- Iftekhar Ahmed & Co. (IAC) performing digitally, traditionally to help develop brand loyalty
Interview with Mr. Waheed Ahmed — Director, Iftekhar Ahmed & Co.
PAGE: Tell me something about yourself, please:
Waheed Ahmed: I am currently the Marketing Director at Iftekhar Ahmed & Co. (IAC). As a Patron-In-Chief of the Pakistan Fruit & Vegetable Association (PFVA) and Chairman of Pakistan’s fruits, vegetables, food & beverage sector by the Ministry of Commerce.
I try to ensure that I play a positive role in the economic growth of Pakistan, and do everything in my power to focus on the manufacturing of products within Pakistan that can be exported instead of relying on imports.
I have worked in a number of important roles in government-related trade bodies and associations such as the FPCCI export, fruit & vegetable, and horticulture committees. I was also recently appointed as the Chairperson of the Sectoral Council for Agriculture & Food Processing by the Ministry of Commerce, Government of Pakistan.
By partnering with the government, I focus on creating stronger trading opportunities for businesses in Pakistan to boost the horticulture industry.
I have played a major role in the development of Pakistan’s trade relations, opening trade ties with 15 other countries where I was part of Pakistan’s business councils, and promoting Pakistan’s export potential to foreign governments.
I am a strong believer in the power of Pakistan’s youth, which accounts for around 60% of the country’s total population. I believe that with healthy activities and healthy food and drinks, the young population of Pakistan has a major role to play in the development of our country, and it is our youth to nurture and encourage the coming youth for a better future.
PAGE: Could you share your experience of launching brands in Pakistan?
Waheed Ahmed: Under the master brand of Iftekhar Ahmed & Co. (IAC), we have successfully launched two brands – Fruit Nation and LUSH. Fruit Nation is a premium nectars and Juice in the beverages category, while LUSH offers fruit drinks and tomato ketchup & chilli garlic sauces range under the LUSH brand to great excitement from our loyal customers.
Under each of these brands, we have a range of products that offer an innovative blend of fruit extracts such as ABC (Apples, Beetroots, Carrots), BerryApp, Govanna, Fit Punch, MangoApp and Masti Punch.
We launched ABC Juice last year as a healthy energy booster which is 100% juice with no preservatives, and no added sugar. It combines apples, beetroots and carrots, which present a range of health benefits such as detoxifying the system and increasing immunity.
PAGE: Which brands launched by you have fared well?
Waheed Ahmed: By the grace of the Almighty Allah, all of our brands have been received well by customers within and outside Pakistan. We focus on innovation and on manufacturing best practices along with tactical marketing approaches to target our customers. We recently launched ABC Juice under the Fruit Nation brand and have received a lot of praise for its uniqueness and health-boosting natural ingredients such as apples, beetroots and carrots. Our range of nectars as well as our range of fruit drinks are admired by people from Pakistan and beyond who praise us and our pioneering thought to bring flavors that haven’t been used by juice brands around the world. For example, BerryApp, Lemonistan, and Govanna are unique blends of apples and berries, lemon with Himalayan salt and guavas and bananas respectively.
Our range of sauces which include tomato ketchup and chili garlic sauce have been received well in the market. And it really does help that we are the only company in Pakistan which grows our ingredients such as fresh fruits and vegetables, packs them, processes them, packages them using Tetra Pak packages, and exports finished products, all the while supplying value-added products such as fruit pulps and concentrates to multinationals such as PepsiCo and Nestle.
PAGE: Brand equity is the worth of a brand. What is your perspective on it?
Waheed Ahmed: Brand equity is an important consideration for businesses, as it can have a significant impact on a brand’s financial performance and long-term success. A strong brand with high brand equity can command higher prices, generate more sales, and create a loyal customer base. Our focus is on creating greater brand equity for Fruit Nation and LUSH, as well as our corporate brand, IAC.
Building and maintaining brand equity requires a consistent and strategic approach to brand management, including activities such as advertising, product design, customer service, and other factors that contribute to the overall customer experience. By focusing on building strong brand equity, businesses can create a sustainable competitive advantage and achieve long-term success in their respective markets. We focus on building brand equity through digital and conventional marketing and advertising practices and use insight to create communications for all of our brands.
PAGE: Brand management begins with an analysis of how a brand is currently perceived in the market. Your views:
Waheed Ahmed: Effective brand management begins with a thorough analysis of how a brand is currently perceived in the market. This involves understanding the brand’s strengths and weaknesses, it is competitive positioning and its overall reputation among target consumers. When it comes to our brands, I feel that we have positioned our brands well in the market, and have a solid and growing user base that’s distributed across the country, and growing outside as well. We have done this by focusing on creating a brand personality for both Fruit Nation and LUSH.
PAGE: Brand loyalty is when customers continue to purchase from the same brand over and over again, despite competitors offering similar products or services. How would you comment?
Waheed Ahmed: I agree with the statement. I believe every brand should be able to create a certain sense of loyalty among its customers because they have a lot of options to choose from. So, the only way that you can stand apart from your competition is by focusing not only on the quality and taste of our products, but also on its innovative and creative packaging, shopper marketing, and using advertising in combination with persistent messaging through digital and traditional marketing channels.