- Sunday, 28 May 2023
- Today’s Market
Oktopus Fitness Club is expanding with a fourth branch scheduled to be opened this fall in Tbilisi, with plans to expand into the regions.
“We definitely want to go beyond Tbilisi and offer the experience called Oktopus to different regions of Georgia. And this is included in the development plans of Oktopus Fitness Club,” Director Giorgi Asatiani told Golden Brand.
Oktopus Fitness Club strives to offer its members the best fitness equipment, workout options and the perfect environment to keep fit in. It provides over 2,000 safe, effective, efficient, and enjoyable group class programs on a monthly basis for professional athletes and fans of healthy living.
Thanks to a good environment, professional trainers and all types of fitness equipment, Oktopus Fitness Club has become the leader on the Georgian market and also became the winner of Golden Brand Awards in the category “favorite fitness center”.
Speaking about the factors that led Oktopus Fitness Club to the Golden Brand win, Asatiani highlighted that Oktopus Fitness Club is a “100% proud Georgian rooted brand” which serves to promote a healthy lifestyle in the country.
“Today, there are quite a lot of successful companies operating in the fitness sector, and therefore it is very gratifying that Oktopus Fitness Club was praised and recognized with the Golden Brand award. Winning the Golden Brand showed us once again that selfless work always brings results”, he said.
Q. Golden Brand is given to brands following successful operations of the previous year. Please summarize 2022.
A. 2022 was a year of awakening and restart for many businesses, not only in Georgia but also the world. After the end of the two-year pandemic, companies were allowed to continue operating under normal conditions. In 2022 Oktopus also offered a lot of new things to our club members. 2022 was quite fruitful, productive and rewarding for our club.
In 2022 Oktopus Fitness Club was listed among the top 15 fitness clubs worldwide by Life Fitness as GYMSPIRATION - which makes us very proud.
Q. Please tell us about Oktopus Fitness Club’s development over the years.
A. In 2016, when we opened our first branch, we were distinguished by our avant-garde interior, comfortable environment, and high-quality trainers, but of course later on this wasn’t enough. Today it is very important for our club members to find an orderly environment during their visit to the club, which makes it even easier for them to pursue their goals.
All three branches of Oktopus Fitness Club operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week — we never rest. All members of our club have unlimited memberships, which means that the customer enjoys Oktopus club advantages without limits. We have two branches in Saburtalo district and one in Vake.
In general, Oktopus stands out for introducing conceptual innovations to the market. Oktopus is the only fitness club where access to services is simplified and customers can manage their account online without leaving home. Our mobile app was created for this purpose.
Actually, our app is something we are very proud of — we were the first fitness club in Georgia to have its own app, which has been in use by our customers for almost three years. Our app is always in the top 20 in Apple's Health & Fitness category in our region.
I think the main values that are highlighted in the name of the brand have a big contribution to the development of Oktopus: OK - for a source of positive mood and inspiration; TOP - for competitiveness and striving for victory; US - for a friendly and team environment.
Q. What workout programs does Oktopus offer?
A. Oktopus is the only fitness club in Georgia that offers more than 2,000 group exercises during the month.
We offer unlimited and diverse group classes. We have many innovative exercises such as body ballet, which is built on strength exercises with ballet elements, and fit dance, a mix of Georgian dance and exercise. Recently spinning exercises have been very popular among consumers, which is a fairly high-intensity cardio exercise and is ideal for consumers who are struggling to lose weight.
Naturally, classical exercises such as Pilates, yoga, Zumba and boxing are always popular and have had loyal customers for years.
Q. You offer sound-therapy to customers. As far as I know, Oktopus is the only fitness club to offer it. Please tell us more.
A. Yes, we were the first to offer our customers sound-therapy, led by Lika Evgenidze. Lika has been interested in sound therapy for years and studied it while living in America. And in 2022, we offered our customers sound healing classes, which are very popular and always at a full capacity. I definitely recommend to attend the class.
Q. Who exercises more, men or women?
A. Seven years ago, when we opened the first branch, the proportion of men in our clubs exceeded 70% — today this figure has dropped to 55%. Women's interest in fitness clubs has increased considerably, and now there is almost an equal proportion men and women.
The age ratio of our customers has changed a lot over the years. While seven years ago the average age was 20-25 years, today the average age of our customer is 30-35 years. I think this will increase even more and slowly a culture will emerge in our country that exercising and taking care of one's own health is a priority at all ages.
I would also like to mention that the average period of time spent at the club has also increased over the years — it’s about two hours, which also speaks to our other amenities, such as the cafe, lounge, coworking spaces and so on.
