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Published on: June 14, 2021, 5:45 p.m.
Ajmal Perfumes and House of Anita Dongre make aromas of collaboration
  • The co-brands will offer 28 different products across EDP and body mist categories

By Suman Tarafdar

Collaboration between brands, especially in the Indian lifestyle space, has seen mixed results. Notably, most have been for limited collections, a sort of testing the waters. So, it was interesting to note that the recently launched Ajmal Perfumes and House of Anita Dongre co-branded fragrance lines of eau de parfums (EDPs) and body mists roll out across AND & Global Desi exclusive brand outlets (EBOs), apparel multi-brand outlets (MBOs), beauty stores and Ajmal owned stores – 500+ doors in all besides e-commerce platforms.

With this collaboration, “We wanted to create a special line of fine fragrances meant to evoke Indian sensibilities,” informs Abdulla Ajmal, business mentor & perfumist, New Horizons of Ajmal (NHA) division, Ajmal & Sons India. “We experimented with the tried-and-tested classic fragrance pyramids to create a line spanning over 16 fragrant compositions meant to evoke your memories and emotions.” Adds Anita Dongre, chief creative officer, House of Anita Dongre: “To create unique and quality fragrances, the partnership with a market leader like Ajmal Perfumes is a step in that direction”.

“Our aim was to bring to the table something unique, which hasn’t been done before in India,” explains Saurav Bhattacharya, president, operations, NHA division, Ajmal & Sons India. “The process started with intense brainstorming sessions to understand consumers of AND & Global Desi, to get an in-depth understanding of their psyche – their likes and dislikes, as also what got them excited. “What emerged was not a single unified portrait because the modern Indian woman is not a monolith. She comes in many shades and different moods. The result was eight archetypes, each one embodying a different aspect of the AND or Global Desi woman.”

“We wanted to be thorough in our research and development and come with a fragrance range that connects with our customers,” concurs Kavindra Mishra, managing director, House of Anita Dongre. “We crafted these fragrances where 600 of our customers came together to test the samples.”

According to Mishra, fragrance was a gap in the brands’ portfolio. “We were looking to partner with a brand that is in alignment with our values. Ajmal Perfumes, a homegrown and heritage brand, has an established global presence, known for crafting fine perfumes with ethical ingredients sourcing. It brings with it 70 years of experience and the fact that it started at the grassroots with the founder being a farmer, appealed immediately to our sensibilities. It was a natural fit for us.”

Though Mishra declines to put a number to sales target for Y1, he says the brand is looking at “fragrances contributing a significant percentage of our overall business. The sweet price points of our EDPs and mists are making it an easy impulsive purchase for our customers”.

For Bhattacharya, one of the biggest benefits of this alliance “is the opportunity to share our legacy and craftsmanship with a large new audience in new markets.” He says that – while the House of Anita Dongre is handling the marketing function and channel management of its EBO, “We are solely responsible for the craftsmanship, manufacturing and management of the other channels of sale other than House of Anita Dongre EBOs”.

Both brands are looking to leverage the strengths of the other. “Through this tie-up, we are able to fill in into the lifestyle apparel space with two leading apparel brands in the country while offering us an extensive retail footprint as far as the EBOs of AND & Global Desi are concerned,” says Bhattacharya. “On the other hand, House of Anita Dongre gets to make its fragrances available into the market through Ajmal’s repertoire of a larger distribution network”.

The co-brands will offer 28 different products across EDP and body mist categories. While the EDPs will retail for Rs1,800 for 100 ml and Rs1,200 for 50 ml, body mists are priced at Rs400 for 200 ml.

 Eye on India

Ajmal Perfumes, which had humble beginnings in Mumbai and later set up shop in Dubai, is now an international brand retailing through 240 EBOs, and is available in 45 countries. In India, Ajmal Perfumes is available at 3,000 points of sale across a mix of channels which comprise modern trade, e-commerce, general trade, MBOs and owned retail.

Elaborating on the perfume sales trends in India, Bhattacharya says the country “is seeing a trend of growing customer expectations for customisation and personalisation; it is getting tougher for brands to straddle the entire spectrum of prospects. Within that, extending a mass market brand to more premium segments will be even trickier. We at Ajmal have captured this well and fortunately have been successful in ensuring a smooth straddle from masstige to luxury by means of organic and inorganic expansion.”

It is expanding its perfume division in India via New Horizons of Ajmal (NHA), which was formed in 2018 as a subsidiary of Ajmal & Sons. Unlike its principals in India, NHA only focusses on packed perfumery products and not traditional products like attar.

One of the hardest decisions faced by a new start-up like the NHA is how to quickly broaden their product line-up in order to deepen market appeal, increase consumer attachment by offering a wider range of products, and widen the market opportunities, ruminates Bhattacharya. “One way to do this is through using private label and co-branded products to quickly expand the number of products offered. Both approaches provide the potential to offer proven, consumer-friendly products at a minimum cost to the business.”

The fragrance market in India is anticipated to reach Rs139.44 billion by 2024, expanding at a CAGR of 15.93 per cent from its 2019 value of Rs66.58 billion, according to ResearchAndMarkets.com. The largest market shares are held by Fogg, Nivea and Engage.

NHA is bullish about expansion in India. “Our aim is to cross 5,000 points of sale in the next 12 months,” says Bhattacharya. “Our strategy is to tap into points of sales expansion, but more importantly, we are now cutting across markets by increasing depth and width. Distribution in a FMCG method with the right profile of outlets is the key to expansion. We also see a multitude of opportunities across channels as we understand the product exceptionally well. In the next 3-5 years, we look forward to achieving 15-20 per cent share of the evolved premium perfume market. To be able to achieve the said market share, we aim at creating annualized $50 million top line against the annualized investments of $15-20 million in the next three to four years.” Ajmal in India contributes to about 10 per cent of the global sales volume, largely led out through traditional sales.

The pandemic has accelerated the future into the present, says Bhattacharya. “Shifts in distribution network, creation of accessible product lines, transforming fragrances from lifestyle to essentials category were always a part of a long-term strategy. We have moved manufacturing to India in order to save nearly 35 per cent on various import duties. This crisis offered us a unique chance to give the consumers exactly what they need – a width in the portfolio by increasing methods of fragrance delivery.” That might just be the way to reach the Indian consumer seeking to regain composure from the aftereffects of a punishing lockdown. 

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