To be a market leader one must offer the best quality product, and then the marketer needs to keep searching for edges over competitors.
Any false hope would not take a product far as it is impossible to fool millions of people for long, believes legendary marketer Syed Alamgir, the Managing Director of ACI Consumer Brands.
In an interview with The Business Standard, the man behind a large number of products leading the market said, "A market leader must behave like a leader, I cannot sell any second-best product. My product must be of the quality that I myself and my family members can use it every day."
Alamgir pioneered the idea of Halal products in fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) marketing and the marketing case—the success of Aromatic Soap with "100% Halal" slogan—is a must-read for business students across the world since Professor Philip Kotler included the topic in his 101 Marketing book Principles of Marketing.
When Alamgir joined ACI Ltd as an Executive Director in 1998, the company had only two consumer products.
Over the last two decades, he helped ACI grow very big in FMCG too, with market leadership in a number of product categories like edible salt, household insecticides, and antiseptic products. Also PURE branded stapled food items, spices are very popular in the market.
Alamgir, a Bangladeshi MBA, began his career in 1976 with multinational pharmaceutical company Rhone Poulenc Bangladesh which later turned into Aventis.
In 1992 he began his endeavour for new ventures with new products and joined Jamuna Group to launch Pegasus shoes, Aromatic Cosmetics, both of which turned out to be very successful.
"We said Aromatic soaps are "100% Halal" because those included no animal fat that hurts any religious sentiments. Now the Muslim consumers ask for Halal certification before they buy any product. Even the travelling industry is also opting for Halal certification."
He introduced laminated tubes in Bangladesh for toothpaste, creams and in a year of launching Aromatic toothpaste had acquired 15% share of the then local market. People loved to buy the product in a new convenient tube instead of the ones previously used to come in tin tubes.
"Colleagues in ACI expect new marketing ideas from me and I come up with some every year, " said Syed Alamgir who obtained his PhD from The University of New Castle, Oregon, the USA in 2006.
Best Quality for Loyalty
ACI offers a complete solution in consumers' daily life. It has dozens of products that gained consumers' trust.
"You encounter many ACI products every day. That begins with Colgate toothpaste in the morning, Savlon soap in the washroom, Pure branded food and kitchen items in breakfast, lunch and dinner, then our mosquito coil or aerosol when you go to sleep," said the marketing mastermind of those.
ACI introduced its salt in the 2000s with the declaration of 100% purity—free from any dirt—for the first time in Bangladesh.
ACI PURE salt also had iodine fortified that is important for brain development.
When competitors used to offer the same, then ACI marketers came up with the campaign that ACI Salt helps brain development.
Now PURE salt is widely dominating the market with at least one crore packets on the store shelves at any moment.
That is how a marketer must keep searching for edges over competitors, said Syed Alamgir.
However, everything comes after the word "Quality".
He said, ACI has gained the trust of consumers through delivering 100% of what it promises and consumers rightly believe, "The product is by ACI and it would not compromise quality."
Statistically, ACI consumer brands retain around 50% of its initial consumers on average; while in the market 80-85% consumers try something else after their first purchases of any product, according to Alamgir.
"This is a very high rate indeed," he said.
In the aerosol market, ACI's share is 90%, which is over 80% for Savlon.
Any competitor, be it a multinational or local company, runs a campaign for their own product, indeed pushes the market leader further up, consumers end up buying the ACI product in these categories, said Alamgir.
"You too may offer the best quality, you may offer a better price, but consumers barely find an aggregated reason to leave my product. That is support from the heart, consumer loyalty."
"Savlon soap has a moderate market share, but I am sure that this is of the best quality because we procure the best ingredients. Savlon lovers also find it true."
Alamgir believes two types of marketers opt for higher advertisement expenses, brands that have weakness in terms of quality and value for money proposition; and also who want a 80-90% market share.
"I shall be always in search of a need gap. Whatever is important to make your daily life better I will be trying to introduce that, of course, the best quality ones," said Alamgir being asked about his next product plans.
It is important to be good
Alamgir believes it is important to be a good person before being successful.
The same applies to corporate citizens too.
ACI's hygiene products portfolio had been there long before the pandemic came in 2020.
In early 2020, sanitising products were extremely running out of supply and ACI did not take any advantage to price unfairly.
"I have been saying that it is time to survive together, profits would follow through later," said Alamgir.
He admired the government how they handled the pandemic situation, especially Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina for her series meetings with district-level officials to tackle the pandemic, also for her support programs for businesses under incentive packages.
"Despite criticism, Bangladesh did much better during the pandemic, and we surpassed India in terms of per capita income," he said.
"It is our responsibility to keep safe and cooperate with the government to fight the pandemic well," he said.
Syed Alamgir also thanks the sales and marketing people because of their frontline hard work to let people avail the necessary products and services at doorsteps.