In general, the behavior of our customers towards a healthy lifestyle has changed significantly in recent years, interest has increased, and I can safely say that the whole team of Oktopus Fitness Club has contributed a lot to this.
- Thursday, 25 May 2023
- Today’s Market
The world’s number one cookie, Oreo, has been recognized as Georgia’s favorite after winning the most prestigious and influential local business award, the Golden Brand.
Davit Khutsishvili, brand manager of Biscuits category at Mondelēz International, the multinational food and beverage company based in the United States which owns Oreo, told Golden Brand that despite an “extremely tough” 2022, Mondelēz International had not only maintained leadership in the Georgian market with its Oreo brand but also “grew by double digits”.
2023 started with new products under the Oreo brand and new plans that the company will gradually reveal to Georgian customers.
Khutsishvili sat down with Golden Brand to talk about it all.
Q. Georgian customers have named Oreo their favorite brand this year. What brought Oreo this recognition in your opinion?
A. I would say that there were two key factors of our success — our disruptive innovations and marketing campaigns, and strong presence in-store. For example, last year our food-forward campaign “Crunchy creamy crunchy” helped us promote the key benefits of the product to our consumers.
Q. Golden Brand is given to brands following successful operations of the previous year. Please summarize 2022.
A. It was an extremely tough year for our team, but we managed to maintain leadership on the market, staying close to our consumers in Georgia
Q. Can you share the sales statistics of 2022 compared to 2021?
A. Being a public company we cannot disclose specific figures, but I can say that Oreo grew by double digits in our country last year.
Q. How has 2023 begun for your company, and what are your expectations?
A. We started this year with the gaming NCP oriented toward the young generation who are keen on cybersports. We launched a promo with attractive prizes like gaming laptops, mouses, keyboards and earphones.
This was followed by the Oreo Double Fun campaign – we presented our customers cookies with two mixed tastes: vanilla with caramel and vanilla with raspberry. This campaign is being supported by 360° marketing support in TVC, in-store, digital and social media.
Q. What are some recent developments in Oreo as a brand? Please share the brand's progress on the Georgian market.
A. Oreo is the #1 cookie in the world. It is also known as the most “playful” cookie in the world, and we’ve been customizing this approach to our consumers in Georgia.
Q. Please tell us about the future plans of Oreo for the Georgian market. Do you plan to introduce new products to Georgia and which would those be?
A. Yes, we’ve got a pipeline of innovations on our table, but we cannot disclose the details. Please stay tuned and look forward to news from Oreo!
Q. How are you going to deepen Oreo's presence on the Georgian market? What is the company's growth strategy for Georgia?
A. Our key strategy is to be close to our Georgian consumers — both psychological and physical availability in-store, so that every consumer can find Oreo at the right place and at the right time.
Q. Please tell us what makes Oreo unique and why Georgian customers love it.
A. Oreo is not an ordinary cookie, it’s a legend. It’s also the most playful cookie and a global icon for all generations in Georgia.
Q. Not all Oreo flavors can be found in Georgia. Why?
A. At the moment we are focused on establishing and developing our core cookie business in Georgia. All the core flavors are available in the country, and we are adding new SKUs to our portfolio. The recent Double Fun launch is one example of expanding our brand portfolio in Georgia.
Q. International media write that Mondelēz International wants Oreo to become the “Coca-Cola of cookies”, and based on comments at a New York conference in March, it’s making progress. What do you think?
A. Oreo is the most famous cookie in the world, and we want our legendary cookie to figure in collaborations around the world. For example, in recent years Oreo has partnered with such global icons as Lady Gaga, Batman, Xbox etc. – we definitely want to push our brand power however high it can go.
Q. Will Mondelēz develop its cake and pastry department? What prospects do you see in this category?
A. Yes, we see a huge potential in the development of the bakery category in our countries. That is why this year we have completed the integration of the European snack maker Chipita business with its famous 7 Days croissants. We are going to increase focus on this brand in Georgia to drive growth in the pastry category.
- Thursday, 25 May 2023
- Global Economy
Premium quality, three-layer toilet paper Nua, imported and distributed by one of Georgia’s leading distribution companies, BD Plus, has become the winner of the country’s most prestigious and influential business award, the Golden Brand.
Founded in 2016, BD Plus is famous in Georgia for importing high quality products from international brands such as Ultra Compact, Happy Fresh, Olivia, Sofia, Maylo, Berrak, BEA and Nua.
Of these brands, Nua is a newcomer to the Golden Brand award, winning in the category “toilet paper - dynamic developing brand”. Over 100 experts and 2,000 surveyed customers named Nua their favorite toilet paper.
