Success story Benin / Beninese cosmetics manufacturer focuses on growth and innovation

SOAP & Co by LUV’SI is a small cosmetics company in Porto Novo, Benin, that has grown steadily since it was founded in 2020. Founder and Managing Director Sonia Houenoude Louvossivi has since expanded her range from soaps to include gels and creams. In addition, since last year she no longer only sells her products at artisan markets, as she has opened her first small store. At the end of 2022, the young entrepreneur contacted the SEC as she wanted to professionalise the appearance of her products. Together with a marketing expert, she drew up a marketing plan and analyzed the company’s growth potential.

With Robert Cohnen, the SEC was able to recruit a highly experienced marketing expert who has worked in the cosmetics industry for a large part of his career. After several weeks of preparation, during which the expert communicated with the client via email and online meetings, the SEC expert traveled to Benin in January 2024.

The client, cosmetics manufacturer SOAP & Co by LUV’SI, produces its products (soaps, creams and gels) exclusively by hand. The owner, Sonia Houenoude Louvossivi, relies on the support of one employee. She wants to expand and improve her products and also appeal to new customer segments. To achieve this, she worked with the SEC expert to analyse all areas of her company: the laboratory, production, warehouse, packaging and labeling, product appearance and brand awareness, marketing and communication strategy.

Step by step to more growth

After a thorough analysis of the company, the expert drew up a marketing plan together with Sonia. He made suggestions as to which products she could use to expand her range. He also showed her how she could gradually expand the current two-person manufactory and which machines could provide support in production. She immediately adopted these suggestions and has already started to implement them, and is currently in the process of having her products recognised by the local Chamber of Industry and Commerce. As soon as this has been granted, Houenoude Louvossivi will be able to distribute and sell her products everywhere.

About the client
SOAP & Co by LUV’SI is a small company in Porto Novo, the capital of Benin. It was founded in 2020 by Sonia Houenoude Louvossivi and is still managed by her. Sonia, who learned about local plants and their characteristics as a young girl with the help of her grandmother, is very committed to using natural and local products. She began making soaps, gels and creams, which she sold to friends, acquaintances and at special artisan markets. She was successful with this.

Interview with SEC expert Robert Cohnen

How would you rate the results achieved in general?
It is a pleasure to say that my recommendations for LUV’SI were received with great appreciation. As part of this assignment, I covered all the basic marketing elements involved in creating a cosmetics brand, such as product and range analysis, product claims and labeling, packaging, brand communication, etc. These marketing principles are implemented by LUV’SI to take this brand to a new level in Benin. Mrs. Sonia Houenoude, the entrepreneur, was very happy with the results.

What impressed you most about this consultancy assignment?
LUV’SI is a very small start-up company in its early stages. The entrepreneur is at the center of all business activities, from recipe research to the sale of end products such as soaps, shower gels and body creams. This is always a limiting factor for the company’s development. You need more staff and consequently more investment power. I was most impressed by the production of the soaps, which is carried out entirely by hand.

Where did you reach your limits during the consultancy assignment?
I don’t think I reached a limit in my consulting. The only aspect I could mention was the lack of size of the company. With such a small start-up company, you have to be prepared to put forward only the basic marketing and sales recommendations to enable a gradual development that the company can handle.

What surprised you or what didn’t work as expected?
I have already indicated that the production is surprisingly done exclusively by hand, in the simplest way and without any machines. Of course, you have to understand local conditions and the prevailing habits. One of my recommendations was to invest in basic production equipment in order to be able to produce larger quantities of soaps or other cosmetic products. There was full understanding and approval for this.

How would you assess the client’s situation after the SEC assignment?
I am sure that the client will fully implement my recommendations and give her cosmetics brand a more professional image, with new labeling, packaging, range planning and brand communication.

Of course, we need to find out if she will be able to provide the funding for the necessary purchase of basic production equipment, but I am pretty sure she will.