By Durga Chakravarty,
Dubai : Dubai-based Indian perfumer Abdulla Ajmal, who is the consulting perfumer to Ajmal India, says the label is ready for its “ghar wapsi” to offer the best in the country.
Ajmal Perfumes, a homegrown brand in India, was founded by Abdulla’s grandfather Haji Ajmal Ali in 1951. The brand serves over three hundred beautiful smells, with the most precious being the “Oudh”, which Abdulla describes as “liquid gold”.
In a tete-a-tete with IANS here, Abdulla, who is the first of the third generation in the family business, said: “We are focusing on India. Being proud Indians, we want to bring the best to our own country… It (the perfume) has always been a part of Indian culture, otherwise Kannauj (a decades-old perfume manufacturing industry) couldn’t have happened… People wouldn’t have indulged.”
Abdulla said fragrance has always been integral to Indians.
“In the southern part, Indian women wear “gajras”. It is not only because of the beauty, it’s also for the smell… People offer flowers to idols because it’s a sign of purity… That is there in the largest religion in India.
“It has been a part of our culture… It just got lost for a while, but it’s coming back and I’ve termed it ‘ghar wapsi’,” he added.
Born in Mumbai, Abdulla moved with his family to the UAE in 1988. He later travelled to the UK where he completed his Bachelors in Marketing and subsequently an MBA with specialisation in International Relations from Huron University.
Abdulla finds “great potential” in the India market, which is currently their biggest target audience.
“But like any brand, we need to start and as we are growing, the culture has to come into play over a period of time. The first name (that comes to people’s mind) when they think of fragrances should be Ajmal… That’s the whole idea,” he said.
Often, people only think of “attars” — fragrance oils — when talking about fragrances from the Middle-East. Abdulla dismissed it as a “mental block”.
“People have not been involved in this category, so everything they think is the most basic. (It is also) because they never took interest in knowing what all are there in fragrances.”
He is adamant about breaking that perception with Ajmal Perfumes. With the best of international labels cementing their space in India, how does Ajmal Perfumes plan to compete?
Abdulla said: “We are available in many areas where we compete with them directly, like the duty frees, modern trade, multi-branded outlets… What is special about Ajmal Perfumes is that we are creating for the market, and those guys, because of their size, don’t have the ability to target certain regions.”
His brand targets even regions by their taste. “The first thing is that the product is created bearing in mind the Indian palette…. Ours is more segmented and targeted. We are very clear that our brand is not just targeted at the wealthy 10 per cent.
“It has been created for the middle and upper middle class who can afford to buy perfumes frequently and re-purchase without it really hitting the pocket.”
While Abdulla knows the journey won’t be easy, he says “we will try to achieve that by getting closer to the customer”.
(The writer’s visit is at the invitation of Ajmal Perfumes. Durga Chakravarty can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)