The beauty market has evolved significantly throughout the years, particularly in the last two years. Beauty is now defying expectations and redefining itself as a means of self-expression, thus encouraging more about 'how you feel' in your skin and hence breaking standard beauty norms. Beauty technologies, product advancements, and selling methods are rapidly evolving. It's also worth noting that millennials and Gen-Z are spearheading the transformation. Reach and penetration have also been boosted by digital transformation and technological advancements.
The beauty and personal care market stood at $16 billion in 2020 and is expected to reach $28 billion by 2025, according to a RedSeer report. And one of the leaders in this segment is The Body Shop India.
Physical Stores Still Vital for Retail
The dynamics have shifted since the pandemic. Although many customers now purchase online, The Body Shop India’s retail stores remain the heart and soul of its business. Currently, the brand operates 200 stores across India, including in Tier-I and-II cities.
“Our top performing markets in India are Delhi NCR and Mumbai. This year we are planning to open more than 25 stores in 12 cities. We are focusing to expand our base in the current cities along with monitoring and expanding in new cities like Varanasi, Imphal, Darjeeling, Amravati amongst others,” Vishal Chaturvedi, Vice President, The Body Shop India said.
The Body Shop India presently sells in three different formats — shop-in-shop (SIS), standalone store, and travel retail. With the SIS format, the brand is present in all major shopping malls that are easily accessible to consumers. “All three formats are the ideal option for us because it provides us with a direct line of communication with the customer,” he added.
Recently, the brand also launched the first-ever activist workshop in Mumbai. The new activist workshop store concept is an engaging and experience area that encourages people to learn more about the brand's products and campaigns, as well as how we can all work together to make a positive influence on our planet and our communities. This new store concept provides a place for shoppers to engage in play and discovery while being inspired by the brand's iconic beauty products and ethical mission. The store sells worktop surfaces made entirely of recycled materials that would otherwise end up in landfills. The Body Shop India currently has activist workshop stores in Mumbai and Delhi, and it plans to expand the concept across the country.
E-Commerce Business on the Rise
E-commerce has become a major channel for the brand in the last two years. In the pre-Covid time, e-commerce used to be about 10 percent of its total business but today, it contributes around 25 percent of its total business. The Body Shop India expects two-fold growth in the coming years.
Apart from its own website, the brand sells its products on e-commerce platforms like Nykaa, Amazon, Myntra, Flipkart, and Tata CLiQ. The brand also launched WhatsApp shopping as a test and wants to extend it now.
“For the last two years, providing convenience has been the most crucial cornerstone. Customers desire help, and our aided sales strategy has helped us to expand. We offer video consultations, WhatsApp shopping, same-day delivery, and three-hour delivery through partnerships with local logistics providers. There is no one-size-fits-all answer; instead, it is a flexible multichannel approach to interacting with customers wherever they are,” Chaturvedi stated.
A Mixed Palette
Currently, The Body Shop India is offering approximately 750 SKUs across categories. It has moisturizers, face washes, toners, serums, and face masks for all skin types, as well as body care products such as shower gels, body butter, and bath accessories.
Haircare, fragrance, and makeup are among the other well-known categories.
During the pandemic, the brand expanded and entered a new category of hand sanitizers and washes as per its consumer demands.
“On the product front, we aim to turn completely Vegan by 2023. Additionally, we are constantly focused on making our product packaging 100 percent recyclable thus reducing our environmental impact,” he asserted.
Introduction of New Pricing Strategy
This year, the brand introduced the strategic price reduction of The Body Shop’s top-selling essentials. The new pricing strategy in India entails a reduction by 20-50 percent on the brand’s iconic favorites including its top-selling Tea Tree and Vitamin E ranges amongst others. It has been undertaken to keep in mind the post-pandemic spending habits of consumers and to strengthen its positioning as an affordable yet high-quality, natural, and sustainable beauty brand.
“We are looking to support consumers' requirements for well-priced daily essentials and the need for certifiably cleaner and greener products. This is aimed to recruit a broadening the audience and provide for existing consumer essentials, including all genders and age groups across the country. We are committed to a customer-first approach to delivering its products at new reduced prices,” Chaturvedi further said.
The Body Shop is a disruptive beauty brand with an edge in the Indian market.
Community programs, communications channels, collaborations, and third-party channels are the brand’s 4 major pillars of marketing strategy.
Community Programs: Its CFT commitment to becoming a purpose-driven business has kept the brand true to its activist roots. There is credible work being done in the areas of plastics, waste, packaging, and sustainability. Currently, over 73 percent of its products are VEGAN certified by The Vegan Society.
Communication Channels: In current times, the lines are blurring between digital & physical. Beauty shopping is not restricted to one and in fact, the integration of two is a must to cater to audience needs. The brand has focused its energies on servicing its consumers swiftly as well as digitally enabling its site to deliver an experience at par with that of its stores. Other steps include free samples of consumers’ choice on every order; live chats with personal skincare experts, and AI-driven product recommendations.
Collaborations: Evidently, influencer collaborations enhance content engagement. It also gives a window to reach audiences in varied demographics & geographies.
Third-Party Channels: The brand’s collaboration with Nykaa, Amazon, and Myntra has helped it to make its way to even the remotest corners of the country.
Technology: A Game Changer in Beauty Business
While technology affects many businesses, the beauty industry, in particular, had to pivot quickly and rely on technology during the pandemic. The underlying technology behind AI and ML, as well as augmented and virtual reality, has always existed, but its use in the beauty business has only recently begun to take shape.
Virtual 'try on' apps, smart skincare equipment, and printed make-up are some of the other emerging trends. Furthermore, the brand is placing a large bet on conversational commerce, particularly via WhatsApp. It believes WhatsApp will be a standalone digital business channel with its own set of use cases and processes.
“Consumers are actively seeking sensorial experience, physical interaction, engagement, touch and feel of products, and personalized consultation at stores because the need for human connection is stronger than ever. Our omnichannel strategy and technological advancements have aided us in addressing new developing circumstances and reaching out to customers via their preferred channels like social media, YouTube, closed groups on WhatsApp, and third party portals,” Chaturvedi concluded.
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