Over the recent years, the coming up of hypermarkets and related format stores has changed the way products are offered to customers. It has also changed the entire shopping experience for the Indian customer. India is emerging as an important segment, especially when we refer to skin care. The grey area remains to be lack of product knowledge and access, given that there is disposable income to invest. The category is emerging to be a whole new discipline or sector in the making, which needs some conscious understanding. While ordinarily, people look out for beauty and wellness products, etc in lifestyle stores, hypermarkets and grocery stores have emerged to be the latest hot options.
Chennai-based unisex beauty salon chain, Naturals Beauty, recently entered into an agreement with Bharti Retail Private Limited, which teamed up with global retail brand Walmart for its retail foray to set up salons inside EasyDay stores. The stores are compact hypermarket stores operated by Bharti Retail. Currently, Naturals has 130 salons, of which 124 are in south, while six are in non-southern markets, including Pune, Ahmedabad, Nagpur, Bhopal, Bhubaneswar and Kolkata. Naturals Beauty will start the salon in three EasyDay stores – Vaishali in Delhi, Nasik and Aurangabad. The company further plans to be present in all the 250 EasyDay stores across the country.
Naturals aims at providing services like reflexology, neck massage, nail art, hair spas, clipper cuts and many other value added services, which focus on price and quality. While the hair cuts for men cost between Rs 99 and Rs 199, hair cuts for women range from Rs 199 to Rs 599.
Big Bazaar, the hypermarket format of Kishore Biyani-led Future Group, also houses Star & Sitara, a shop-in-shop for wellness, beauty and salon.
Jawed Habib Hair and Beauty Limited, which offers hair and beauty care services under two different salon brands – Jawed Habib Hair & Beauty and Jawed Habib HairXpreso – plans to raise Rs 60 crore through IPO and has filed DRHP with SEBI for the same. Naturals Beauty Salon India Private Limited is planning to raise Rs 100 crore PE funding for expansion.
Very recently, Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) and FMCG major Hindustan Unilever Ltd got into a tie-up for setting up a chain of beauty and wellness formats across the country. The aim remains to bring these products to the masses. Reliance aims to expand the beauty and wellness market, which has a beauty tag to it and is targeting to portray HUL products in an experiential zone and not in an aisle format. Reliance plans to offer a beauty and wellness section targeting women, men and health, as well as a unisex section. The same is set to be spread across 2,000 sq ft area. It is a retail initiative, aiming to make the customer experience more beneficial and enriching.
The beauty and wellness formats are expected to start in Reliance Hypermarkets in May, beginning in Mumbai, expanding to about 35 hypermarkets and supermarkets across the country within 90 days (the first phase of three months). Reliance plans to open a mart every week, aiming to add this format in each store. Reliance is witnessing an increase of 25-30 per cent in products, which implies going from 1,400 products to 2,000 products.
Sharing his take on leveraging on the EasyDay brand, C K Kumaravel, Co-Founder and MD, Naturals Beauty Salon India Pvt Ltd, says, “It is a very compelling business proposition, having negotiated the rentals at a very nominal rate. They have given us a very upfront, high visibility space and there are enough promotional activities in coordination with EasyDay like Friday Facial, Wednesday Waxing, Thursday Threading, etc. Apart from that, there are posters at billing counters, standees, etc. More services and offers will be introduced on a day-to-day basis. We also aim at getting new franchise partners from north India.” Naturals is aiming at 46 salons in Delhi and NCR, of which 38 are expected to be standalone stores, while the remaining will be shop-in-shops.
Commenting on the revenue sharing strategy with EasyDay, Kumaravel says, “We will be paying 15 per cent to EasyDay.” With regards to the Naturals shop-in-shop formats, he says, “We are starting with three and aim to be present across 250 EasyDay outlets in the next three years.”
Referring to the marketing initiatives for the tie-up, Kumaravel says, “It is predominantly the ability to convert the customers walking into the EasyDay stores. We are doing ATL activities like hoardings, radio, PR events, etc. We aim at appealing to 60 per cent of the EasyDay walkins, developing the right connect.” EasyDay has approximately 5,000 walk-ins on weekends and 3,000 walk-ins on weekdays and Naturals aims for 2-3 per cent conversion rate from the same on a monthly basis.
Jawed Habib, Proprietor, Jawed Habib HairXpreso, says, “With so many footfalls in hypermarkets in comparison to the traditional standalone store/salon, it is only natural for us to offer our services in hypermarkets by way of opening more salons there.” Currently having 325 salons and academies spread across India, Habibs is looking at a bright future of expanding further nationally and internationally.
Habib adds, “The response to Jawed Habib Hair & Beauty Salons (JHHBL) salons has been great. We have worked hard on perfecting our hair and beauty services; for this, we have taken care to train our hair stylists in the latest trends and techniques. Competitive prices, deals with various media and competitive ad-costs for our franchisees are a part of our marketing strategy. We provide competitive prices as and when the situation demands, depending on location, festival seasons, etc.” He says, “Every hypermart is positioned as a destination store where they try to align home, work and play sections all under one roof. Hence, there is a need for a salon as customers demand it. This need is met through our marketing initiatives.”
An industry insider explained that hypermarkets are bigger in terms of providing dedicated sections for beauty and wellness formats. Reliance’s deal with HUL is based on consumer need and HUL’s vast experience in the field. Rob Cissell, CEO-Value Formats, Reliance Retail, says, “Beauty and Wellness is one of the fastest growing categories in the personal care segment. The Indian consumer is very discerning and increasingly spending more on personal grooming and health related products. However, limited choice, poor accessibility and lack of guidance at the point of sale have been real constraining factors. Our partnership with HUL is aimed at making beauty and wellness products available to everyone, supporting our Reliance value of ‘bettering the lives of Indians every day’."
In-store services like beauty salons are an effective way to make customers spend more time in-store and consequently spend more money. The Smartstyle Salon chain is an exclusive salon company, which does business only in Walmart stores. It provides a full range of hair care services for the whole family at affordable prices. Unlike other no-appointment salons, SmartStyle offers a full range of services in order to satisfy the individual needs of everyone in the family. The hair services include colour, highlights/lowlights and the hair specialties are offered for children, men and women.
Back in 2011, Europe's second largest grocer, Tesco, had confirmed plans to launch a chain of beauty parlours. Tesco has trialed the concept of in-store beauty salons, offering an array of treatments from manicures to eyebrow threading, at three of its supermarkets in the UK. John Lewis, the department store chain, also announced plans to open in-store spas offering manicures, pedicures, and eyebrow tinting.
Europe's largest grocer, Carrefour, attempted at reviving its ailing hypermarkets by reorganising them into large format multi-specialty grocery stores under the Carrefour Planet banner since 2010. These feature additional in-store services, including a hairdressing unit and a creche.
As a result, it is understood that supermarkets and hypermarkets are attempting to enhance their service offerings as they differentiate from competition and revive sales growth in larger format stores.