Omani incense-based brand set to go international

Buoyed by the stellar commercial success of its merchandise, the Omani SME behind Oliban — a brand embodying an expanding range of beauty and wellness products derived from locally harvested frankincense — is poised to take its popular product range to international markets.
According to a key company executive, the international foray will also coincide with plans to further diversify the product line-up, as well as beef up capacity of its production facilities at Misfah Industrial Estate, on the outskirts of Muscat Governorate.
“We have recorded a growth rate averaging 15 per cent per annum since Oliban was launched in January 2017, as well as achieved our break-even point in the first year alone,” said Dr Salim al Wahaibi, Chief Technology Officer — Oliban. “Going forward, we are set to open new markets for our product range in Europe, initially in Spain and Denmark, as well as strengthen our presence in the Gulf region.”
Oliban, which makes use of essential oils extracted from frankincense sourced from Dhofar Governorate, is now marketed in three broad categories: The Seven Wonders of Oliban for skincare; Remedies of Oliban for wellness, oral care, pain relief and other pharma-based applications; and a Spa line catering to hotels and spas. The latter range is now available at all of the leading resorts and spa facilities in the Sultanate.
A fourth category is due to be rolled out in 2019, according to Dr Al Wahaibi, formerly a health affairs professional who retired from the Ministry of Health to become an entrepreneur with a focus on harnessing the potential of quintessentially Omani natural resources.
“We have piloted a line of scent diffusers based on frankincense, which we plan to commercialise next year,” he said.
The entrepreneur credits much of the brand’s enormous commercial success and popularity to the company’s decision to leverage social media platforms to create an expanding customer base.
“In the first year alone, we garnered a whopping 30 million views across our digital and online platforms, which are driving our growth. Moreover, our newly revamped website now makes it possible for customers to order for their products using ecommerce service providers like Aramex and UPS.
And in keeping with the Oman-centric focus of our business, we have tied up with the local ecommerce start-up, Mandoob, to distribute our products locally.”
Also in the works is a strategy to grow the brand’s physical presence in the Gulf region, says Dr Al Wahaibi.
“We will have Oliban in stores across the GCC either through dedicated outlets or through distributors. In the Sultanate, we already have a presence in the National Museum, and in Duty Free areas in Muscat and Salalah airports.”
In line with its positioning as an innovation-driven SME, Oliban is exploring novel ways of marketing its product range. Recently, the brand announced tie-ups with leading florists in the capital region — a approach that has produced amazing results, according to the entrepreneurs.
“This flower-shop based channel capitalises on the similarity in the appeal behind flowers and our frankincense-based range. Customers can now get our products as an integral part of a flower arrangement or bouquet. We tested this approach and found it successful.”
Longer term, the company plans to strongly align Oliban with the country’s tourism brand, given the enormous appeal of frankincense — an enduring symbol of Oman’s rich heritage — underlying either brand, Dr Al Wahaibi added.

Conrad Prabhu