The direct selling or multi-level-marketing (MLM) has gone mainstream in recent years. More and more direct-sales businesses are entering Indonesia and successfully attracting new recruits – many of them women – to join as their sales-force. With fierce competition for jobs, many people are turning entrepreneurial, including in the field of direct selling, as an alternative means to generate additional income.
Committed to empowering women and enabling them to reach their full potential, JAFRA works to achieving much more than just selling products from mouth to mouth. It also has an ambitious vision to transform the lives of millions of women around the world.
Saviq Bachdar had a chance to meet up with Mauro Schnaidman, President & CEO of JAFRA International during his visit in Jakarta, to celebrate the 5th anniversary of the company’s beginning in Indonesia.
Let us talk about the history of the company you lead, JAFRA Cosmetics International Inc?
It all started 61 years ago in the home of our founders, Jan Day and her husband in Malibu, California, U.S. That’s why the brand’s unique name was actually derived by combining the founders’ first names, Jan and Frank Day. They decided to create a company that would touch lives of people around the world.
After studying the ancient beauty secrets of the Egyptians, Jan asked her company’s scientist to travel around the world, trying to research the best ingredients and formulations, no matter the cost. So, the scientist traveled around the world and found out about the royal jelly. of it was even found here, in Indonesia.
The scientist formulated the royal jelly as a skin-care product and the legendary Royal Jelly milk Balm was born. The company currently offers more than 700 beauty products, ranging from skin and body care, color cosmetics, spa goods, men’s skin care, baby care to fragrances.
As you might know, royal jelly is a protein-rich excretion produced by the worker bees. Only the Queen Bees eat royal jelly. That’s the reason the queen bees live forty times longer that the regular bee.
JAFRA is a global company today, with presence in 18 countries throughout Latin America, North America, Europe and Asia. We have 700,000 consultants around the world that generate sales in excess of half a billion US dollars. I think that not even our founder would believe that we have got what we are right now as a company. And imagine that everything just started from the royal jelly.
Royal Jelly became an overnight success and it has remained JAFRA’s signature product to this day. What latest innovations have you made using that?
Over the last 6 years, our research and development capabilities have evolved considerably. We have been able to create more advanced formulations that could provide the best results for the skin. For example, the new Royal Jelly Ritual that was introduced in 2015 was the most exciting launch in our history.
Note that, to date, JAFRA’s Royal jelly is sold in every six seconds. The company has also launched makeup, fragrances, and toiletries. Today, we are one of the leaders of beauty and skin care products in the world. Since 2004, JAFRA has been a member of a well-known family enterprise based in Germany, Vorwerk Group. It has emerged as a top direct-selling corporation, ranking fourth on the 2016 DSN Global 100 List.
What makes JAFRA unique?
The founder Jan has had a really strong mission in creating JAFRA, that is to help people’s lives. JAFRA doesn’t sell products in the shop, in the supermarket, in the beauty stores, or department stores. We sell it through people who are our consultants. Her vision is provide opportunity to people to succeed by selling high-quality products.
JAFRA is very focused on women, and more than 99 percent of our consultant base is female. That’s in our founder’s passion since the beginning.
We are here to transform and empower the strong lives of women. There are millions of women who – if they could work according to their potential – they can improve the quality of their lives, send their kids to schools and universities. These women are beautiful inside and out, not only by using our products, but also beautiful from within, confident, and help other women too to succeed.
What impacts are you working to achieve?
We do make a big impact. We have approximately 400,000 consultants in Mexico. We are doing very well also in Brazil and several European countries as well as in Indonesia where we have been present since five years.
In fact, Indonesia is now considered as the fastest growing market for JAFRA around the world. Our mission here is to help society get better, to help the people in need to increase their income, especially women. With around 300,000 consultants in this country, we are confident that we are going to proudly celebrate our 10th, 20th, or event 100th anniversary in the upcoming years.
You have a very catchy tagline ‘A Freedom to Be You’. What’s the philosophy behind that?
