India Quarterly: Estée Lauder Sets Up Shop In Mumbai

After introducing two of its leading brands (MAC Cosmetics and Clinique) to the Indian market in 2007, The Estée Lauder Companies has opened its first company-owned brand store in Mumbai. The company has ambitious Indian expansion plans in the country, with store openings scheduled for Bangalore (in August) and Delhi (two by October).

Sonia Michon-Floc’hlay, vice president and regional director, Estée Lauder, said that the company plans to be aggressive in expanding its business across the country, and will look at other potential markets—such as Hyderabad, Pune and Kolkata. Further, she stated the company plans to have a presence in 20 locations within the next three years.

Keeping in mind the country’s price-conscious consumers, the company is redefining its retail strategy for India. For its department store customers, it will add lower priced, entry-level products while featuring and emphasizing customer service and higher-valued products in premium stores.

According to ASSOCHAM (Association of Chamber of Commerce), per-capita expenditure per year on international branded cosmetics products is just $0.68 in India, half that of China’s $1.50. However, the Indian cosmetic market, according to their numbers, is poised to grow from $950 million in 2008 to $1.4 billion during the next two years. The organized cosmetics market in India is growing at a healthy 25%, the ASSOCHAM study indicates.

In a further effort to cater to the Indian market, The Estée Lauder Companies has brought in India-specific colors and products (such as Double Wear liquid and powder foundation) developed specifically for Indian skin tones. Jewels of Summer—a color collection created by Aerin Lauder, senior vice president and creative director—will also be heavily featured in the company’s India introductions.

Revlon Launches Pro Hair Color Products in India

With the growing popularity of hair color in the Indian market, Modi Revlon—a joint venture between UK Modi Group and Revlon, USA—has forayed into India’s professional hair color market. “While internationally Revlon has sold its professional beauty range, in India, Modi Group has decided to retain the business and launch products in the category,” said Deepak Bhandari, marketing director, Modi Revlon.

The company has launched 21 shades, along with shampoos, conditioners and post color salon care products. The products have been specially formulated at Modi Revlon’s Indian manufacturing plant, and are based on its expertise in serving the retail hair color market with brands such as Revlon ColorSilk and Care & Colour. The products are targeted at A, B+ and B category salons across the country. In the first phase of the launch, the company will evaluate the potential in 35 cities and 5,000 salons. In the second phase, the company plans to expand its product line to include after care and in-salon retail products.

Revlon is expecting to grow 10% in the professional category in the first year of launch.

H2O Plus Realigns Indian Business

In 2007, H2O Plus saw its business in India decline as customers were wooed by new Indian brands or newly introduced foreign brands. The company responded by shutting down retail outlets and counters. In order to revive its previous success in the Indian market, H2O Plus—along with its Indian distributor, Sports Station India Pvt Ltd—is redefining its business plans.

“First, we are emphasizing the water-based nature of our products,” said Scott O’Shea, vice president, business development, H2O Plus. “We are promoting all over again the concept of using sea-based products. We are talking about how the sea-mineral complex from H2O Plus is similar to human body composition.”

The company has now begun to increase its presence through stand-alone stores, drug store positioning and a presence in department stores. “From 80 doors today, we will go to 200 doors by the end of this year,” said O’Shea.

In fact, in its stand-alone stores, the brand has also started an in-store mini spa concept. “This will let Indian men and women understand the efficacy of our claims,” said Puneet Verma, general manager, H2O Plus, Sports Station. The company is also providing rigorous training to its beauty advisor team to be able to push the products in the right manner, which is expected to encourage repeat buying.

The company is banking on evolved skin care habits of Indian men and women. “Since we are water-based and oil free, we are a hit with the Indian consumers. Indian skin is combination to oily, so most women look for non-sticky, fast-absorbing products. H2O Plus gives them that,” explains O’Shea.

L’Oréal Professionnel Gives Expert Advice

To provide an education refresher for its salon partners in Bangalore, Chennai and Kolkata, L’Oréal Professionnel sponsored the artistic duo Nick Bland and Steve Probert of the U.K.’s Haringtons Hairdressing to present a three-day Look & Learn event. The duo trained the hairdressers in techniques to address the spring/summer 2008 hair fashion forecasts. Apart from showcasing trendsetting cuts and coloring techniques, Bland and Probert also interacted with local hairstylists and discussed coloring techniques, focusing on the chestnut, brunettes and mahogany—shades that best complement Indian skin tones.

Antiaging Market Booming

Companies doing business in the antiaging product segment in India are smiling all the way to the bank. According to a recent AC Nielsen study of the Indian antiaging market, it is growing at 93% per annum. The market today stands at approximately $15 million, 2% of the total skin care market. The tremendous growth rate is due to a change in consumer buying patterns.

The women’s age group purchasing antiaging went from an average of 35 to 25, and male buyers are also looking for solutions toward younger skin. This has led brands such as Pond’s to re-launch antiaging skin care ranges. Other products with antiaging claims—including makeup and eye care—are also seeing growth.

Today, antiaging is no longer a prescriptive but a preventive product category. According to P&G, which addresses the antiaging market with Olay Total Effects, its antiaging lines have been a hit with younger girls who want a glowing skin, as well as older women.

The Body Shop Taps Into Vegetarianism

With Indian consumers showing a strong preference for using all things natural, The Body Shop in India has found a happy ground to sell. Since its entry in the market in 2006, the brand (sold by Indian distributor Quest retail) has seen a steady growth.

“Many Indian consumers have been buying The Body Shop products, either from the unorganized market here or during their travels abroad,” said Sameer Prasad, COO, Quest Retail. “So when we set up shop, women flocked to the stores, since they already were addicted to our products.”

In India, the brand is being promoted as a 100% vegetarian brand, a key selling pitch for India’s huge base of vegetarian consumers. In terms of pricing, Prasad claims that the brand has been able to keep the range affordable for the masstige consumer. “We have tried to absorb some of the customs duty that’s levied on imported products here,” added Prasad. Already in large cities, the company is now looking at migrating to tier-2 towns that have good buying capacity.

Toni&Guy Launches label.m in India

Looking to cater to the growing demand for salon style hair care and styling products in the Indian market, British hair dressing brand Toni&Guy has launched its premium, organic hair care and styling brand label.m in India.

According to Toni Mascolo, chairman, Toni&Guy, the brand has been designed by a team of hairdressers that works under its new hair care concept: “From Catwalk to Client.” In India, the company is promoting the organic and nature-based product positioning, tapping into Indian’s preference for all things natural.

The company expects a good response from the market as it positions 40 products in the top salons across the country. “Even as we launch here, we are flooded with requests from salons to use and retail our products. But we are going slow, and will be available in high-end salons in all the major cities,” said Mascolo.

The company is also looking to open Toni&Guy salons in the country. It is currently in the process of scouting the right hairdressers who can be trained in the brand’s concept and execution.

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.

More in Consumers & Markets