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India Quarterly: Indian Market Attracting Natural and Herbal-based Brands

By: Priyanka Bhattacharya
Posted: April 30, 2009, from the May 2009 issue of GCI Magazine.

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The brands have undertaken a strategy to launch targeted products that address breakage and hair loss—a strategy that fits well with the needs of the Indian market. Since Indian women love to sport medium to long hair, hair fall (i.e., how hair lies naturally) and breakage are major issues with them, and they are now looking beyond shampoos to retain their manes.

In addition, consumer awareness and usage patterns have changed drastically over the last two years. Previously, hair care for both Indian women and men meant oil massage and shampoo, but now more and more users have started adding conditioners to their hair care regimen. And as chemical treatments for hair increase, so does the need for specialized products. Recently Dove and Pantene both launched home care products that included a hair mask and leave-in serum, in addition to shampoo and conditioner. While women in India are still wary of using too much styling product on their hair, they do like to use hair serums as a way to tame frizz and improve shine. In addition to multinationals, Indian brands—Dabur and Habibs Hair Cosmetics, notably—have also launched hair serums that meet this changing consumer desire.

The Body Shop Slashes Prices for Indian Consumers

Because the Indian market remains one of the fastest growing, The Body Shop, an already popular brand in India, is gearing up to take advantage of the opportunity to grow a market that’s been relatively immune to the global downturn. The company has announced price reductions of approximately 20% in response to a buying slowdown in the market, as well as consumer feedback, and is aggressive about increasing its footprint across the country. The Body Shop is now focusing on its presence in the western part of the country, especially Mumbai. In late 2009, the company will shift its focus toward the southern part of the country by opening stores in Chennai and Hyderabad.

Despite the price cuts, the company insists that it will retain its upmarket tag in the region, and will simply make it easier on the pocket for its buyers. The price cut strategy is also a way to pull newer customers into its stores.

Nivea Bullish on Indian Market

After making big news with its men’s skin-whitening range of products for the Indian market, Nivea India is now tapping into the growing beauty awareness among Indian women. In a recent report by AC Nielsen, Nivea’s skin-whitening range for women, Nivea Visage Sparkling Glow, has moved up in market share and is offering competition to established players such as Garnier, Ponds and Olay. The skin-whitening market currently is the fastest growing market segment, at an annual growth rate of 85%.