VLCC Dubai

“Embrand’s Manoj Berry worked with VLCC to create the brand’s roots in its first overseas market, the UAE, by identifying the product best suited for UAE’s affluent residents – weight-loss management. Then, by aligning all business processes to it and implementing a series of strategic and tactical measures he turned the venture profitable.”

– Mukesh Luthra, Chairman, VLCC Group


VLCC was initially established in New Delhi in 1989 with beauty as its primary focus. But with the collapse of Personal Point (India’s pioneering, and dominant, medically-guided weight-loss services brand), VLCC took upon the opportunity to fill the void by re-shifting the focus to weight loss services. 100 centers and INR 100 Cr. turnover later, 2004 witnessed VLCC pioneering the standards policy by being the first in the world to achieve the ISO 14001 certification in its sector. It entered the UAE market in 2005 by opening its first center at Spinney’s, Dubai. But by February 2006, the sales dropped by 0.5 m AED and so did enquiry levels. Embrand was called in to fix issues concerning this rather grim development at VLCC.

Embrand’s task at hand was clear,

  • Arrest decline in Avg. daily sales
  • Prepare a strategy in growth in existing centers
  • Prepare a new plan for 2006-08 for GCC region
  • Identify new area for growth in UAE

An advertising campaign was conceived and executed backed by the fact that 60% of UAE population was Indian and they would be aware of the VLCC brand. But this campaign failed to collect steam as a sharp decline in enquiries coupled by contrary feedback from the neighborhood was recorded by Embrand. After a probe into this matter Embrand accounted for this bad start due to the following reasons.

  • Over 80% of UAE’s Indian population is from Kerala – where VLCC had no presence till 2005.
  • Salary levels of 90% Indians below 10,000 AED pm – putting VLCC prices (Haircut 75 AED, Entry level 8 session slimming program 2000 AED) beyond their reach.
  • It was presumed that the ‘women only’ Jumeira center, would attract customers of the beauty saloon which was earlier housed in the same villa but it was revealed that customers built relationships with beauticians, and usually moved with them. Further neither VLCC signage at site, or in ATL advertising did it highlight its slimming services.

Embrand proposed a revival strategy and chalked a new route with the following new guidelines,

  • TG: Affluent (Local men & women, European expats, Asian business families) in Dubai.
  • Core product – Slimming services, with beauty services sold in-house as post-slimming-session ‘grooming’ add-ons.
  • Brand differentiator – Knowledge drives Beauty.
  • Competition – Existing slimming ‘parlours’, gyms.
  • Support – Enterprise strength: VLCC’s professionally qualified medical & Para-medical staff, WHOapproved, ISO certified slimming processes.

The strategy was then broken down to 4 integral steps,

  • 1. Build knowledge – Using advertorials (a set of ads establishing VLCC as a scientific slimming centre were published)
  • Creating interest – follow up ads, radio, locational ads.
  • Building authority – Public service campaign
  • Driving traffic – Ongoing objective

Initial response to phase 1 of strategy – Sales from 1-22 Mar’06: 100,000 AED, Sales from 23-31 Mar’06: 400,000 AED.

Phase 2 had location specific ads with help from mobile units, external signage and radio spots.

Phase 3 was committed to demonstrate ‘knowledge’ differentiator vividly, this was done by conducting culture-specific diet programs designed & promoted for various communities, multi-lingual enquiry handling staff at both centres, sales officer to focus on lapsed enquiries appointed.

If the fact that competition beefing up their brand exercises wasn’t indicative enough that VLCC was gaining momentum, the numbers were resounding enough. Increase avg. daily sales to 0.9 m AED pm – sales from March’06, after repositioning the brand, climbed to AED 1.6 m till 30th April, and AED 2.6m till 31st May, with AED 0.26m ad spend. Other objectives which included,

  • 1. Prepare a new business plan for 2006-08 for GCC region – Biz. Plan prepared and accepted by Strategic Investment group’s board in UK on 21st April ’06.
  • Identify new areas for growth in UAE – Sharjah centre put on hold, Abu Dhabi identified as a key market, location finalised on 19 May 2006.