Oriflame is an international cosmetics company selling direct, with sales in 59 countries. This year’s interim report shows that local currency sales in Asia from the second quarter have significantly increased by 60%. Although the company has grown rapidly it has never lost sight of its original business concept, natural Swedish cosmetics sold from friend to friend.
According to Thomas Ekberg, Oriflame’s Regional Director in Asia, the key elements to strong sales trend is the focus on the sales and recruitment processes, which has improved the general leadership in the sales force. “Leaders are today taking further responsibility for the training and ongoing recruitment of new sales consultants.”
In Charge of Asia
Only the age of 37, Thomas has been around Asia since 1993. His journey started when he was an exchange student in Hong Kong, after finished the study he decided to further his stay and had the opportunity to join the renowned fashion retailer H&M (Hennes & Mauritz).
After working in the fashion business in Hong Kong, Thomas moved back to Stockholm to work in the auto spare parts industry for about two years as Regional Manager for the Asia region.
“I had to spend close to 200 days of traveling per year, as I was responsible for the whole Asia region,” says Thomas.
“It is nearly no difference today. I still have to travel pretty much all the time.”
In 1999 Thomas moved back to Hong Kong as he was offered the position as Managing Director of Ahlens Far East Ltd., the subsidiary of Åhléns’, the largest department store chain in Sweden. Thomas career with Oriflame started in early 2000. He was positioned in Jakarta, Indonesia as Managing Director for three and a half year. In 2003 he was transferred to India as Managing Director and Regional Manager for a sub-Asian region. Thomas stayed in India for two years before relocating to Bangkok, Thailand to set up a regional office for Asia region in the capacity of Regional Director
According to Thomas there are over 250,000 active sales consultants and close to 800 employees in the region.
“In each market is run by a managing director, and the regional organization is here in Bangkok to support the local markets in the areas of product marketing, catalogue planning & development, sales support, finance, supply chain, and IT.
“We have quite recently relocated our Catalogue Development Centre (CDC) for the Asia region from Malmo, Sweden to Bangkok,” says Thomas.
“Each month a new 88 pages catalogues are launched in each market with over 300 new product launches per year. The catalogues are the main Oriflame sales tool. Per year we have to print ten million catalogues in Asia region and 90 million for Oriflame globally. The only company that prints more catalogues than we do now is IKEA but I think we’re catching up.” he says with a smile.
High Sales Growth
Asia local currency sales in the second quarter have increased by 60% driven by a 53% increase in the average sales force and a 4% increase in productivity. Oriflame posted very strong growth in all Asia countries, particularly in India and Vietnam.
“We are having a very good momentum in Asia. Business is doing very well in India, where we have high expectations. We’re also doing well in Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Vietnam and also here in Thailand. “Thomas says.
“Thailand is the tenth largest direct sell market in the world but it is extremely competitive. We had some difficulties to break through at first but now we’re very glad to see Oriflame growing beautifully in Thailand.”
“We are looking to grow forward and we believe that Asia region is capable of developing fast. We have high expectation of what we can do with this region.” He continues.
What makes Oriflame distinguish from other cosmetic brands is that Oriflame’s cosmetics are based on natural ingredients, inspired by the natural beauty of Sweden with a concept of blending the wisdom of nature with the best of science. The products and packaging are also very much environmental friendly.
“It is the company policy to utilize product packaging which has minimum environmental impact. The packaging for most of our products can be recycled where such recycling facilities exist.” explains Thomas.
“We also have the policy not to test products on animals and we don’t use any ingredients which are derived from dead animals in Oriflame Cosmetic formulations. The majority of ingredients used here are from natural plant sources.”
Keys to the growth at Oriflame come from successful product introductions, improved catalogues and increased catalogue frequency, enhanced service levels to consultants and most importantly a highly motivated sales force and organization.
“Beside that Oriflame’s strategies are always developed within the framework of its core values which are Togetherness, Spirit and Passion,” explains Thomas
“People who work together and share the same goals always achieve greater results. They motivate each other and know that pulling together is more rewarding than going it alone,”
“Personal contacts, relationships and friendliness mean that millions of people purchase affordable quality cosmetics from Oriflame everyday. This is a sound foundation for the Oriflame opportunity where consultants who want to make a career can advance to leadership levels and build a better future for themselves and their families.” Thomas continues.
40 Years of Success
Oriflame started when Swedish brothers Jonas and Robert af Jochnick, and their friend Bengt Hellsten decided to start their own business and created a direct-sales cosmetics company to develop a new kind of skincare based on natural ingredients. At the same time they introduced an innovative method of direct selling and Oriflame was born.
“I am in my eight year with Oriflame, and it feels great being here for the year of the 40th anniversary” says Thomas.
“I have been passionate about Oriflame’s product and income opportunity since day one and the best thing in this company is the constant improvement year after year.”
Oriflame is a great company and what is great about it is that we are a cosmetic company in a direct selling industry, which means we are in the people business. Our success depends on how good we are in attracting people. “
“Our 250,000 consultants are running their own businesses. Oriflame is about selling the dream to start your own business. Oriflame is not only about cosmetics. It’s more about opportunities, make money today and fulfill dream tomorrow.”
“The most exciting news still lies ahead and we have a clear dream where we want Asia to be on the 50th anniversary, the #1.” Thomas finishes.