Post pandemic, consumers have started betting big on clean beauty. Earlier, we, as a collective industry, did get influenced by the West ignoring the long-term damage unnatural products were causing to the environment. But gladly we are back on track with the growing awareness about clean and natural beauty more than ever. “Globally, the clean beauty market is growing rapidly and is expected to reach over $54 billion by 2027, “as per research.
A lot of homegrown brands that are clean or natural have also come into being and gained recognition in the past few years. Since then, the understanding of clean beauty by the brands and the consumers has also risen, and that is honestly what keeps us going.
Since the pandemic hit the world, it has ironically proven to be a boon to the digital sphere. Where everybody used to be (almost) fully dependent on in-store shopping for beauty and cosmetics, 2020 led the brands, the e-commerce websites, to fill in the gaps.
According to Naina Ruhail, Co-founder and CIO, Vanity Wagon, “While there were some positive impacts, there were also some challenges. The consumer sentiments became highly favorable towards online retail which benefitted Vanity Wagon. With the safety of shopping in the comfort of home, the online retail industry has seen multi-fold growth since last year. Challenges came in the form of disruption of supply chain (upstream mostly) and managing a company that thrives on its people through work from home modules. The company currently operates with twenty-two strong workforces, which was twelve pre-Covid. This simply displays the growth that Vanity Wagon has achieved in the last one year.”
The journey of Vanity Wagon started with 10 brands in 2018. The brand has onboarded 143 brands till now. The brand aims at adding 7-10 quality brands every month. By the end of the financial year, the brand is targeting 200+ brands. There are several major brands in the pipeline.
On-boarding Procedure of a Brand
When it comes to the onboarding procedure of a brand, Ruhail shared some really interesting insights stating, ”There are two channels through which brands are onboarded on Vanity Wagon. Either brands reach out to us or our BD team reaches out to the brands that align with our values. A lot of deep research and analysis goes in before onboarding any brand.”
“Some of the criteria before listing a brand on our marketplace would be: they should be clean and transparent with their labels and practices, they should have an impactful social media presence, they should have certain certifications that we, as Vanity Wagon approve of and the last but not the least which goes without saying, the brand should match our ethics and ethos,“ she added.
When it comes to consumer’s health and safety Vanity wagon put every product through a 3 step quality check process, which is mentioned below:
i. Search for the Best- The process starts with searching the market for the products that are known to be the most effective at what they claim to do and also that have been crafted to perfection for their users. “We don't just read, we research,” said Ruhail.
ii. Safety and Quality- The brand maintain a list of the ‘Dirty Ingredients’ that should not ever be a part of your lifestyle products. Every product on Vanity has to be free of these nasty ingredients. Once they are sure that the brand abides by this and each of its products is safe for you, it goes on to test them. A team of 3-5 members uses these products in their routines. If the product passes the step, Vanity then put them into consideration.
iii. Inform and share- The final step in the Vanity Approval Process is to better inform the team and the community of these products.
Sustainable Beauty and Skin Care Products
Most beauty products today contain toxic chemicals which can be harmful for consumers’ skin as well as the environment. How would someone like to lather up their skin with chemicals all day? Same way, the Earth is also gradually covering up in chemicals released out of the beauty industries during its manufacturing. Hence, it is now very crucial for industries, not only beauty but other segments to have a check upon them.
“Customers have now started being conscious and mindful of their choices. They are slowly becoming aware of the toxicities the beauty products subjected them to and are now switching on to cleaner alternatives slowly, but surely,” Ruhail added.
Technology plays a vital role when it comes to offering the consumer a better and satisfactory experience. Vanity Wagon is doing quite the same in terms of marring technology with the brand.
On the technological front, Ruhail asserted, “We are currently a Shopify driven website. Shopify is a fairly easy model for newer companies because it provides backend support and does not require us to spend much on tech resources. Going ahead, we want to give more customized services which are more AI-driven and prompt customers at each step. That kind of tech development is what we’re working on. Further, a first-of-its-kind mobile shopping experience via app is an investment into tech amongst others this year. We are also investing capital into solidifying our order fulfillment and making our supply chain stronger via a technology-first approach.”
Marketing and promotion is centered around building a community that values clean beauty and utilizes the brand as a medium to fulfil their needs in the category.
“We deploy multiple strategies including performance marketing, influencer led movement, and also a data-driven blog marketing, all of which is part of our larger strategy to increase our RoAS and achieve best in industry metrics. We spend anywhere from 20-25 percent on our marketing and aim to balance that out with an equally large return on investment,” she stated.
For Vanity Wagon, till now, it was a fairly straightforward approach of becoming the largest selling clean beauty portal in the country. Going ahead, the idea is to open more revenue streams and the brand is also launching its own products.
“We are also going global starting with Singapore and then moving to other APAC countries. Going forward, we’re also working on acquiring a couple of brands. Brands that don’t have the bandwidth to spend on marketing but have a great set of products,” she concluded.