Andres Ortega is CEO of Ambientair, a manufacturer of air fresheners, candles and a variety of products for interiors. He is also president of the Segovia Business Federation and was recently named president of the National Glass Center Board of Trustees, La Granja Royal Glass Factory.
An avid businessman, he is strongly committed to social initiatives and supports several charities. He is a patron of the Esteban Vicente Museum of Modern Art and an active participant in the Concerts of Candles in Pedraza.
How important is the brand to a company like Ambientair?
For Ambientair, the brand is what sticks in consumers’ minds after they use our products. It needs to sum up our quality standards at a glance. We aim to create memories, for customers to have a positive experience with our product and return to us. To cultivate a relationship of trust and loyalty, we need to differentiate ourselves from the competition, offer things others don’t have, and find our place in the market. This is achieved through a strong brand image and high-quality products behind it.
In terms of corporate identity, our new image has opened the doors of internationalization even wider to us. We have adopted something that simply and elegantly represents all the home air freshener products we manufacture. In addition, the logo pairs perfectly with each of our lines, coordinating with a vast range of modern, rustic and romantic styles. It makes us more innovative and capable of adapting to consumer trends.
You have 10 brands (Ambientair, Animikados, Lacrosse, Le Jardin de Julie, Sweetie Aromas…) What are the advantages and disadvantages for a company when working with multiple brands?
We’re always creating new collections. We have many of them and they’re very different, which allows us to cater to the wide variety of tastes and styles in the market, in both large retail stores and specialty shops.
As a part of our brand strategy for Ambientair, all our products are sold under this name, but they are easy to differentiate. For instance, we have lines specifically for supermarkets and large retail stores, where the purchase decision is more impulsive and the turnover is higher. In these stores, you can find lines like Ambientair Classic, Ambientair Basic and Ambientair Natural & Fragrances. The prices, fragrances, formats and styles are all different, so they’re more suited to the preferences of our customers, who know they’ll always find a good product behind the name Ambientair.
In specialty shops for gifts, home decor and cosmetics, the public is quite different, so the product is too. These types of consumers have high purchasing power. They don’t mind paying a bit more for an exclusive product with distinctive packaging, a good design, and of course, a great fragrance and high quality. Here, we offer our top range, called Ambientair Collections, which has two lines (Lacrosse and Le Jardin de Julie). In this area of the market, you’ll also find our Animikados brand, a different concept that deals with emotions, with very eye-catching formats and a unique philosophy that is very popular in the domestic and international markets.
In addition, we have other mid-range lines for drugstores and beauty supply stores. These products are always high-quality and popular with customers. At the same time, they are price-sensitive due to the more intense competition in this area.
We have specific sales teams that work with each of the lines I’ve described, developing new products and constantly analyzing the threats and opportunities in different sectors, along with consumer trends.
Customers buy products for different reasons: because they want a good deal in terms of price, a gift for someone, something to decorate their home or a product that fits their lifestyle… and of course, in every case, because of the fragrance.
We recently broke into the cosmetics market with the traditional Dermatina brand (maker of the famous Globo hand cream, which even our grandmothers used). By stirring memories, we have found a great sense of nostalgia in the market. This iconic cream belongs to a traditional line in which we maintain the original formulas, which still work quite well in today’s market, but we’re also developing powerful and innovative new products to appeal to younger consumers.
You travel around and introduce your products at trade fairs. What is your company’s advertising strategy in the international market?
Selling products with excellent quality is our best strategy for success. However, the key to establishing ourselves in the international market is to start with large retail stores and supermarkets; there we are represented by Ambientair Natural Fragrances, Ambientair Classic and Ambientair Basic, among others. Internationally, we also have suitable mid-range collections for drugstores, but we’re trying to become established with a solid position before moving forward ambitiously with the rest of our ranges. We have yet to invest in communication or advertising in this market, although we plan to do so in the future.
Which are your key markets today, and which markets hold the most potential for the future?
One market that is becoming increasingly important to us is the international market. Our ranking of export countries is led by Mexico, Portugal and France.
Our market of the future is the United States, and we’re already gaining ground there with big accounts. Our goal is to work with the main players in the market and achieve satisfactory business volume. We therefore have a subsidiary in Miami, and we participate in different trade fairs (among them, the most important one in our sector, The Atlanta International Gift & Home Furnishings Market, in the category of High Design). We also aim to continue growing in Asia and carve out a niche in the United Kingdom.
We don’t see any limits to our potential on the international scale, and we’re convinced we must take maximum care of our material quality and workmanship, which are our strong points opposite the Asian manufacturers. The “Made in Spain” label differentiates us in every sector, and at Ambientair, we try to emphasize the quality our country is known for. We have a global reputation for it, although many Spaniards don’t fully believe it.
How important is the online sales channel? What percentage of your company’s total sales does it represent?
In our case, the online channel is a great letter of introduction. It’s important because it’s a very direct way of reaching the final consumer, but not the intermediary, so it doesn’t represent a large percentage of our company’s total sales.
The online fragrance market is… unique. Through a mobile phone or computer, you can’t detect the nuances of the “ocean” aroma in a car air freshener. Even if our imagination helps, and the risk of making a mistake is very low, most customers who buy products this way are already familiar with them.
In terms of online sales, you have to connect with our product differently compared to a perfume, especially if you lack previous experience with the fragrance or the format: through the brand image, the product philosophy, the story told by the collection, and above all, the style. After all, like candles and stick air fresheners, these objects are both functional and decorative.
Even so, a growing number of people are buying home fragrances online without having tested them before. This is a time when aromas are very important in our daily lives. We’re not even loyal to a particular cologne or perfume, and even if we do have a favorite, we have many other bottles around. The same goes for our homes: it’s fun to change fragrances more often, use different scents in every room, try out new aromas and surprise our sense of smell. Although you take a risk when buying a fragrance online, especially when the aroma is less common or the components are intriguing and exotic (goji, tuberose, matcha, vetiver…), the risk is part of the game in terms of the purchase experience and the connection with the brand.
What are the biggest challenges for Ambientair today?
The challenges are very big for Ambientair and any other company that wants to stay in the market. It’s not easy to maintain the pace of growth we’ve achieved so far, which requires a huge daily effort from our entire sales team and the departments behind it. I believe the secret is to know your customer, understand what he or she wants and aspires to, and offer products that meet his or her expectations.
The future will be about improving, strengthening and establishing our collections, consolidating our geographic expansion both domestically and internationally, and achieving a global presence. We need to strengthen our online marketing and one-to-one communications and be capable of anticipating movements in the market, detecting trends and even creating them.
Our challenges are typical of any aspirational brand. Having a high-quality product remains our objective, based on continuous improvement and the pursuit of innovation and added value. Applying this innovativeness to our lines, products and company is the key.