Archil Kokashvili, General Manager of BD Plus, reviewed the company’s operations in Georgia and listed the factors that led Nua to the Golden Brand awards in an interview.
Q. “Dynamically developing brand” - this is how Nua is recognized today by the customers and experts. How did you achieve this recognition?
A. First of all we want to thank our loyal customers who have great confidence in, and awareness of, our brands, including Nua. This brand reached Georgia in 2021 , so it was astonishing to many that Nua managed to become one of the leaders on the market in such a short period of time. The correct strategy and functionality of the brand played a major role in the success of the product, and today Nua is considered the favorite hygienic paper in the country.
The price and quality of Nua toilet paper make it one of the best on the market. We also have a motivated and professional team which is working around the clock to develop the brand.
Another factor is a smooth distribution of Nua throughout the country, making the brand available in every corner of Georgia.
Finally, I want to say that it is a great honor for us to receive a Golden Brand award and at the same time it is a great responsibility and challenge to fully justify such trust and support. This award is recognition of the hard work that our team has put in. We are very proud of it.
Q. How was the brand’s performance in 2022?
A. Overall 2022 can be considered successful for BD Plus, as the increase in sales compared to the previous year 2021 was 39%, and in the case of the Nua alone, its average monthly sales almost tripled. We have generated 1,630,548.70 GEL in sales in 2021 and 8,911,749.91 GEL in 2022.
Ultra Compact and BEA are the top-selling brands in our portfolio.
BD Plus is also a dynamically developing company in Georgia and the chart below demonstrates its annual growth from 2016 to 2022.
Q. What would you say about the competition in your sector, and how fast is the Georgian market growing here?
A. There is quite a high level of competition in the Georgian market. As a company involved in the distribution business, the competition creates challenges for us of course, but the higher the competition level is, the higher our motivation is. And most importantly, customers reap the benefits from this process.
As for market growth, the share of our brands is growing on the market every year.
Q. What are the challenges BD Plus faces in Georgia and what are your recommendations for improving conditions?
A. The main goal of the company is to provide customers with high-quality products at the most economical price. Unfortunately, locals make up a lesser share of sales than tourists, which hampers potential growth.
Q. Generally, how do you attract consumers?
A. We attract customers primarily by product quality, price, stable delivery and partnership attitude.
Q. Please share some future plans with us.
A. We would like to enrich our portfolio with several new brands and at the same time to develop our own brand Be Fresh.
In the future we are going to grow our “Be Fresh” portfolio with interesting products for our customers.
- Thursday, 25 May 2023
- Personal Finance
The Women Business Council in Georgia is planning to establish an entrepreneurship academy in Georgia to create opportunities for women to hone their entrepreneurial skills and knowledge.
This year the Council also plans to establish ties with women's organizations of Ukraine, Slovakia, and Serbia, and hopefully to organize a joint forum in the future, Chairwoman of WBCG Natia Meparishvili told Golden Brand.
In 2023 the WBCG plans to arrange a number of trainings and meetings in order to promote recognition of women in Georgia, to bring together women of diverse occupations, and to provide opportunities for them to grow personally and professionally.
WBCG is a membership-based non-profit organization founded in May, 2015. It works with women from diverse communities and delivers a broad range of services that inspire participants to become economically pro-active and personally fulfilled.
In this interview, Meparishvili talked about what challenges businesses face in Georgia and
especially women-led businesses, how the culture of doing business has changed in the country,
and what the WBCG’s contribution to the empowerment of women is.
Q. Please share with us the most memorable moments from the activities of WBCG of 2022.
A. 2022 turned out to be very fruitful for our organization. Together with the Association for Women Entrepreneurs' Development in Azerbaijan (AWEDA) we undertook a one-year project called “Promoting Gender Equality and Women’s Economic Empowerment on the Road to Sustainable Development: Enhance and Peer Learning”. Forty entrepreneurs received practical and professional knowledge from business experts and professional trainers. We also held a forum entitled "Women Entrepreneurs in Digital and Eco-Friendly Businesses". Under the same name we announced a competition, revealed two winners and gave them a monetary award.
Our organization visited the "International Women's Conference" held in Baku, where we reviewed the challenges and stories of female entrepreneurs, met strong women from different countries who are at war every day - and fought to break down stereotypes.
It is an important achievement that our digital event, Digital Exhibition Week of Women in Art, has become an annual event and this year it is being held for the third time. The mission of this project is to create a global platform on which female artists are given an opportunity to exhibit their art to a wide audience, and contribute to the exchange of ideas. The main goal of our project is to provide access to the works of female artists and to promote their economic empowerment.
