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Berina on the Fast Track

Berina, a hair care and colour brand, stresses the relevance of education to serve their clients in a better manner. Ajay Jalan, MD, Berina Cosmetics, shares his present and future plans with Salon India

What motivated you to start this business?

People today are conscious of the way they present themselves to the world outside –be it regarding their health, their looks or hair. We found that women were more concerned about their hairstyle and hair colour. So, in 1955 the factory was established in Bangkok. Ever since, Berina has been in the business of making natural and healthy hair products that enhance the beauty of a woman’s hair. We decided to create a brand that was not only natural, but also available at reasonable prices, as this would help us achieve our target of ‘consumer satisfaction’.

Please tell us about your growth and journey.

As I said, every success has a story behind it, and Berina is no exception. We work in a dedicated and serious manner in order to serve premium quality products.

The ladder of success is best climbed by stepping on the rungs of opportunity and following the same mantra. Berina takes one step at a time towards growth. In 1980, we introduced four new fashion hair colours, which came in seven shades in the colour album. Soon, it came up with another three beautiful shades following the positive response garnered. In 1995, five more shades were added to the colour album. This was followed by a brief period of research with advanced technology and in 2000, Berina launched 20 shades.

By 2004, a big revolution had taken place so we introduced four shades to meet the market demand. Two years later, six more shades were introduced in the natural shade category to take the total up to 30 colourful shades. Today we have as many as 47 shades to choose from.

Product Portfolio

Berina is popular not only for its hair colouring products but is also a leading brand in professional hair products. Some of its leading products include: Hair Straightener Cream, Extra Straight Cream, Rebounding Cream, Bleaching Powder, Peroxide Cream, Hair Spa, Heat Protector, Hair Solution, Hair Coat, Shiny Wax, Shine Up Spray, Shampoo, Conditioner, Leave-on-Conditioner, Hair Mousse, Normal Hair Color, Professional Hair Color, Fre-nia Hair Color, Protein Conditioner, Permanent Pro Wave Lotion, Symple Hair Color, Issy Color Shampoo, Cool Spa, et cetera.

The new hair care products introduced by Berina are Issy Hair Color Shampoo (colour your hair in less than a few minutes on your own), Symple Hair Color Cream (colour up your hair with no ammonia), Cool Hair Spa (stay relaxed in peak summers), Pro Wave Lotion, Pro Straight, Gum Gel, Gel Wax, Heat Protector, Hair Spa, Hair Coat, Leave-on- Conditioner, Berina Solution, Protein Conditioner and more. We also have hair care accessories like Berina Curling Rod, Berina Straightening Iron Rod and Berina Hair Dryer.

What is your focus in the market?

We educate people about hair care problems and their solution. Our focus is to enhance the productivity and accessibility of our products in the market. Our first priority is to provide better hair solution products and services to our customer base.

How do you differentiate yourself from the competition?

Berina has a collection of 47 great shades to choose from at an affordable price range; we have an array of professional products and we are now in the personal care cosmetics division, too. Our products like Berina shaving foam, room fresheners and many more.

What kind of investment and infrastructure is required for the business?

Even in times of recession, women will make the effort to look good. Hence, the hair care business with good products and well-priced services will never lose out. This business does not require large amounts of investment to get started, but new ideas and innovations are critical. The infrastructure for this business should be in favour of better technology and well-built warehouses.

How has the global economic meltdown affected the business? Has it affected the Indian demand of products?

Recession is one of the major concerns in the world today, especially in developing countries like India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, et cetera. In the 90s, many developing countries endeavoured to come out from the crises but couldn’t. Thousands of people were unemployed and many had to leave their jobs but the hair care business was the least affected. Although it has been difficult to provide jobs to everyone but this business changes the definition of recession and provides jobs to many people.

The Indian demand for these products has never seen a dip. In fact, it is in high demand as per the changing economic dynamics.

Which hair products are more in demand in the Indian market?

Hair colour and fashion colour, our Frenia Color-No Ammonia, with complete grey hair coverage. Hair products like hair dryers, professional ceramic curling irons, professional hair staighteners, hair spa and hair colour shades are more in focus.

How do you read the future of the Indian market?

The Indian market is bright but its potential has not been exploited fully. Many consumer segments remain to be tapped. Tier III and IV are opening up and this is where many possibilities lie. There are many consumers whose preferences are just to maintain their style, especially their hair. The Indian market is completely based on international trends or trade. Now, the Government of India is opening up foreign trade and foreign direct investment. So, for a brand to enhance its productivity and increase its profits, it has to provide quality products at better price points in order to remain in the game. How does the product know-how affect the demand? What is the focus of the Indian buyer? Is it the price, quality, brand name or latest technology? As the demand for hair products is competitive, no manufacturer can charge more than a product’s marginal cost. Any further increase in the price would lead to decrease in the demand for a particular product. There are homogeneous products in the market.

There is lower transportation cost and the consumer has good knowledge of products.

The focus of the Indian buyer is to purchase that product which is low in price, offers better quality, has a good brand value and makes use of better technology. These are the key points for any buyer to determine the product of their choice.

How do you approach the market or the buyer with a new product?

To increase the sales of our new products, we first ensure that our products are reasonably priced and are competitive. However, we also ensure that the products are priced higher than their average cost (P=MC). Our second motive is to provide better quality products and innovate ones so that we can differentiate them from other products available in the market. Our third motive is to provide better services. Next, we honour whatever feedback we receive from our customers regarding product quality and services. Lastly, we approach customers through seminars, demos and workshop in order to introduce new products to them.

What is your marketing strategy?

Our marketing strategy is to provide better and high-tech products that are natural and available at reasonable prices.

What has been your growth rate?

When we started, the demand for our products was only limited to our region. However, soon we managed to expand our customer base, as people recognised our products’ potential. Today, the demand for Berina products has reached more than 25 countries across the globe.

What are your future plans for expansion?

Our plan is to make newer, better quality products. We like to innovate so that our customers enjoy our technologies and ideas at affordable prices.

What is your current presence in cities across India?

Berina products are available almost across the country, Tier II and III included.

What is your success mantra?

Education is important to us and we work with focus and devotion.