It stands for entrepreneurship and opportunity. What does it mean? It means anybody who joins JAFRA can build their own business, around their own lives. Normally, when you have a job, you build your life around the job. Because you have the hours that you have to be at work. After that, they can fill the remaining time with family and other priorities.
We see how powerful Indonesian women who are mothers, wives, friends, and leaders in the community. The do all those things not only for their own gratification, but for also fulfilling their family’s needs. Thus, the way we can do this is by integrating the JAFRA business model alongside the priorities that already exist in their lives.
And the reason we come up with ‘A Freedom to Be You’ is because we offer that freedom. That doesn’t mean it’s easy. It’s hard-work, we want our consultants to achieve their goals. But we don’t tell them what to do. I am not their boss. These women are their own bosses. They are their own CEOs. They decide when they want to work, not us. That’s the lifestyle that we are trying to popularize here.
Direct selling companies are facing challenges in the digital age; not only are the consumer increasingly shifting their purchases online, but technology has enabled brands and retailers to offer more personalized services, a key competitive advantage previously owned by direct sellers. What are your thoughts on that?
Yes, it’s true. Digital is absolutely being part of everybody’s lives and disrupting the conventional businesses. Almost everybody have their own smartphones right now. Nevertheless, we’re preparing ourselves for that. The way that we do that – which is already used in U.S. and will be implemented soon in Indonesia – we push consultants to have their own web shops.
So, once our consultants have the ability to have their own web shop, they are able to not only sell person-to-person through direct selling, but they have also an access for their customers to buy directly without having to talk to them.
That’s the way we do. We create a website for each consultant so they can sell online as well. We will continue to invest in establishing a presence for JAFRA in the digital space because it helps consultants build relationships and grow their individual businesses.
Regarding personalization, there’s an advantage for a company like ours, because we understand and talk to every different customer. We are not selling our products in supermarket, putting the products over there, doing advertising on television, and waiting for the customer to go there. We talked to them every day, understanding them is our concern.
Let’s talk about the skin care, you know if she’s worried about the wrinkles, she wants anti-aging products, or she has dark spots, now they can offer the right products that they need to solve the problem.
How tight is the multi-level competition in Indonesia?
Of course, there is a competition in Indonesia, and we are glad of the competition here. It shows that the market is hungry for the opportunity. We don’t believe this market is saturated. We believe that the market in Indonesia is growing. There are always other players and tight competitions, especially in big apples like Jakarta and Bandung.
But I think our difference and strategy start with the impact of the most people we achieve. Over the years ahead, we’re going to be realizing more innovations product in the future. Next year, we are going to be launching a make-up product innovation with 62 years of research behind it.
The results that people get from this product can be seen through social media, like Instagram. You’ll see so many posts because so many people are having great results. So in the end of the day, there is a way to earn money.
But if our products are not excellent, the opportunity has no power. So it starts with the product being great, so customers will be reordering every month. It makes the power of the business.
What do expect from Indonesia to support JAFRA’s business?
I think it’s from I heard, Indonesian economy is doing great. The country is more and more open to welcome different brands. It’s very young and very digital. In order to be successful here, you need to have the mentality approaching this new generation that has a lot of ambitions to grow, and you have also to take the economic momentum when Indonesia is a host Asian Games 2018.
The country has 17,000 islands remains a challenge. Maybe you know the way to do here is to start in one island an end up with other island. We want gradually to expand to approach the entire country. We have started in Java in 2013 that consist of 70% of total consultant numbers, and will expand the number of consultant from various cities in this archipelago to expand the market.
Have you ever wonder that someday direct selling companies need to do the advertisement?
I think our main ambassador of brand is our consultant. In the old times, the direct selling companies didn’t use the advertising because they have the people who promote their brand, and the word-of-mouth works very well. Today when the digital is on the rise, the game has changed a little bit.
The consumers are more and more looking for digital. The reviews, the comments, and the communities that we build to discuss our products are majority coming from the digital platform.
According to me, the direct-selling companies need to understand and know the digital. We have to be much more presence to the digital world, and much more conscious that whatever we do can be spread out quickly. Meaning that we have to be very responsible, responsive, and aware of the quality.
Edited by Priyanka Shekhawat