Q&A with Mr. Tommanny Tan, President, FERN Inc. on Channel Innovation

Q1: Not many people know your history, but you actually took over FERN  Inc. as a turnaround operation. Please tell us about your early days.

We Bring Prosperity to Every Home by Tapping the Entrepreneur in Every Filipino.

This is the vision, which the pioneers of FERN Inc. had when they first started in 2003. We envisioned uplifting the lives of Filipinos away from poverty and into prosperity. Rather than rely on dole outs and charity, FERN encourages Filipinos to create wealth by becoming confident entrepreneurs and business builders.

I was inspired by this vision; that is why I invested in FERN. Back then, FERN was just starting out as a networking and direct selling company that sold apparel. The problem was, there was no unique and innovative products or a stable marketing plan. FERN had a good vision, but it needed to be supported with good execution.

When we saw a good market potential for non-acidic (Sodium Ascorbate) Vitamin C, we decided to pull out the other products and just focus on FERN-C.

Q2: After you shifted to a single product, your growth was phenomenal. What was the tipping point that triggered the fast growth? How do you plan to sustain the fast growth?

People realized the need for FERN-C. They saw that Vitamin C is a critical part of one’s daily supplement, since Vitamin C supports over 300 metabolic functions of the body. In 2004, when the SARS and Avian Flu scare came up, people found out that FERN-C was effective in boosting body resistance against the viruses.

Because of the popularity of Vitamin C, a lot of FERN-C competitors have come up.  They tried to copy what we did and ride on this high demand, but people stayed loyal to the FERN-C brand because they realized the difference.

What makes FERN-C stand out is the difference in source. Our Vitamin C comes from high-quality natural sources in Europe. It is manufactured using the strictest standards, by DSM Switzerland. While others may come from questionable sources, FERN-C has the Quali-C guarantee of Quality, Traceability, and Reliability. We are fully confident of the benefits found in every capsule of FERN-C.

The consumers appreciate the product as being trustworthy and of high quality, so we have a product that is truly beneficial for health and wellness. Apart from this, FERN also offers a profitable business with a simple business plan. Eventually, consumers taking FERN-C become not just believers of Non-Acidic Vitamin C, but also become start-up entrepreneurs as well.

In 2007, we reached the billion-peso mark in terms of sales. Our wealth is our people. That’s why we take care of our members and employees. We give them quality training to improve their skills and talents in entrepreneurship.

To sustain the company’s continuous growth and success, we continue to introduce innovative, quality products to the market. Aside from FERN-C, we have FERN-Slim, a natural supplement for weight management; FERN Coffee, a coffee mix with eight vitamins and minerals; and FERN i-flex, a special rosehip supplement that makes joints feel ten years younger.

Q3: You do not have relationships with doctors and drugstores. As such, a network marketing approach was a natural option. But after you became the leader in non-acidic sodium ascorbate, why did you allow your distributors to enter the retail store channels?

Because FERN-C is such a high-quality product, doctors began prescribing it to their patients. This caused a chain reaction, as drugstores then wanted the products on their shelves. This popularity and demand helped boost our networkers’ businesses. FERN networkers became an important part of distribution and sales. They became the link between the company and the market.  We harnessed the power of the network, and those who believed were handsomely rewarded.

Our strategy is by making FERN products attainable through different channels. However, there is a significant difference in the price of the products when one is a FERN member as compared to being just an ordinary consumer. Although FERN products are meant for everyone, there is, of course, a sense of privilege, entitlement, and benefit from being a FERN Member. We want to keep that as an advantage for our members. And with it of course, comes other benefits such as quality training, member support, and incentives.

Through our quality products and our stable marketing plan, it is not far off that FERN will be able to complete its mission of eradicating poverty by tapping the potential of each Filipino as entrepreneurs, and time will come that the company’s vision of spreading prosperity will be reached.

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