Nael Ahmed joined Reckitt Benckiser in October
2000 as Sales Director. His responsibilities include building an
effective and efficient sales and distribution network as well as
inducting and strengthening the sales force. This is aimed at
inculcating the new organizational culture, based on core values. As
part of the leadership team at Reckitt Benckiser Pakistan, Nael is
responsible for the company's long- term growth and strategic
direction. Nael has had extensive sales and marketing experience with
leading multinational organizations in Pakistan. Before joining
Reckitt Benckiser, he worked with Pepsi Cola International as their
Franchise Director for almost eight years. After his MBA from the
Institute of Business Administration (IBA), Karachi University, Nael
proceeded to the University of Nebraska where he completed his MS in
By SHABBIR H. KAZMI
Feb-18 24, 2002
PAGE: There has been a strategic
shift in sales and marketing policies of Reckitt Benckiser (RB). Why
the need for this change was felt?
Nael Ahmed: I think it would be more
appropriate if we say the shift is fundamental in nature. As for
change, I believe in the phrase, "change is the only
constant". We have changed our strategies and tactics to keep up
with the changed market and consumer needs and to stay a step ahead of
our competitors. Even in future we will continuously change and evolve
to stay attuned to the consumer and the market needs.
PAGE: RB has a long history of
operations in Pakistan. What are the areas and products in which the
company considers itself to be the market leader?
Nael Ahmed: Reckitt Benckiser, previously
Reckitt & Colman, has been in Pakistan for over 50 years and we
certainly take pride in that fact. It is now market leader in most of
the categories it operates in. Some of our prominent categories and
brands are like household names. In pest control category, Mortein and
Coopex brands are the market leaders. In antiseptic category, RB
dominates the market in the liquid Dettol. As regards laundry care, RB
is the market leader in laundry brightening agents. In
pharmaceuticals, our Disprin, Disprol and Aspro enjoy very large
market share. With Cherry Blossom range we are also the market leader.
AirWick, is our recently introduced category. We plan to be the leader
in a short span of time. Our current portfolio includes Aerosols,
Bathroom blocks and Agarbattis.
PAGE: RB has added some products to
its long list/relaunched the existing products. What has been the
Nael Ahmed: Yes, we have added some products
and more are in the pipeline. Some of these will be introduced this
year. The products we have added or relaunched in last twelve months
are, Robin liquid blue, Robin powder in Sachet, Dettol Extra a new
variant, plus relaunch of existing variants, relaunch of Cherry
Blossom shoe polish and Coopex coils. Air Freshner have been
introduced with the brand name of Airwick This clearly shows the pace
at which we are moving forward. Consumers and the trade will hear a
lot more from us in near future.
PAGE: Which segment has the largest
Nael Ahmed: Actually most of the segments we
operate in have tremendous potential and its really up to us as to
what we make of the whole thing. Even the new segments we are planning
to get into have enormous potential, only to be limited by myopic
PAGE: Looking at the market size,
what are your marketing plans and areas of focus?
Nael Ahmed: Reckitt Benckiser began
operations in the late fifties in Pakistan. At present there are three
manufacturing units in the country providing quality household and
pharmaceutical products to a diversified consumer base. The
outstanding contributor to our success is its portfolio of brands and
the passion for excellence. The most important element of RB vision is
its people. The future direction of the company is clearly defined.
The engine of growth will be new product development keeping in view
consumer needs. At the same time we are developing strategic alliances
with our suppliers the world over.
Both in Sales and Marketing, for next couple of
years, we will remain focused on getting the basics right. Knowing the
consumer better and improving our efficiency and effectiveness will be
our prime objective. Pakistani market presents great opportunity
whereas most of the companies including us are still scratching the
surface. Going back to basics, we will ensure that we are able to
exploit the opportunities and find simple ways to then cash in over an
extended period of time.
PAGE: How do you compare Pakistan's
market with other regional markets?
Nael Ahmed: Generally the third world
markets are quite similar. The consumers are price sensitive yet
willing to try new products. The trade is fragmented with very little,
if at all, any organized sector company can claim to enjoy. Pakistan
is no different in that respect. However, I feel that Pakistani
consumers like to spend and therefore can more easily be attracted to
try new products and in some cases services. The trade on the other
hand tends to invest little and likes to work on credit. While this
may be an efficient way of doing business for the trade, it does have
implication for the organisations like ours.