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Yasser Joharji, managing director, Binzagr Unilever

Yasser Joharji, managing director, Binzagr Unilever

Yasser Joharji, Unilever’s first Saudi national managing director, recalls his career highlights. Shams Ahsan reports from Jeddah.

September 14, 2011 3:31 by

Joharji was actively involved in the marketing of Lipton, which is considered to be the second largest retail tea market in the Middle East.

The total tea market in Saudi Arabia is SAR950m, ($253 million) out of which the Lipton’s value share is 73 per cent.

“We used to visit villages and sample Lipton, so people have Lipton social moments,” recounts Joharji.

The nearest competitor to Lipton is AMS Baeshen and its popular brand Rabea, so Unilever has adopted
a vigorous marketing-cum-awareness campaign to keep its grip on the market. It also “upgrades” people to
higher value segments: From loose tea to tea bags to green tea to flavoured tea.

The success of this was highlighted in  OgilvyNoor’s Islamic branding survey in which Lipton ranked the number one brand. The survey was the result of a two- year study conducted in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Malaysia and Pakistan.

The consumers surveyed felt that the top brands are brands that “bothered to create advertising and communications relevant to them.

“They also created jobs and established relationships with communities.

“These are the brands they feel close to.”

Brands you feel close to

As a marketer, Joharji is also proud of his involvement in the successful launch in the kingdom of Clear shampoo for men in 2007.

This was the first male -dedicated shampoo launched in the Saudi market. In just four years it has become the number one brand in the male-exclusive shampoo category in Saudi Arabia.

Says Joharji: “It was a marketing case study. It was team work at its best; it was leadership at its best; it was integrated planning. We mapped the consumers.

“We made sure what the consumer needs were. We developed our product based on that, and we launched in a fashion that generated a very positive consumer reaction. They voted for our product; they liked the product.”

So, what lies behind the strategy?

“We position our brands very well in consumer minds,” replies Joharji. “We engage and partner with our customers where you have a brilliant solution based on the consumer insight and you place it very well on the ground in a fashion that adds value to all parties. So it is a win win situation for everyone. That’s the model that keeps us going.

“We talk to our consumers at every touch point, and we don’t think of advertising in a…


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