Business Strategies of World’s Successful Companies: PZ Cussons’ Winning Business Strategies

By | November 3, 07

Business Strategies of World’s Successful Companies: PZ Cussons’ Winning Business Strategies

A down-to-earth revelation of the business strategies that enabled PZ to emerge from a small business start up in the 19th century in West Africa to a leading giant in the global personal care industry.

Business Strategy 1: Begin Small and Gradually Develop Expertise

Though most aspiring entrepreneurs wrongly think starting big rather than having a small business start up is the ticket to running a successful business, the truth of it is that starting your business on a small scale is the better strategy to achieving enduring success.

The reason for this is quite simple. You will have the opportunity to learn the fundamentals of the business and build expertise at a minimal risk and under less pressure to perform.

Developing the needed expertise to achieving business success comes with a cost – these are the losses you will inevitably sustain from making wrong decisions and investments due to inexperience. These losses could even wipe out all your starting capital.

Therefore, the bigger or larger the scale you begin your business, the bigger the risk of losing the business, and vice versa.

George Paterson, originally from England and his business partner George Zochonis, Greece started a small business together in the 19th century as a trading post, called West African Merchants, in Sierra Leone.

Their business was to ship palm oil and other produce, which included palm kernels, cocoa, groundnuts, and seed cottons, in addition to animal hides and skins, to the United Kingdom, and on their way back brought in cloth from Manchester.

With this beginning strategy, they were able to gradually gain the needed expertise in doing business profitably in Africa. And before long their small business start up thrived and in 1884 they incorporated the business as Paterson Zochonis (PZ).

Also due to the expertise gained, PZ was able to latter expand into other African countries such as Nigeria in 1899.

Business Strategy 2: Consider It a Necessity to Grow Your Business

Growing your business, including the strategies to apply should be considered in your business plan.

No business can amount to enduring success without it making conscious effort to grow. You will need to increase your product line continually, diversify or acquire other businesses. Whichever strategy you decide to use, you just must plan to grow your business.

In its first 50 years of business, PZ grew steadily from a small business start up running a simple trading house into a major wholesale and retailer of general merchandise in West Africa.

Then in the late 1940s it began to tilt it growth strategy to manufacturing with the purchase of a small soap factory in Nigeria (owned by PB Nicholls & Co). PZ continued to ensure it didn’t stop growing when in 1975 it made one of the best business moves in its history by acquiring Cussons.

Business Strategy 3: Continually Expanding Your Business Is Another Necessity

Just as you need to grow your business, you must also expand it. You have to put fear aside and find new markets in other lands or regions which you may eventually discover provide huge revenue for your business.

PZ’s business success is undoubted hinged on its expansionist strategy that saw it entering Liberia, French Guinea, Cameroon, the Gold Coast, Ghana and Nigeria in the 1950s.

Again, through the 1980s it took its business into Kenya (1983), Thailand (1986) and Indonesia in 1987, bringing in massive revenue from these regions.

Business Strategy 4: A Strong Understanding of Your Market Will Help You Take the Right Step

A business strategy you cannot overlook if you desire the success of your business is having a clear and strong understanding of your market.

This is a great ‘asset’ to have because you will be able to quickly identify changes in the market for opportunity to create products/services and deliver them the exact way consumers would like. And what a surer way to grab consumers’ minds than this?

In the late 1960s, because of its deep knowledge and understanding of the African market, PZ was able to observe a rapid growth in population in Africa and the development of a consumer market.

With this understanding the company could take position to benefit big time by expanding its manufacturing operations.

Business Strategy 5: Be Unique And Creative

Successful businesses are those which stand out from the pack. People easily identify and give you attention when you are unique, original and creative. Whether it is in product development or marketing, being distinct makes a great impact on consumers’ minds.

Imperial Leather, Cusson’s flagship product which became PZ’s after PZ purchased Cusson in 1975 was undoubtedly the best selling soap brand in England for decades.

This feat was achieved because of Imperial Leather’s unique features which included a distinctive fragrance, novel packaging, and a badge that remained visible to the end of the bar’s use.

Business Strategy 6: Exploring More Opportunities Through Diversification

It’s a good business strategy to use your expertise and resources in seeking promising opportunities in other business sectors. This helps you launch into more lucrative markets, use your resources or facilities to their optimum capacity, thereby strengthening your revenue base.

Sensing the huge demand for olive oils, margarine and cooking fat in the regions it was already doing business, and seeing it could use its existing structures and resources well to support the inclusion of a new business to exploit the identified opportunity, PZ diversified into the manufacture and marketing of olive oils, margarine and cooking fats in 1977 by purchasing Minerva, an Athens based company founded in 1902.

This move resulted in huge revenue for PZ as Minerva was exporting its products to Africa, North America, Australia and the other parts of Europe.

Business Strategy 7: Don’t Lose Focus on Your Core Business

As your business grows and expands, there is the tendency to get involved in so many unrelated and unprofitable businesses that can remove your attention from your major business, causing it to sink.

You must therefore watch it to ensure your core business remain thriving, else you lose your position in the market place to smart competitors.

The 2000s saw PZ unfolding a strategy to focus more strongly on its core business – personal care products – which it emphasized by changing its name to PZ Cussons in 2002 and acquiring new businesses such as the original Source Brand in 2003 and Charles Worthington, a hair care specialist, in 2004.


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