One size does not fit all anymore! Consumer preferences are changing at a rapid pace with changing times. Today, shoppers are looking to personalise their beauty and nutrition buys to fit their individual needs and lifestyle choices. They are also very picky about what goes into their product, stressing on safe manufacturing processes that are environmentally friendly.
“Until a decade ago, Indian consumers were led by fancy names and packaging. But today, they are much more informed about the harmful effects of chemicals that are present in almost all personal care brands. With easy access to information on the internet, consumers are educating themselves about various brands in the market and what will work best for them. Across India, millennial consumers are becoming increasingly conscious and are looking for safe natural alternatives to replace the existing cosmetic products being offered by large multinationals,” says Ghazal Alagh, Co-founder, Mamaearth.
The brand is now moving towards natural, clean, vegan, and toxin-free product solutions.
As per a recent survey by Euromonitor, 67 percent of Indian consumers identify themselves as environmentally conscious, preferring natural and recyclable products. Also, Gen Z and Millennials are now key driving factors of this industry and are influencing household brand purchasing decisions.
Understanding the buzz and to further occupy the prime space in audience minds, startups like Super Smelly, Auravedic and Mamaearth are bringing toxin free, natural and organic products to the mainstream market.
These personal care startups are driven by innovation and use the best of science and Ayurveda to meet all personal care needs of young, aspirational and increasingly conscious Indian consumers. They also bring a spirit of constant innovation and in-depth research and customer feedback into every single product.
“Auravedic has been a pioneer in introducing face oils for all types of skin concerns, ranging from dark spots to pigmentation, fine lines and even dark circles,” states Amrita Bhatia, Founder, Auravedic.
“We started our journey with one of the most innovative products in the deodorant category ever – India’s first and only Australia certified spray deodorant. So far we have only seen safe ineffective deodorant formats which are safe but not suitable for our tropical climate – roll-ons, cream sticks or deodorant creams – but never a spray formulation which is 100 percent toxin-free certified by SCA and naturally derived with skin superfoods like tea tree oil, aloe vera and witch hazel,” says Dipali Mathur, CEO & Co-Founder, Super Smelly.
Innovation has now become a part of DNA of these brands and in the coming years they plan to launch new products, enter new categories and use the right ingredients based on consumer feedbacks.
“From the day we launched, we have listened to our consumers and provided products which they were looking for. This led us to develop & launch over 100 products in under three years. In the baby care segment, some of the most innovative products developed by us include India’s first Bamboo Based Baby Wipes, Easy Tummy Roll On with Hing & Fennel for Colic and Digestion Relief and 100 percent natural plant-based toothpaste for children between 0-10 years. After diversifying into hair and skin care segment, we noticed that our consumers were using onion juice as the ultimate household remedy for hair loss. That’s when we launched our onion range of hair care products and saw phenomenal results,” Alagh asserts.
We’ve recently launched the BhringAmla range of hair care products that contain oil made with 4,000-year-old Kshirpak Process. The product range consists of hair oil, shampoo, conditioner, and hair mask made from an Ayurvedic blend of Bhringraj, Amla, and many other herbs,” she adds.
“We are using Semi-AI (artificial intelligence) to marry our brands with technology. With this, we are interacting with our customers at every stage, from welcome to exit, and also educate them about products and brand. At each step, we offer exclusive offers to our customers. After applying Semi-AI, we saw an increase of 30 percent in our daily sales,” adds Mathur.
Advertising – Targeting the Right Consumer
The advertising campaigns of these brands are devised around real people and focusing on their problems to engage the customers who develop a strong connection with these brands.
“We are a digital-first brand, targeted at the millennial generation. Our advertising campaigns are purely focused on digital content. We want consumers to read about the problems that our products solve and why our products are the best in the market. We work with bloggers and social media influencers to reach our target audience through word-of-mouth,” states Alagh.
“Wherever consumer preferences have shifted, advertising spend has adjusted in response. Though, to make a mark in consumer minds, we have done radio and influencer campaigns to increase brand awareness,” adds Mathur.
Surviving the Pandemic
During the initial days of COVID-19, these startups were also hit by a manufacturing slowdown, however, they bounced back soon.
“We have seen an increased demand for our products. There has been a 20 percent increase after lockdown,” Bhatia states.
“In May, we achieved the same sales number as in January-February this year. June saw growth on all channels (e-commerce, brand’s website and offline stores) as compared to the pre-COVID days,” says Alagh along the same lines.
Businesses are prioritizing survival for now, but in the future will have to find new ways of brand building. The pandemic has caused brands of all sizes to rethink the types of strategies they implement for the smooth running of the business.
“For our effective supply chain, we shifted our supplies towards multiple delivery partners with reduced charges and timely delivery. Effective manpower management was implemented to handle the operations and logistics with social distancing and sanitized work areas,” states Mathur.
What Lies Ahead?
These brands plan to disrupt the market by innovating at their own pace. They are looking forward to introducing natural, environment-friendly, functional Ayurvedic products which appeal to consumer demands for mindful, healthy and individuality-focused products.
“We are working on a plan to identify what value means to our customers as they establish new purchasing routines. This requires going back to the drawing board and identifying what additional value can be offered across each of the four P’s (product, price, promotion and place) and taking a fresh and broader approach to each,” Bhatia says.
“New product launches are surely the key pillar for the brand’s growth. We will keep innovating with new categories and product ranges. Even during the COVID crisis, we managed to launch an extensive new range of products with the power of Vitamin C. These are some of the 15+ products that we’ve launched in the last 3 months. We will keep innovating and expanding our reach in each of the personal care categories,” concludes Alagh.