Search

Search form

Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - A beautiful business plan is a healthy one

A beautiful business plan is a healthy one

A beautiful business plan is a healthy one

091028_08
Neary Khmer Association Director Ing Sovanly is hoping to develop demand for domestically produced beauty products in a market dominated by Thai, French and American brands.

Neary Khmer Assocation is aiming for a nationwide presence by reinvesting the profits from sales of its beauty products

Cambodia’s beauty industry is increasingly influenced by international trends, making it difficult for small Cambodian companies to gain shelf space in a retail sector dominated by Thai, French and American products.

Despite limited consumer spending power, the Kingdom’s consumers generally purchase expensive, imported beauty products and consider domestic variants second-tier, according to the founder of one such company.

Ing Sovanly, the director of the Neary Khmer Association (NKA), which manufactures a dozen types of shampoo and an assortment of other
products, is hoping a marketing message based on more beauty for the buck can help the company break through.

“Rather than focusing on expensive foreign trends, I’d like Cambodians to focus on healthy, cost-effective beauty products,” she said.

Like many in the domestic beauty industry, Ing Sovanly learned to manufacture cosmetic products while abroad, developing an interest in the subject while completing a master’s degree in agriculture in Thailand.

Upon returning to Cambodia, she noticed that women tended to use beauty products with little understanding of the health benefits and implications and decided to launch a range focused on health as well as beauty. “I thought about quality first, and knew the profits would come once the users began seeing benefits.”

Ing Sovanly said the secret ingredient was the “effective microorganisms” concept, which combines beneficial microorganisms to create a whole greater than the sum of its parts.

Even as Ing Sovanly attempts to overcome a preference for all things foreign, she recognises that it’s impossible to get too far away from overseas influences. When she launched NKA in 2000, her first products were mostly labelled in the Thai-language. The approach worked initially, but a rash of anti-Thai sentiment in 2003 drove NKA into bankruptcy.

“It cost me five years and $100,000,” Ing Sovanly said.

Switching to Khmer and English labelling and marketing proved more palatable to domestic consumers and returned the company to the black.
The company also relies on some imported ingredients, with around 15 percent of materials brought in from Thailand. “I’d like to make everything domestically,” she said. “This year I will cut my imports to just 5 percent.”

The firm has taken a distinctive approach to marketing its shampoos, which retail for between $3 and $5. Rather than traditional advertising, the company relies on word of mouth, training students to market and sell the products. The company has completed 103 training courses, churning out around 13,000 students. “Our former students have been instrumental in increasing our sales,” she said.

The business was launched with 20 employees in 2000 but has since grown by one-third. Ing Sovanly plans to expand the company from its current location in Choam Chao district.

“I will open two branches this year, one in Siem Reap and one in Kampong Cham province, and next year I will continue to open branches in all 24 Cambodian provinces,” she said.

She said she hoped to grow using capital generated by the business.

It currently earns between $13,000 and $15,000 a month in sales, but she refused to discuss profit margins.

She said she was optimistic about the future. “Cambodians are using more beauty products every day,” she said. “Demand is just going to increase. Cambodians should be able to purchase locally produced beauty products, and producers have a responsibility to create healthy, inexpensive products to make their customers look and feel their best.”

RECOMMENDED STORIES

  • Breaking: PM says prominent human rights NGO ‘must close’

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has instructed the Interior Ministry to investigate the Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHR) and potentially close it “because they follow foreigners”, appearing to link the rights group to the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party's purported “revolution”. The CNRP - the

  • Rainsy and Sokha ‘would already be dead’: PM

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Sunday appeared to suggest he would have assassinated opposition leaders Sam Rainsy and Kem Sokha had he known they were promising to “organise a new government” in the aftermath of the disputed 2013 national elections. In a clip from his speech

  • Massive ceremony at Angkor Wat will show ‘Cambodia not in anarchy’: PM

    Government officials, thousands of monks and Prime Minister Hun Sen himself will hold a massive prayer ceremony at Angkor Wat in early December to highlight the Kingdom’s continuing “peace, independence and political stability”, a spectacle observers said was designed to disguise the deterioration of

  • PM tells workers CNRP is to blame for any sanctions

    In a speech to workers yesterday, Prime Minister Hun Sen pinned the blame for any damage inflicted on Cambodia’s garment industry by potential economic sanctions squarely on the opposition party. “You must remember clearly that if the purchase orders are reduced, it is all