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Indian Cosmetic Industry Gets Offline Makeover
The industry had got into online mode during lockdown as sales dipped. But now with the consumers more aware and open about offline shopping, the brands are leaving no stones unturned to expand offline
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The Indian cosmetic industry is going through a major makeover. The industry changed its garb from offline sales to online sales during the Covid period, and sales had taken a major dip. But the market has now opened again and the brands are expanding big in the offline mode. Brands which ruled the online space during Covid are now looking at expansion to Tier II cities apart from major metros.
SUGAR Cosmetics was one brand that emerged as one of the strongest brands during the lockdown. Backed by a good influencer marketing strategy, Sugar grew big through its online sales. And having tasted success online and winning the trust of Indian women and makeup artists alike, SUGAR is now expanding in offline mode, opening experiential stores in not just Tier I and Metros, but Tier II cities as well.
Vineeta Singh, Co-Founder and CEO, SUGAR Cosmetics, says “While online shopping has seen significant growth since the pandemic, most consumers in India still prefer purchasing offline. The main reasons are the feel and touch factor, as well as the overall retail experience in brick-and-mortar stores. For SUGAR Cosmetics, keeping in line with our omnichannel approach, we are placing a strong emphasis on the increase of offline distribution. Today, our products are offered in about 45,000+ retail touchpoints and 160+ brand-owned stores across 550+ cities and are furthering expansion to international markets such as the US, Russia and Nepal.”
Singh, whose brand has been one of the fastest-growing brands in India, adds, “By the end of FY24, we intend to increase this number to 100,000+ touchpoints. Even during the pandemic, we were extremely bullish on offline expansion over the previous two years, which has given us an advantage over other D2C firms that are just now pursuing offline expansion. We are also working towards making SUGAR Cosmetics available to as many people as possible and are aggressively looking at establishing our own stores in the smallest of cities. Tier 2 and tier 3 markets remain a core priority as we aim to reach out to new customers and advertise our brand in areas that do not offer contemporary trade stores and e-commerce penetration is minimal.”
Post Lockdown, Colorbar by Modicare too decided to go big on the offline mode. Samir Kumaar Modi, Founder and Managing Director, Colorbar Cosmetics, says, “In recent times, we’ve observed a considerable increase in footfall at our offline outlets, mirroring the shopping patterns of the post-pandemic consumer. In alignment with this trend, we are following suit to penetrate more markets by expanding the brand’s reach, and to do so, we have recently launched two new stores in Delhi and Gurgaon with plans to establish 200+ new outlets this financial year across General Trade, Modern Trade and Exclusive Brand Outlets. We are also planning to allocate 20% of revenue towards augmenting our foothold in India for bolstering our growth as we expand. In fact, we are constantly looking to reinvent ourselves in order to keep pace with the technological innovations in the beauty space.”
Talking about the brand’s expansion plans, Modi said, “At present, a virtual lipstick try-on service is available on our website and we provide our consumers with bespoke beauty services like personalised engravings on beauty products at our exclusive offline outlets. In addition to this, our offline stores will soon encompass advanced facial technology and immersive VR try-ons by this year. Also, as consumers have become more conscious about the implications of their choices on the world, there has been a growing interest to opt for eco-friendly products. In line with the demands, we've recently launched our sub-brand, Co-Earth which promises sustainable, performance-driven products that are gentle on the environment. The products come with the Clean Beauty Promise – they are 100 per cent naturally derived, 100 per cent vegan, 100 per cent cruelty-free, and come with zero toxins."
Boddess Beauty, which has already created a market in online mode, too has been expanding big time.
Ritika Sharma, the Founder and CEO of Boddess says, “At Boddess Beauty we have launched three stores since 2022. Our flagship stands at Ambience Gurgaon and boasts beauty services including nail and hair bars, followed by Boddess Beauty Lite stores at Jaipur and Itanagar towns targeting a tier 2 base. All our stores host popular international as well as local D2C brands like Anastasia Beverly Hills, Jeffery Star, Sulwhasoo to name a few. Since post covid, we have seen a dramatic increase in-store sales growth and foot traffic. On average we see 30% MoM growth in our store sales, with Itanagar being a hotspot for growth. This points to a pent-up demand for beauty products in the North East, with consistently higher Average Order Values and Store Productivity. There is a lot of excitement about beauty in the region. We are looking forward to expanding our brand mix and store footprint into other exciting regions across the country.”
For the consumer, the expansion is a delight as they get the best of brands in their city. Makeup Artist Priyanka Gupta said that the consumer has become more aware and this offline expansion is a boon for them, “During lockdown people got time to hone up their basic skills as they had more time and everyone wanted to look good. So the consumer is more aware and wants to experience things offline,” says Gupta.
She added that while for a second-time sale, she may prefer online buying, for base products, she always likes to buy offline and is happy to see more brands opening more stores. “No one can actually deny the happiness of experiencing live shopping of cosmetics. And when you have offline stores of some of the best brands in your vicinity, it is a double whammy,” says Gupta.