\'Beauty and wellness\' market about to explode: Benjamin Suzuki, MD, Shiseido India

In an exclusive conversation with Benjamin Suzuki, Managing Director - Shiseido India.
Shiseido India bullish on Asian Breakthrough strategy

Benjamin Suzuki, Managing Director – Shiseido India shares his views on Indian beauty market.

Share the history of Shiseido India.

Shiseido Co. Ltd launched its wholly-owned subsidiary ‘Shiseido India Private Limited’ in Mumbai in the month of March 2014. This initiative is a part of the company’s ‘Asian Breakthrough strategy’ that focuses on growth in Asian countries, including India, that boasts of bourgeoning beauty market expected to grow significantly in the coming years.

Shiseido Co. Ltd.’s flagship namesake brand “Shiseido” has been present in the Indian market since 2001 through a local distributor, but with the establishment of this subsidiary, the focus is on further strengthening our foothold in the Indian market with our premium flagship brand ‘Za’.

What are the key factors boosting the growth of the brand?

The Beauty and Wellness Industry is dynamic in India. The country is seeing unprecedented growth across all categories, benefits and formats. The primary drivers for this is indeed the growing economic influence of India not only in Asia, but worldwide.

Overall, there is an immense economic optimism championed by a young Indian population that is more aware, more well-travelled and more exposed and connected than ever before. This growth can also be attributed to the increased initiatives by both domestic and international beauty players who are ensuring that country is aligned to the global products and services offered. These are exciting times to be in India and Shiseido’s Za has entered the market just when it is about to explode.

What are the major challenges of being a potential player in this segment? How did you overcome those challenges with other existing market challenges like competitors, availability of resources, revenue generation?

While there are immense opportunities, there are also challenges that one has to face during the startup phase of any company. Getting the right talent, right back-end operations, regulatory compliances, channels of distribution and sale, and marketing are few of the challenges. In our experience, it is very important to do an ample amount of research and absorb the Indian business and cultural environment, understand the consumer and the market before taking the plunge. As a late entrant, we have a lot of ground to cover, but we are confident of our focused approach and capabilities.

What factors made you a potential competitor in the segment for the other existing brands?

Za is a highly acclaimed brand loved by millions metropolitan women around the world for its high efficacy, sensorial and elegance. We are very confident of our products. Moreover, we have entered stores that are accessible and frequented by our target consumers. Through our marketing initiatives, we are focused on reaching out to the consumers through the most relevant touch-points. Our objective is to establish awareness of the brand through multiple mediums like print, digital, below the line activation, events.

Za has already covered niche overseas markets like Hong Kong, Japan, China and Singapore, which other market is your next target and why? How much revenue you are generating from the overseas market?

We have made a conscious effort to move away from being a domestically strong player into a global beauty major representing Asia with its roots in Japan. Today, Shiseido is present in over 89 countries around the globe. As of March 31, 2014, Overseas Sales for Shiseido Group is 52.8 per cent of our overall sales. In every country that we enter including India, it is our endeavor to let people live be beautiful and live beautifully.

What are your future plans with the growth and expansion of your brand? Do you have plans to touch tier II & III cities in future?

We are working at increasing the presence of Za year-on-year. It will be our endeavour to ensure that we offer the ‘best in class’ products, experiences and service to our customers. We see a big demand for our brand from cities beyond the metros, it is imperative that we enter cities of various population configurations in the near future.

By introducing Za at Nykaa.com, you’ve entered on e-tailing format as well, what are your targets and expectations with e-commerce?

Since its launch in April 2014, Za is available across multiple retail formats, including department stores & multi-brand outlets in both modern and traditional trade in Mumbai, Delhi NCR and Bangalore area. With immense demand for our brand coming from other cities in India and the exponential growth of Indian Beauty & Personal Care e-commerce business, it became imperative that Za becomes available to more Indian metropolitan women.

Benjamin Suzuki