In FY23, Plum, a vegan beauty and personal care brand, has achieved remarkable growth, nearly doubling its performance compared to FY22. Looking ahead, it has ambitious plans for the current year, aiming to achieve a growth rate of at least 70 percent, considering the expanded base it now has.
So far, this quarter has shown promising results, indicating that the brand strategies are yielding positive outcomes and setting it on the right trajectory for sustained growth. Several key factors contribute to its growth momentum. First, its expansion of exclusive brand outlets (EBOs) has gained significant traction, as has its unassisted distribution channel. These initiatives are driving non-cannibalizing growth, complementing its core skincare and body care offerings.
“In the previous fiscal year, our revenue reached an impressive Rs 300 crore. This year, our target is to come close to the Rs 500 crore mark. With our current momentum and strategic focus on expansion, new product introductions, and enhancing distribution channels, we are confident in our ability to achieve these ambitious growth objectives,” said Shankar Prasad, Founder and CEO, Plum.
Currently, the brand offers a comprehensive portfolio of around 350 SKUs across six categories, including skincare, hair care, body care, makeup, men's care, and baby care products. “The market demand and customer preferences have evolved over time, with certain products gaining more popularity than others. For instance, our vitamin C serum is currently receiving exceptional attention, whereas a year ago, our green tea face wash was a customer favorite,” explained Prasad.
Makeup has become a focal point for the brand, and it is actively developing a broader range of makeup products. The positive response from customers to its previous limited range has encouraged it to expand further in this category. Moreover, Plum is making significant strides in both skincare and hair care segments. It has introduced advanced products and everyday use items in its hair care line, catering to diverse needs.
The brand’s entry into each of the categories, whether it's hair care, makeup, fragrances, bath and body, men's care, or baby care, has been driven by the demands and requests of its loyal consumers. Rather than initiating these categories on its own accord, the brand listened attentively to its customers, who expressed their desire for it to expand into these segments.
Recently, Baby care, in particular, was a carefully considered addition to its portfolio. “We wanted to ensure that we met the highest standards of product safety and certifications before introducing these offerings. Taking our time, we meticulously crafted the product mix and confirmed that everything was in order, prioritizing our customers' well-being and needs over any hurried market entry,” he mentioned.
The baby care category presently includes a small but meaningful selection of products, such as head-to-toe wash, shampoo, body lotion, and body massage oil. While the portfolio may be limited at this stage, these offerings cover the essential personal care requirements for babies.
Push Towards Offline Retail
Plum’s journey in offline retail began back in 2017, when it started with modern trade assistant outlets, featuring sales advisors. Over the years, the brand has made significant progress, expanding to approximately 1500 outlets across 350 towns and cities nationwide. In 2021, it introduced its exclusive brand outlets (EBOs), starting with one store and rapidly growing to 24 outlets today. “Our target is to reach 30 outlets within the next six weeks and ultimately aim for around 50 outlets by the upcoming festive season,” stated Prasad.
Additionally, the brand’s unassisted, distribution-driven business has flourished, with a remarkable presence in over 10,000 outlets. This channel has performed exceptionally well, contributing to its overall growth. Simultaneously, Plum has been fostering stronger relationships with modern trade in both assisted and unassisted formats, further enhancing its market reach and presence.
The brand is currently present in Bangalore, Mumbai, Chennai, Delhi, Chandigarh, Ahmedabad, Surat, Kolkata, etc. “We'll have some openings in Kochi, Hyderabad, and Udaipur,” he added.
Apart from its own website, the brand has established a strong presence in the beauty specialist platforms such as Nykaa, Purplle, and Myntra, as well as in larger horizontals like Amazon and Flipkart. Even grocery-focused platforms are recognizing the value of offering beauty products in their catalogs.
“We have been proactive in engaging with all these retailers across different verticals, viewing each of them as essential touchpoints rather than just places to make purchases. Our online revenue currently accounts for about 60 percent, while offline contributes 40 percent,” highlighted Prasad.
Tier II & Beyond: A Major Contributor
Approximately two-thirds of the brand’s business comes from cities and towns outside of the top eight metropolitan areas, highlighting the significance of these non-major cities in its operations. These regions boast substantial wealth, and people here have the means to indulge in discretionary spending. “However, as brands, we must be mindful of staying relevant and appealing to these consumers. Merely being present in these locations is not enough; we need to offer real value and thoughtful propositions,” he asserted.
Plum’s strategy involves various approaches, such as operating through e-commerce platforms, utilizing direct-to-consumer (D2C) offerings, or leveraging marketplaces. Regardless of the channel, its primary focus is to ensure that it caters to the needs and desires of its customers in these geographies. It understands that consumers today are discerning and won't part with their money unless they see genuine value in what it offers.
Tech At Play
As a crucial initial step, the brand is in the process of integrating its customer database across all touchpoints where it has access to first-party data. Simultaneously, it is making substantial investments in customer-level analytics. “Our aim is to deeply understand the evolving consumer preferences, track the evolution of cohorts, and uncover correlations between product purchase patterns and other relevant factors,” noted Prasad.
Furthermore, Plum is actively working on enhancing the user interface (UI) and user experience (UX) for both its D2C platform and physical stores. These improvements are driven by insights gleaned from its analytics efforts, ensuring that it seamlessly integrates valuable customer data into its operations. “By doing so, we seek to offer a more personalized and satisfying experience to our customers, both online and in-store,” he further said.
Testing International Waters
The brand already established its presence in 15 countries across the globe, focusing on two or three of the largest markets for entry. Its approach to expansion in these markets involves forming distribution partnerships rather than entering as a corporate entity.
Currently, Plum has a strong presence in the Middle East, Southeast Asia, and parts of Latin America. “Our next targets for market entry include North America and certain larger markets within the Middle East and Africa. However, we want to emphasize that international expansion is not our top two or top three priorities. Our primary focus remains on the vast potential of the Indian market, which is deep and large enough to fuel the growth we envision,” he concluded.