A Nose for Success: Joel Cruz Triumph Preaches Resilience and Simple Yet Sound Marketing Strategy

Success does not come easy and that is true even for someone like Afficionado CEO Joel Cruz despite his current status as the lord of perfumes in the country.

Cruz is now recognized all over the world for his perfume business. He also received multiple awards both on the business side and corporate social responsibility. He is the standard when it comes to small-to-medium enterprise success.

However, it was not always smooth sailing for his business. In fact, perfume was not his first venture. Misfortunes forced him to chase his other passion.

Cruz was a psychology major at the University of Sto. Tomas but instead of pursuing medicine, he followed what his heart really wanted.

In his business website aficionado.com.ph, Cruz shared that his success was fueled by his decision to prioritize his passion. But it was not a perfume business at first.

He loved fashion and convinced her mother that while in college in 1987, he will set up an atelier in their garage. The business sailed. He went from having four high-speed machines to 60 in a few years. He also became a subcontractor for known malls Rustan’s and Landmark.

However, his business was among those hit by the Asian crisis of the 1990s since the garment industry was badly affected all over the world. Chinese garments also flooded the market and that’s the time he thought he had to abandon what he started. This was where he had to put forward his resilient side.

First, he moved to the U.S. and worked in sales for TFC. Then, he worked for his father’s truck business as a general manager. Unsatisfied, he stopped working for the family business in 1999 and pursued his other passion – perfumes.

He put in the work for his new venture. He did intense research about perfume and the business of selling it. He talked to the experts in the industry and after that, he was able to create a homemade scent.

He started small like everyone else. He rented a small space at Ever Gotesco mall but because of his natural knack for marketing, the small shop became a hit.

His marketing style, according to his website, is what he called guerilla-style. Simple yet effective.

“The strategy is to sell in kiosks in the corridors of high foot traffic areas in the malls. The brand awareness is created through guerrilla-style marketing and billboards,” the website wrote.

Cruz also emphasized how critical it is to choose a location for start-ups.

“Location is important. Not all businesses can survive in the malls. When you are near entrances where there is foot traffic, the salesperson must be aggressive in introducing the products.”

From having only two staff, Cruz now has 2500 employees while his plant produces 72 fragrances. He also ventured abroad. His business is endorsed by top Pinoy artists like John Lloyd Cruz, Gary Valenciano, and Erich Gonzales.

Times can get tough for people but as Joel Cruz has shown, and with the success of his Afficionado, people are tougher.

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