SUGAR Cosmetics, one of the fastest growing makeup & beauty brands in India, started as a direct-to-consumer cosmetics brand in 2015 with products that were specifically created for young Indian women. The brand has also built an omnichannel distribution network that includes 2,500+ retail outlets across 130+ cities.
In an exclusive conversation, Vineeta Singh, Co-Founder & CEO, SUGAR Cosmetics, talks about the journey of the brand and its omnichannel strategy. She further elaborates about the future plans of the company.
Tell us about SUGAR Cosmetics. How did the brand start and how has been the journey so far?
SUGAR Cosmetics started as a direct-to-consumer cosmetics brand in 2015 with products that were specifically created for young Indian women. While D2C still contributes 50 percent to SUGAR’s revenue, to scale faster the brand has also built an omnichannel distribution network that includes 2,500+ retail outlets across 130+ cities. At most stores of retail chains like Lifestyle, Shoppers Stop, and Health & Glow, SUGAR is now one of the top 4 cosmetics brands in terms of sales contribution. On social media, it has a passionate fan base of more than two million women and on its own website and mobile app, it gets more than a million unique visitors every month, making it one of the largest digital-first brands in India.
What is your assessment of the beauty retail market in India? According to you, what are the factors propelling growth in this segment?
More than 500 million of the Indian population still prefer to shop in brick-and-mortar outlets. Hence it’s true to say that traditional retail will continue to dominate the lion's share of beauty sales. In-store experiences, visual merchandising, makeup trials, swatching products, being assisted by beauty advisors, and experiencing the touch and feel factors create more than just a sale but a holistic experience for consumers when purchasing from retail outlets. As these factors hold immense value to any Indian consumer, this segment in retail definitely sees a stronghold for a long time.
Tell us about your brand’s USP. And what are your bestselling categories and average price points? Also, going forward, what are the plans to scale up the category range?
The USP of this cult-favorite makeup brand amongst young Indian women is that they’re built to last on Indian skin through the Indian weather conditions & have the most inclusive range in terms of being suitable for the largest spectrum of Indian skin tones. The brand lies between premium and mid-range with an average selling price of approx. Rs 750. Our lips category is our bestseller, responsible for almost 65 percent of the revenue, our face category goes next because of few product innovations like the foundation stick with an inbuilt brush and then eyes because of our bestselling kajal and eyebrow definer. Going forward, we continue to introduce more inclusive shades and trendy makeup products and also grow our skincare range.
Kindly shed some light on your current distribution - including online and offline. Going forward, what are the plans to scale-up the distribution?
SUGAR Cosmetics, one of the fastest growing makeup & beauty brands in India, was digital-only till 2017 via our own website and other leading eCommerce partners. By early 2018, we were also in General Trade and large-format retailers in malls, quickly advanced to launching exclusive brand outlets and kiosks. Currently, our retail footprint is across 130+ cities in 2,500+ retail outlets. Last year we also launched a brand owned mobile app. In this market dynamic - we plan to go stronger on our omnichannel approach to be able to grow the brand and its award-winning product range to its fullest potential.
Online vs offline, which channel has fetched better results in terms of sales?
Pre-COVID we clocked in almost 60 percent of SUGAR’s sales coming in from our exponentially growing offline channels. While the month of April was tough due to the pandemic, we saw a quick recovery from the month of June and have been seeing a month on month uptick in sales since then. Just last month we did 50 percent more revenue than our pre-COVID highest which has been predominantly due to the growth in the e-commerce & brand owned web and mobile app channels. Also, our retail channels got back strong by contributing to 50 percent of the total revenue last month.
At last, kindly highlight your growth plans?
If some reports are to be believed, 95 percent of trade still happens offline in India. Leveraging on this SUGAR plans on building & expanding their retail footprint, enhancing their retail marketing and visual merchandising experience. Even during the pandemic, SUGAR Cosmetics launched 5 new brand owned retail outlets keeping hygiene and safety as a top priority for their retail customers. Going stronger on our D2C channels, we focus on building more to our mobile app that already garnered 800,000 app installs in just a year. content marketing, strong collaborations, and introducing trendy products, remain on the chart for 2021.