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The Body Shop Gets Closer to Mass Market in India

By: Priyanka Bhattacharya
Posted: March 8, 2011, from the March 2011 issue of GCI Magazine.

The Body Shop India strives to deepen its connection with its customers by touting its eco-friendly and socially responsible efforts, as well as promoting hero products.

The iconic British skin care brand and retailer The Body Shop has set its sights on India with a fresh approach, helping it get closer to the country’s consumers and leverage its brand recall in the market. India is a key market for The Body Shop, in terms of growth potential and size. Due to India’s connection with natural beauty products, it has relevance even at a brand level for The Body Shop. The company’s ranges—it has more than 1,200 products available there—have been doing extremely well in India, and that is why the company is targeting the country for a 10-times growth rate in the next five years. By 2015, The Body Shop plans to touch the lives of 15 million people in India.

Talking about the connection Indian buyers have with The Body Shop, The Body Shop International CEO Sophie Gasperment says, “The brand awareness is very high here. It genuinely resonates with the consumers here, and we found the fit spontaneously. This is because we are nature inspired, and use natural and organic ingredients as much as possible. Our community trade initiatives have also helped build the brand across the globe and give back to the marginalized communities. People here know that The Body Shop stands for a certain value and is an ethical brand. They appreciate the fact that our products are 100% vegetarian.”

In fact, The Body Shop India is an extremely fast-growing venture, registering 30–40% growth every year. According to the company, in The Body Shop’s Asia-Pacific awards in 2010, The Body Shop India New Delhi Select City Mall won “Best Performing Individual Store” and The Body Shop India won “Best Performing Market.”

To be more aggressive in the market, where a new foreign brand enters every other week, The Body Shop has lowered its prices by as much as 35%, and Gasperment stresses this price adjustment has had a very positive impact for the company, resulting in increases in volume sales. It’s caused price-conscious Indian consumers to find a further connection with the brand. “We have continued to communicate the lower-pricing message very aggressively across all our stores, which has been a success for us. We feel that this has been the right decision to continue the expansion of [The Body Shop] in India. We want to make [The Body Shop] the most accessible foreign brand to Indian consumers,” Gasperment explains.

That is why Gasperment and her Indian team are focusing in a big way on extending and expanding the brand’s reach across the country, as well as on establishing a footprint to India’s second and third tier cities. The company already has more than 50 stores in the country, and Gasperment plans to add 100 new locations in the next two years. “We want to be the one-stop beauty shop for the Indian consumers. We have found a great connection with the young consumers,” she says, and, in fact, the company reports its expansion is, in addition to touching consumers, is also having a positive impact on the employment rate in the country.