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India Quarterly: Lauder Buys Stake in Forest Essentials

Priyanka Bhattacharya

The Estée Lauder Companies announced its purchase of a minority stake in a privately held Indian company that manufactures, markets and sells beauty products under the Forest Essentials brand, which is based on ayurvedic formulations.

In an interview, Sonia Michon, vice president and regional director, The Estée Lauder Companies, said that Forest Essentials gives the company a stronger presence due to the brand’s already strong presence in India’s premium skin care market. Also, the move will help Lauder create brand recognition with Indian consumers and build credence with affiliations to nature-based products. For its part, Lauder will help Forest Essentials in building a reputation as a high-end luxury brand and gaining international presence.

“We are delighted to gain The Estée Lauder Companies’ brand-building and marketing expertise, which will help take Forest Essentials to the next level,” said Mira Kulkarni, CEO, Forest Essentials. “We look forward to expanding our unique brand, which harnesses an age-old holistic philosophy to create a new beauty ideal.” Lauder is also getting aggressive in making its presence felt by opening freestanding stores in strategically chosen retail environments. It opened its second store in India, a boutique in Bangalore’s premier luxury mall, The Collection at UB City. During the next three years, Lauder plans to open 20 locations and expand into Hyderabad, Pune and Kolkata. In the coming six months, Estée Lauder will open two freestanding stores in Delhi, as well.

Natural Makeup Heats Up

The Indian color cosmetics market is seeing a drastic change. With the increasing demand for color cosmetics, some herbal brands are launching makeup colors claimed to consist of up to 95% natural ingredients and extracts. Two popular mass ayurvedic brands, Lotus Herbals and Ayur Herbals, have introduced natural color cosmetics.

While the trend for nature-based cosmetics is not really new, the market is gaining mass consumer attention. Brands such as Shahnaaz Husain and Biotique were already offering natural eyeliners, lipsticks and mascaras, but they did not see mass acceptance in India. The ranges also tended to be very limited. In fact, Husain lipsticks and kohl pencils found more shelf appeal to consumers in Europe.

Now, however, the scenario is shifting. Ayur and Lotus have introduced natural foundations, blushers and powders—products that traditionally are chemical based. And the brands are serious about the amount of natural and herbal extracts that go into them. For instance, to be able to provide a higher percentage of natural extracts and colors in its products, Ayur Herbals has partnered with National Botanical Research Institute in Lucknow to work on the extraction process of natural pigments from herbs. Non-Indian brands are also increasing their efforts. The Body Shop, for example, is seeing a level of success with its natural extract based makeup colors in India. Company sources claim that its marula oil-based lip products and blushes are very popular with the Indian clientele.

Professional Beauty Expands

Seeing the impressive response to the last two Professional Beauty & Fitness India exhibitions held in Delhi, organizer Expomedia Events India organized two additional exhibitions—one to be held in Delhi in November and one in Mumbai in September. The Franchising Association of India (FAI), the Indo-German Chamber of Commerce and the Birmingham Chamber of Commerce & Industry support the Delhi exhibition. The Mumbai edition was supported by FAI and the All India Small Scale Cosmetic Manufacturers Association (AISSCMA).

In conjunction with the exhibition, the National Hairdressers and Beauticians Association conducted the national level “Beauty & Style—Full Fashion Look Competition.” ITEC, the U.K. education partner, held master classes for beauty professionals. The Delhi edition also hosted the “Beauty & Style—Full Fashion Look” competition, featuring designers, hair stylists and makeup artists. The sparkling event provides ample opportunity, to all involved, to promote their product and expertise to the industry and maximize their media coverage. Participating exhibitors include companies based in the U.K., Germany, Belgium, Malta, Spain, Taiwan, China, Vietnam, France, the U.S. and India.

The Body Shop Shares New Beauty Message

Well known as a company that promotes beauty as a business that has power to do good for communities and replenish what it takes from nature, The Body Shop has announced its new mantra, “Nature’s Way To Beautiful.” The company recently initiated this message in all its shops and product promotions in India. The company has focused on tackling the impact of palm oil harvesting on natural rain forests, and is working to spread awareness about utilizing palm oil—a major additive in soaps—from sustainable sources.

In India, the company launched its Bag For Life totes, made from organically grown cotton made in India by a Community Trade Supplier working under The Body Shop Community Trade Program. The funds from every purchase in India will benefit marginalized children in the country.

To further promote its message, the company has launched the Wellbeing range, based on specific aromatherapy treatments. The products are made from community trade ingredients that promote the well being of a community, and the range includes Total Energy, Deep Sleep, Gently Purify and Divine Calm.

Arden Offers In-salon Treatments

While the company is far from opening a Red Door Spa in the country, Elizabeth Arden is testing the waters for its facials and salon services, and has recently partnered with the Delhi-based beauty salon Hairloom to offer Elizabeth Arden facials to its clients. According to sources at Baccarose, the Indian distributor for Elizabeth Arden, the salon will use retail size products to offer the treatments. Currently facials will utilize Arden products such as White Glove, Ceramides and its basic skin care range. Despite a premium price range, both the company and salon are confident that women in Delhi are ready for high-end facials. The salon will also retail the products. Pending the acceptance of these treatments, Baccarose will look at bringing the Red Door Spa into the country.

Strides in Hair Color

Since hair colors have caught on in the Indian market, and with more and more consumers leaving their traditional methods of covering grey behind, Indian brands are now looking at launching their own hair color lines. Godrej Consumer Products, for example, has sold traditional hair dyes but is now focusing on expanding its product portfolio into the mid-priced hair color segment. This is a part of its strategy to cement its position in the hair color category instead of competing with L’Oréal’s brands, which are growing in popularity.

Godrej Consumer Products is gearing up its research and development investments toward developing newer technologies in mid-price hair color segment. In fact, the new range is expected to transfer the powder hair dye users to basic hair colorants. For the company, hair color is the second biggest business for the company, accounting for 23% of its net sales in its last fiscal year.

Priyanka Bhattacharya is a writer and journalist covering the beauty, health and wellness industries in India. She is the contributing beauty features writer for several leading Indian women’s magazines.

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