Con­nie has re­tail rigour

Ac­tress may be the new kid on the busi­ness block, but she is spread­ing her wings with drive and fo­cus

CityPress - - Busi­ness - LETI­TIA WAT­SON busi­ness@city­press.co.za

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!

PHOTO: MARTHI­NUS RETIEF

BEAU­TI­FUL BUSI­NESS

Con­nie Fer­gu­son with Whitey Bas­son, the CEO of Sho­prite

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