What Steps Plum is Taking to Stay Relevant to Consumers

Recently, Plum has raised $35 million (Rs 270 crore) in a Series C round led by A91 Partners, a leading late-stage-focused venture capital fund.
What Steps Plum is Taking to Stay Relevant to Consumers

The journey of beauty brand Plum started in 2013, with the idea to offer good, transparent, efficacious, products that cater to an evolving demographic at the right price point. Initially, the brand started with just 15 SKUs and today it has grown to over 150 products across categories. 

It largely started out as a skincare brand and now it has expanded into other categories like hair, body, makeup, and even for men, besides skincare being its forte. Over time, Plum, which started as an online brand, has a presence across offline channels including its own EBOs and around 1,000 assisted sales channels.

“At present, we have 3 EBOs, a few more are under various stages of fitouts. So by mid this year, we are aiming for 10-12 EBOs. Apart from this, we are also present in around 10,000 unassisted outlets, which hopefully will go up to 20,000 very soon,” stated Shankar Prasad, Founder, Plum Goodness. 

In terms of geography, it is present in over 250 towns and cities.

Staying Relevant

Consumer behavior is rapidly changing. The main reason behind this is the availability of information and the expectation of transparency. And to ensure transparency, when Plum started its journey, it was among the first few brands to encourage consumers to read ingredient lists.

Highlighting how brands can match the changing consumer expectations, Prasad said, “The challenge for consumers as well as for brands is not to make information available, but it's really to make the relevant and right information available and to make sense of the information that is being thrown at us. The other challenge for brands is not, to be honest, and transparent. The challenge is to really walk the talk in terms of transparency and lead the conversation and make it almost automatic and stress-free for the consumer.” 

To engage the consumers further, the brand is producing a lot of video content to educate consumers, not just about ingredients, but also about the right way to use the products. 

“So as a brand, we are just being very discerning in what we say.  We are using video and images first as an approach to communication. We are also making sure that as we scale somewhere, our touch with the individual customer is not lost. So these are some of the things that we are doing to make sure that we are relevant in this evolving space,” he asserted.

Omnichannel: The Way Forward

Plum is still a multi-channel brand and not an omnichannel brand as it is building upon the integration of customer persona, and customer history across channels including its own EBOs and D2C, which is where it has the strongest first-party data. Apart from this, Plum has a strong presence across all social commerce platforms. 

“We are putting in place technology, hopefully, this year it should be live, of being able to offer a unified experience to the customer. It could be as simple as redeeming your loyalty points anywhere to as complex as I place an order from the store and can it be combined with an order that I placed on the website and delivered to a totally different place,” he explained.

At present, 60 percent of the revenue for the brand comes from online and the rest 40 percent from offline channels.

Technology: The Game Changer

Currently, the brand has no plans to explore its presence on Metaverse. However, it is still reviewing other technological advancements like Artificial Intelligence and Virtual Reality. 

“When it comes to beauty, I think we have some way for AI and VR to be mainstreamed and brought into the purchase journey, decision-making journey of the consumer very seamlessly today, he or she may be trying it out because somebody either thrust on their face quite literally, or,  they're just curious about, discovering something which is new again, the thing is how much are people really using this technology and how representative it is of an actual application. Therefore my approach is instead of investing tons of money behind something like that, there are thankfully enough of the shelf solutions available as a service. So I don't mind paying for it if need to be rather than building it again,” he asserted.

“In the case of D2C brands, I would argue that their core product and core brand building, core channel development, and broad basing of the channel are higher priorities in my view compared to building proprietary technology. And I'm talking about somebody like us,” he further added.

Deployment of Funds

Recently, Plum has raised $35 million (Rs 270 crore) in a Series C round led by A91 Partners, a leading late-stage-focused venture capital fund. 

The round also saw participation from existing investors Unilever Ventures and Faering Capital. To date, Plum has raised over $50 million from consumer-focused institutional investors, which portends its future growth as the category leader in the new-age, D2C beauty space. 

“The latest investment will help us accelerate on our exciting growth path, not only in our core skincare category but also in adjacent large categories like hair care, makeup, body care, and specialist care for men. In doing so, we want to bring alive our brand ethos of ‘being good’ in as many different and delightful ways as possible.

Future Plans

Going ahead, the brand is focusing on becoming a complete beauty and personal care brand along with being far more data-driven in terms of scooping, as well as decision making. It will also be investing in talent at all levels across functions to address the opportunities that it has in front of it. It is looking forward to deploying capital smartly.

“We are currently at currently about Rs 250 crore annualized run rate on a year on year basis for the last four years. We have coincidentally doubled every year. Hopefully, we'll double this year also,” he stated.

“I'd be disappointed if we did not grow 8-10 x from where we are now, over the next 4-5 years,” he further added. 

This year, Plum plans to expand more, widely, and deeper in some of the markets that it has a presence in the international waters and is looking at a double-digit contribution to overall revenue from its international presence.

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