interviewBy Tony Nwankwo
Mr. Cornelius Tay, is the managing director and country manager (Nigeria and Benin Republic), Forever Living Products (Nigeria) Limited, a part of the US based Forever Living Products International, the world's largest producer and marketer of Aloe Vera based health and beauty products. In this interview, Tay, an icon in the marketing and advertising world, says Nigerians have come to identify with the products as specifically packaged to alleviate their health and beauty worries, while providing them financial freedom. Excerpts:
YOU have been here one year as managing director. What has been going on?
On December 3, 2008, I actually marked one year of taking over the management of Forever Living Products operations in Nigeria and Benin Republic. In this period of one year, we have experienced a remarkable growth in our business, especially with regards to the volume of our transactions which has increased by over 80 percent year to date. Also, we have increased our distributorship base as millions of Nigerians have now become aware of the products and are using them. There has also been a significant increase in the number of our independent distributors. These are average Nigerians who have decided to enter into the network marketing business which the products offers people in 130 countries today. We have also ensured extensive distribution and availability of our products, which are marketed by our network of distribution in more key market areas throughout Nigeria.
The company has been in Nigeria for quite a while, so what innovations did you bring to bear for this significant development?
Motivation, enthusiasm, a repackaging of the promise of the products and very, very aggressive emphasis on knowledge and understanding of the branded products and business. The combination of these things have helped to bring the business of the company to a much larger audience. As people experienced enhanced and healthier lives and improved their financial status they have actually been able to benefit from all the things that business offers.
Your distributors are your major contact with consumers of your products. What responses are they getting from the field on the products?
The products business is operated as a network marketing programme and therefore we deal with our independent distributors. They are the key people that we manage; we work with them; we encourage them, and they build the business on the basis of team work. For their efforts, they are remarkably compensated financially and through an array of incentives which include cash bonuses, real assets and annual international travels. In this business, our distributors have the ability to own their own cars and houses. These are benefits which mean a lot to every average Nigerian. This year alone our distributors have enjoyed travel incentives to Bangkok, Chian Miang and Phuket inThailand; Nairobi, Kenya; Accra and Cape Coast in Ghana; Peurto Vilarta, Mexico as well as Arizona, Texas and Nevada in the USA. These are part of the incentive programmes of the company. So, we empower our distributors and encourage them to realise the full benefits that business offers every hard working person all over the world. The distributors in turn retail the products across the nation, through word of mouth and by micro-marketing, which is door to door and using various communication techniques and selling aids and applying the training we provide free of charge to all distributors in many centres across Nigeria and Benin Republic.
When you say training, what is the purpose; why training?
We recognise that the knowledge of our products without the understanding of how the products are beneficial to people is not quite helpful. In other words, even though millions of people know about our products, and many thousands others actually engage in the business, increased understanding of the efficacy of these wonderful products is critical and most important to us. Because, increased understanding of the products by our people will enable them help millions of people who are convinced and willing to use our products. Increased understanding of how every product works in the body and the enhancement of the beauty of our consumers in general, is a very important part of the business that we do. So, our investments in training are aimed at letting our distributors not only know, but understand how every product that we market works, how every product improves the health of people; how the products enhance the conditions and performance of the body naturally and help young and old people reduce or prevent the frequency of occurrence of many illnesses and diseases. Our beauty and cosmetic lines, which we call the Sonya range, for example are all nature-based products made to make an average Nigerian man and woman more beautiful, more radiant in their skin and capable of providing all the body needs without the side effects that are caused by the application of alcohol-based products. Our Sonya products are zero-alcohol skin care, anti ageing and cosmetic products and they are made to restore the natural complexion of the body. All our products are Aloe Vera plus, whereas others products plus Aloe Vera. And if we understand that Aloe Vera is a wonder plant and is the first company to receive the International Aloe Science Council Seal of Approval for consistency and purity, it can readily be understood why we emphasize training in the marketing plan.
You are also in Benin Republic, how has the Forever been doing there?
Nigeria was responsible for the opening of a number of West African countries for Forever. And like Nigeria, most of these countries have accepted Forever Living Products; like Ghana, Togo, Cameroun, Ivory Coast and Senegal. Right now, our focus is the development of the strategic markets in Nigeria and Benin Republic. And the reason is that in Nigeria alone the potential for our business is extremely high. In Benin Republic, it is the same result as you are seeing in Nigeria that we are experiencing there.
One year at the helm of affairs, what message do you have for the distributors and the general public?
My message to all distributors who are benefitting from their FLP business is that the capacity is in each one of them to aim higher, earn higher levels of income and seek greater freedom from dependence on anyone. For all Nigerians, this is the time to do away with idleness and short cut to success, which is never lasting. Economies that are vibrant worldwide are those where more people work for themselves and exercise their entrepreneurial capacity to the fullest. We can all live a happier, healthier and wealthier lives if we are less dependent on others and are willing to work hard for ourselves.