Appetite for fragrance is growing in India: Abdulla Ajmal

Dubai: Life has come almost full circle for Abdulla Ajmal, who believes that when it comes to making lifestyle choices, the new age India is ready for their label's "homecoming".

Abdulla, general manager of India-based perfume brand, Ajmal, which is a leading name in the fragrance industry in the UAE since 1976, says besides content, modern Indians want to bottle up the experiences as well.

"Nostalgia for some is marketing tool. For us it is truly an essence and an emotion that has been there. For us, when we say it's homecoming not only because we have done all the nine yards. I've lived all over the world, studied and exposed to biggest and best in the world.

"We feel the need to come back as now India has the time, the opportunity and the appetite. The taste is going to grow, the young population is going to ask for things which are lifestyle related. The question now is 'How do I make myself more presentable?', not 'how I look but how people perceive me?'" Abdulla told PTI in an interview here.

The man, who is the first of third generation of his brood to join the family business, says India has its own peculiarities. "Due to the diversity in our population, the adage of 'one size fits all' doesn't work here. In my travels, I found north Indians detest the smell of jasmine but the flower is lapped up in the south. Our woody and heady perfumes sell the best in Punjab."

Abdulla says besides commercialisation, the idea of penetrating Indian market stems from the fact that fragrance industry is currently in its nascent stage but it promises to grow at a faster rate. The origins of brand Ajmal can be traced in Hojai, a village situated at 165km from Guwahati in Assam, where Abdulla's grandfather Haji Ajmal Ali hailed from.

He says his grandfather - whose name serves as the brand name - was primarily a farmer who grew up with a commodity called 'oudh' in the backyard. Oudh (agarwood) is a fragrant dark resinous wood used in incense, perfume, and small carvings. It is formed in the heartwood of aquilaria trees when they become infected with a type of mould.

Abdulla says his grandfather laid the foundation stone in 1951 when he decided that with Assam's environment rice farming as the livelihood option will not be sustainable. He says the same bark of a tree can yield different grades of oudh, which makes the product so versatile.

In early '60s, Ajmal eventually took the whole family to Mumbai where they used to come to sell the materials. They became a quality trader of oudh and oudh oil and Ajmal sent his younger son, Fakharuddin to set up a store in UAE in 1976. For building a market in India, Abdulla says the perfumer needs to understand the mentality and the pallet of the consumer.

"The company will have to invest in reseasrch and development as you can't expect a connect with the product if it's done by a foreigner. You will have to devote time go understand your customer. You have to be patient and we're in no hurry," he adds.

With over 300 products to its name, Ajmal's USP is 65 years of experience, heritage and expertise. Abdulla says they always take the ownership on oudh, which is their mark of distinction too. Before coming on board the family business, Abdulla worked with Benneton and a financial consultancy. He says he knew joining the business was his true calling.

Abdulla plans to make Ajmal India's go-to fragrance brand in the next five years and to do that the company will have to design fragrances creatively to cater to the preferences of the target group. "It is, however, insights into the behaviour of the consumer that should drives the perfumer, not the ingredients."

News source: 

Back to Top