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Green is Mainstream in India

By: Priyanka Bhattacharya
Posted: December 10, 2007, from the December 2007 issue of GCI Magazine.

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The growing awareness among young Indians about health, wellness and beauty as important aspects of life translates to growth opportunities for natural beauty product manufacturers and marketers. According to a report in The Times of India, a leading Indian daily, young Indian consumers are willing to spend more on eco-friendly products and natural beauty products because they feel they are doing something beneficial for themselves. “Today, for the goodness of natural ingredients, most of our clients do not mind paying a premium. It always good to know what you are putting on your skin,” says Yatan Ahluwalia, director, Y&S Style Media, the Indian importer of organic beauty care brand Susan’s Soaps & More.

The growth of the Indian spa and eco-tourism industries is also a boon for organic beauty care companies. (See “Indian Spas,” GCI magazine June 2007 and online.) With the increasing global awareness of organic beauty, both business and tourist travellers like to pick up beauty products with natural ingredients from Indian spas and stores. In fact, Indian brands such as Forest Essentials and Khadi (an Indian government initiative to promote cottage industry that has upgraded its beauty product offerings) cater to this segment.

Sellers Market

For Indian consumers, there have always been indigenous brands built on natural-based beauty care. Multinationals’ embrace of the trend is a sign that natural and organic ingredients-based beauty products are here to stay. Over the last year, indigenous Indian natural beauty brands have also started to build brand awareness through new campaigns, redesigned product packaging and updated formulas. They all claim to offer safe, efficacious and natural solutions by synthesizing traditional Ayurvedic recipes and herbs with modern science. Dabur India, one of India’s leading fast-moving consumer goods companies, is playing up its herbal heritage to help grow its masstige personal care brand Vatika across popular product categories. “We have already built a platform for Dabur to be seen as a company with Ayurvedic heritage. Indian consumers still largely believe in using natural homemade beauty recipes,” said Vikas Mittal, vice president, personal care, Dabur India, who further notes that the company is simply offering these accepted and traditional hair care, skin care and bath products in a more convenient and portable format.

The company is in the process of expanding various product category lines under this brand with a message playing on Indian beauty traditions—“delivering the goodness of nature in a pleasurable form.” According to Mittal, all the products are specially enriched with natural extracts from herbal ingredients such as amla, henna, almond, coconut and lemon. Similarly, the brand Jovees by JR Herbals, a recently launched herbal beauty company, is making the same promise. Rakesh Misri, business head, JR Herbal Care India Limited, says that Indian consumers have become very discerning about their skin’s needs and only pick up products that offer true benefits. “At Jovees, we constantly innovate to bring out the curative properties of the natural ingredients in our products.”

Besides national brands, each regional market has its own natural beauty brands, often marketed by beauty therapists and salons, and high-end brands and retailers such as The Body Shop, Clarins, Lush and L’Occitane have made their presence felt in the market. While Lush continues to sell from Bangalore, The Body Shop is rapidly increasing its presence in every region in the country, especially in urban areas, and L’Occitane has begun opening brand stores in Mumbai and Delhi.

New Growth Areas