Connie has retail rigour
Actress may be the new kid on the business block, but she is spreading her wings with drive and focus
Connie Ferguson is more than just a pretty face. The beloved actress has established herself firmly as an entrepreneur in the beauty industry. She started Koni Multinational Brands in 2013 with three body lotions on a trial run at five Shoprite shops. She has just won the Shoprite Upcoming Supplier of the Year 2015 award after her product sales increased annually by 460% at Shoprite and Checkers stores.
The products are available at more than 700 Shoprite and Checkers stores, as well as at Pick n Pay and at Makro. Is it difficult being the new kid on the block in the retail market? What advice do you have for entrepreneurs?
Nothing is impossible if you really want to do it. Focus and proper planning are crucial, as are taking calculated risks and constantly redefining yourself. Learn from others in the industry and try to perfect that which already exists in the market. It is not necessary to reinvent the wheel, but it is critical to do something new, something that will make your product stand out from the crowd and be the consumer’s first choice.
Never compromise on quality. You must know that it’s a dog-eat-dog business environment out there and the competition is fierce. It is a real challenge, but Koni Brands is prepared to be innovative and to offer the best products. Did the support of an established retailer help with creating awareness of your product and market acceptance?
Yes, our research showed that Shoprite was the most effective place for our target market. It was a strategic move and the results were phenomenal.
We tested in five stores to reach our target market. The brand name was well received and we gained valuable insight into our market through this partnership.
Once the sales in the first five stores picked up, we negotiated with Shoprite to spread our wings.
Now the products are available in all Shoprite stores in the country.
Shoprite is the biggest retail group in Africa and can give us many more opportunities for growth. How many products do you have, and do you have plans to expand the range?
Currently, the Connie body care range has three body lotions for women, and we have just released three body lotions and a shower gel for men. We started the men’s range in reaction to client interest, but it is also a natural expansion of the Koni Brands business philosophy to cater for the needs of all our clients. Who is your target market?
The women’s range targets women in the Living Standards Measure 4 to 8 group. It is for aspirational and ambitious women who know what they want from life and who have the energy to strive for it.
Connie Men is for men who are confident, strong and who know what they want from life. A few years ago, you released a fragrance called True Self. Did it give you any experience in the beauty industry?
True Self was a pioneering product and my first brand name experience in the retail market. I learnt a lot from that experience and was able to take what I learnt to Koni Brands. Watch this space – the Connie range will soon release a fragrance!
Connie Ferguson with Whitey Basson, the CEO of Shoprite