Advantage kareena

Advantage kareena

C K Kumaravel, founder and CEO of Natural beauty Salon, talks about the value of using brand ambassadors efficiently


“Your entry into this world can go unnoticed, your exit should not be.  Your entry into a particular market can go unnoticed, but your exit should not be,” quotes C K Kumaravel, CEO and co-founder, Naturals, a chain of hair and beauty salon in the country. This was his thinking when he was looking at scaling up Naturals.  Kumaravel admits that his favourite role model in India is Dhirubhai Ambani. The fact that Ambani made the Indian middle class dream big has inspired him a lot. He has taken to one of Ambani’s favourite quotes: think big, think fast and think ahead.  “The minute we start thinking big, we need to create an image which is bigger than your brand. Thats where the brand ambassador comes into the picture,” states Kumaravel.

After reaching eight salons, Kumaravel was not sure which way to take to lead the company into its future. That is when he hit upon the idea of making Deepika Pallikal, the young squash sensation, the company’s brand ambassador. Naturals projected Deepika more than its parlour as he wanted Deepika to get more visibility and was happy with the rub off effect it had on the brand.

“What a brand ambassador does is they reduce your cost of advertising. They are perceived to be expensive, but in reality they are not,” opines Kumaravel. A brand ambassador also boosted the company’s ability to charge a premium for its services and reaffirms that it had an impact of the company’s financial numbers positively.

“We subsequently signed up Genelia D’ Souza, a film actor, as our brand ambassador. She was a customer in our Hyderabad centre when the management team met her and roped her in and put out advertisement in the women’s magazine, Femina,” details Kumaravel.

When Bharti Walmart was scouting for salon partners for their Easy Day stores, it had five shortlisted brands for it and Naturals was not in the list. “When the decision makers observed that Genelia was Naturals’ brand ambassador and enquired about us and we were invited to make a pitch. We were 124 salons strong then and popular only in the Southern parts of India. Bharti Group gave us a mandate to open 250 stores across all Easy Day stores,” says Kumaravel.

Deepika helped Naturals scale from 8 to 80 salons while Genelia helped grow the number from 80 to 280 salons.

“It is now Kareena Kapoor’s turn,” says Kumaravel, tongue-in-cheek. Naturals found Kareena Kapoor to be the right style diva who could grab the attention of its customers. When she became the brand ambassador, there were 290 Natural salons, which has now increased to 430. “We would like this number to touch 3000,” says Kumaravel. The company is also working on building a digital mannequin of Kareena Kapoor in Dubai, to create more excitement about the brand.

When you get your brand ambassador, ensure that you get the right fit. “What does your brand represent and what does your ambassador represent. Will they be able to get you necessary traction?” questions Kumaravel.  While most ambassadors may seem expensive, it cannot be treated as expenditure but as an investment and one needs to learn to leverage on this investment.

Key Takeaway

Do not view the price you pay your brand ambassador as an expenditure. Instead, think of it as an investment and figure out how to leverage on this.

Advertising Branding CK Kumaravel Marketing Naturals Beauty Salon Startup Marketing

Poornima Kavlekar has been associated with The Smart CEO since the time of launch and is the Consulting Editor of the magazine. She has been writing for almost 20 years on a cross section of topics including stocks and personal finance and now, on entrepreneurship and growth enterprises. She is a trained Yoga Teacher, an avid endurance Cyclist and a Veena player.

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