kaleidoscopic consumer trends, there has been radical advancement in Emami’s international business too. Today, Emami group enjoys the patronage of billions of consumers globally. Emami’s vision is “Making people healthy and beautiful, naturally”; its research-led products have always been benign, consumer-centric, providing a superior value proposition and offering a basket of products ranging from healthcare to personal care.
As a brand that constantly challenges the status quo and focuses on innovation, the passionate agile team at Emami have responded to many unprecedented trials on our growth trajectory. Our mission is to localise our brands and products in the country as per the preference of the consumers. We soon recognized to rethink our international approach to enhance effectiveness, invest in communicating i.e becoming relevant to consumers across diverse nationalities.
Today, our brands are embraced with love by consumers in Middle East and also in Russia, Africa & South Asia. We stayed true & focused on turbocharging our core, enhanced the relevance of our brands and mastered the various aspect of revenue growth management.
How important are acquisitions for Emami and what are some recent acquisitions you would like to highlight? How do these strengthen your presence as a brand both globally and in the Middle East?
Emami witnessed changes in global trade paradigms in the recent times that led us to unveil new emerging markets and introducing channels for global expansion. We treaded beyond our comfort zone to be fearless and take larger strides while aligned to our corporate goals.
The company enjoys a successful track record in the acquisition of brands, integrating them, enhancing revenues over their erstwhile benchmarks and transforming them into stable platforms of the company’s visibility, respect and revenues.
Our journey started with the acquisition of iconic Indian brand Zandu, which to our pride was the world’s no. 1 topical analgesic balm (as per Nicholas Hall, 2020), followed by Kesh King – which is currently India’s no.1 hairfall expert creating waves in the Middle East.
In 2019, we acquired Creme21, a German brand previously owned by Henkel. Creme21 is an iconic German brand with high equity in the skincare industry. The mix of a strong futuristically simple pipeline and loyal Arab and Asian consumer base has been a growth driver.
Last year, we acquired Dermicool from Reckitt Benckiser Healthcare India Pvt. Ltd. We also increased the stake in Brillare and The Man Company. Emami also acquired an equity stake in Tru Native F&B Pvt. Ltd., a D2C business that markets nutrition products.
Very recently, Emami announced a strategic stake acquisition in a pet care start-up, Cannis Lupus Services India. The pet care segment is witnessing rapid growth and much in line with the organisational ethos, Cannis Lupus is unique as it offers Ayurvedic and herbal remedies under the brand Fur Ball Story.
While speaking to a media house in India recently, you stated how entering new markets “would be the oxygen for growth in the international business”. Please elaborate on this thought while sharing your vision for brand expansion.
Indeed, entering new markets is the oxygen for growth for Emami’s International business, elevating our ambitions. We are currently evaluating new countries with a detailed launch plan that identifies critical paths, resources, and decisions needed for success. We have a robust list of power brands. At the same time, consumers are always front and centre of our business. Thus, we are constantly conducting consumer research and analysing global trends to understand the fitment of Emami’s brands in every new country.
For example, we have christened Fair And Handsome to Smart And Handsome in some markets after evaluating the sentiments of evolved consumers around fairness. This will also help us enter new markets with our all new range of men’s grooming products in different formats.
Ayurvedic and herbal haircare products such as Kesh King and Emami 7 Oils in One as Indian haircare brands have a high order equity among consumers.
Creme21, with its German legacy has spread its wings and is all ready to launch new products and formats suited for new geographies and new consumers. Championing a perfect fusion of Ayurveda, herbal and science mixed with sustainability has taken the front seat. Do good for consumers and do good for the planet is our pledge. Thus, Emami’s international business is opening the aperture to current brands in newer formats and approaches to delight customers.
How do you see the upward change in the Middle East and where do you see the next growth phase for Emami, specifically in the Middle East?
The respectable Arab speaking consumers yearn for progress and modernity and yet embrace the power of Ayurvedic, natural and herbal products. We have been conducting business in the Middle East for 15+ years and I am extremely bullish about the region as I have seen ambitious transformations here. I see brave moves, bolder investments and a young population that is flourishing and wanting to make a difference.
By 2040, 1 in 6 people younger than 30 will live in the Middle East, it would be a bright, young, futuristic region. Interestingly, I believe the Middle East is an amalgamation of many different worlds. Thus, going forward, we are identifying a well charted granular strategy for the region.
We are constantly scouting for and investing in new-age businesses, startups and new categories thereby recognising avenues for growth in the region and give back more to the Middle Eastern society. It is my conviction in the region and the respect for knowledge of the local players here that led us to invest in local manufacturing and local sourcing centred in the UAE.
At the same time, we are investing in infrastructure and well-suited policies towards becoming a more attractive employer and creating opportunities for teams, leaders, talents, and new hires in the Middle East.
As a visionary business leader in the health and wellness space, do share a couple of tips for budding entrepreneurs hoping to enter the sector in the months and years to come.
I have always believed in think, learn and then act. Do that multiple times over till the sails of your (business) ship on the high seas have gained the momentum to stand against the mighty winds. Business leaders must develop an unrelenting drive to start afresh and catalyse breakthrough growth.
I have been advocating subscription to innovation commitment. Strong innovators have extended their lead, especially their ability to aspire and choose. At the same time, I have observed that businesses discuss the importance of innovation as a catalyst for growth, yet fail to act when it comes to shifting people, assets and management attention in support of their best ideas.
Leaders must dream big and have bold aspirations. While doing so they must bring their authentic passionate self to work every day in order to excite their most valuable asset – the team, which in turn must work as a cohesive unit. I have practiced and thus recommend to walk with the team, engage and help translate your vision into reality.