Q. What are the rules of becoming a member of the WBCG and why young entrepreneurs should join the Council?
A. Membership in our organization is open to women entrepreneurs registered in Georgia and not residents.
This year we are launching various events to motivate our members, and our goal is to provide effective services based on the capabilities and requirements of women entrepreneurs and to advocate for them.
Q. How has the interest of female entrepreneurs changed recently towards the economy?
A. Mostly female entrepreneurs are involved in micro-, small- and medium-sized businesses. According to statistics, women are mostly self-employed, so they have the status of individual entrepreneur and micro-entrepreneur. The number of women-led startups has increased, which is very good. There has been an increase in female startups.
However, as you know, more access to finance for women is important for development. So I would like to point out that it is important to have various grant programs, even run a small and micro-business development grant program in Georgia, or various programs by financial institutions to support women entrepreneurs, which simplifies the process of taking out business loans.
Many feel it is more difficult for women to do business, and the European Union is trying to strengthen the role of women in the economy through various projects and programs. Moreover, when countries are evaluated, by economic or other development indicators, one of the important factors in giving a rating to a country is "women in business".
Q. How should the business environment be changed in Georgia so women may better succeed in their economic activities?
A. The list of needs of women entrepreneurs remains unchanged in Georgia. Achieving gender equality is an imperative of modern business. The list is quite long. I will single out access to finance and gender balance in the workplace.
We should focus more on the development of entrepreneurial skills. We and similar NGOs try to provide a variety of training, inasmuch as it helps women plan their business idea from the beginning and think about possible means of future development.
Stereotypes about female entrepreneurs have already begun to break down. Women have become interested in unconventional and unpopular professions, and have even become more accustomed to such professions as bus driver, engineering, building, and more.
Q. Overall, how has the business environment improved in Georgia and for female entrepreneurs in particular?
A. The last three years have put a heavy burden on the private sector and especially on small and medium businesses. There were unforeseen expenses that led to the needs caused by the pandemic to digitize systems and services. This was necessary to keep companies alive.
When it comes to talking about today's business environment, there are challenges, and business support organizations like ours are taking the initiative to respond to various needs.
Women entrepreneurs are the most vulnerable due to their unchanging needs. Effectively responding to the economic needs of women in business is paramount. The current environment has not improved and the challenges remain, which include access to finance and the development of practical skills and knowledge. In the case of female entrepreneurs, I would mention as an improvement the fact that women have moved into businesses that are not typical for women (logistics, construction, energy, winemaking, etc.).
Q. WBCG supported the Golden Brand Awards this year again. How would you evaluate your cooperation?
A. The Golden Brand is a gift for business people, which the private sector looks forward to every year. I have so much to say about the fantastic team behind this truly massive award show.
We are proud to cooperate with Golden Brand, which has been going for eighteen years. Every year this award ceremony gives us an opportunity for a kind of review and analysis of the various companies’ operations from the previous year. Businesses are proud to accept the award and display the Golden Brand logo.
Q. Why did you come up with the idea of helping female entrepreneurs?
A. The WBCG is a non-profit organization based on membership, the purpose of which is to popularize entrepreneurial skills in Tbilisi and the regions of Georgia, to strengthen economic opportunities for women, to organize various events (seminars, conferences, forums, etc.).
I am the co-founder and chairman of this organization for the second term. I am also an associate professor of Alte University and the author of various scientific works.
In response to your question of why I had the idea to help women entrepreneurs, I would say that the most effective way to gain independence and reduce violence against women is their economic empowerment. A financially strong woman is free in her choices and decisions.
When I was young I loved cinema, painting. I successfully mastered the desired professions, however, in real life, an “iron curtain” was erected in front of me. Due to my overly realistic nature, I made a proper assessment of the reality in which I would have to spend the coming years. I refused many attractive opportunities to continue my studies abroad, and at the same time I realized that I was refusing the desired profession in the process.
I did not stop and continued to study for my Ph. D, and soon I was transferred to the business field, then the public sector in the direction of business followed by projects with donor organizations on social and economic topics.
As soon as I was starting to talk about establishing the women's organization, many people were angry and even worried that women do not need support at all. Even women around me made such criticism.
To this day, many women think that no one has abused them, because in the opinion of many, violence includes only physical action. However, what is considered a norm for many may also be a violation of women's rights. Imagine when the career growth of a woman with much higher qualifications is very difficult and she often cannot be promoted just because she represents the
Co-founding the WBCG is a great honor for me. Although it requires a lot of effort, at the same time it creates new opportunities for others and speaks loudly about our needs and desires and, very importantly, creates a group of women who strengthen each other and are ready to share their experiences or failures at any time. Join us! Our door is open to everyone!Read more