Innovative and high quality hair removing waxes and creams in the professional space are offering a tidal wave of opportunity for distributors and salon owners
In the fast evolving beauty and wellness industry, epilators play an intrinsic part. While the category covers hair removal creams, waxes or sugars, mousses and gels and wax strips for men and women, the market is solely based on sales through distributors and retail channels including direct to consumer.
However, according to research conducted by Euromonitor and Mintel, in recent years, the global hair removal products industry, has witnessed a falling off in the numbers of customers visiting beauty salons, which is in part due to the economic recession. With less money to spend on non-essentials, such as hair removal services, consumers have been increasingly opting for the less expensive option of at-home hair removal. In turn, demand for hair removal products has risen. Hair removers and bleaches remain amongst the most popular products as they can be used in the comfort of one’s home and is a relatively inexpesnive option as compared to waxes. Both in marketing and manufacturing efforts, industry players are focusing on ease of use.
Key player – Wax
In India, waxing is one of the fastest and most popular methods of hair removal. From hot and cold waxes, the professional and retail industry is coming up with newer, safer and comfortable options. Says Kamal Motwani, Director, Beauty World and the distributor for Estilo Wax in India, “In Estilo, we have a liposoluble wax made in Italy, available in strawbery, white chocolate, green apple, dark choclate, banana, aloe vera and lemon variants.” As the brand is effective in salons, they are looking at launching more varieties. Although all their waxes are accepted in the Indian market, there is a huge demand for the chocolate variant.Subham Virmani, Director, Esskay Beauty Resources, reveals, “In Rica, alone, there are 15 varieties of waxes, which are used as per skin type. The range includes lemon for normal skin, white chocolate and the fruity range comprising of strawberry and banana for dry skin, coconut for very dry skin; honey, milk, aloe vera, green apple, sweet almond for sensitive skin; Brazillian wax for face and bikini areas; gold, pearl, argan oil wax in the luxury wax segment. In Rica, all variants are popular in the market. People have different choices in different regions. Some markets prefer the chocolate variant, while others prefer fruity flavours. It’s completely based on the type of skin and personal preference of the client.” Apart from these, they also have the Coin Wax.
Visage Beauty and Health Care, which has the popular skin care brand O3+ in its kitty, also has TWC wax, which has a wide variety of natural liposoluble waxes that are formulated in Italy. The variants include rose, aloe vera, milk and chocolate. The portfolio also includes oil based pre wax cleansers, post wax cleansers and soothing lotions. Says Vidur Kapur, Director, Visage Beauty and Health Care Pvt Ltd, “The highest selling are the variants which have lighter colour ingredients.”
Says AK Wali from Olina Professional Cosmetics, “We have hair removers in bottles and tubes and they are available in rose, lemon, strawberry, aloe vera, almond and mixed fruit, variants.”
Says Kapur, “We have made a heavy investment as the entire plant needs to be established as per European standards. A lot of climatic conditions need to be considered as well. We have a variety of manufacturing machines for this. We are heavily investing in this project, the value of which I will not be able to disclose.”
Challenges faced in distribution
Motwani has been wise. Before launching the brand in the country, he carried out an intensive market research. He was, then, able to assess that there was a gap and the Estilo brand, would be a good choice. Hence, he was adequately prepared for all the eventualities.
Virmani shares, “Thanks to the popularity of the brand internationally and now in the Indian market, we are also getting enquiries from smaller towns. We are now finding suitable channel partners who can give proper service to our customers in smaller regions. This is a challenge. There are more than 50 sub-distributors across India and we are expanding in order to provide better service to our customers. Rica wax is a complete concept on which a customer needs to be educated. It is easy, but, has a unique method of application which the therapist should understand. India is a huge country lacking in unskilled therapist, which is another challenge. However, we are conducting seminars, workshops and in- salon trainings to upgrade the skills of the therapist performing Rica Wax in the salon. We also have our own Academy where we conduct Rica workshops and give complete knowledge on the product.”
The challenge that Visage faces is the weight of the wax tins. Shares Kapur, “The only factor which needs to be considered is the handling and weight of the tins. This usually becomes a little problematic during international exports. But still, we have the highest distributor network in India in this field.”
Wali says, “We have very big market share in 40gm bottle hair remover, as we have been manufacturing and marketing this product for the last 40 years. We export sizable quantities of it to about 12 countries and the demand is increasing. The challenge is from the un-organised sector who sell waxes and creams at very low prices.”
Grooming services like waxing forms a large part of revenue generation for salons. When an international brand is available at a salon, consumers tend to try the product at least once. If they are satisfied with the results, no doubt, they will ask for it again. Shares Virmani, “We have several internationally renowned brands for salons and spas. Rica is definitely one of our strong brands and it has helped us in reaching salons and spas across different regions.” Kapur is quick to agree. Exclaims he, “TWC has given us a bigger picture in totality. More production needs to take place to meet the rising demand. It has been relatively easier for people to accept this brand from the house of O3+.”
Since the salon business is limited, brands that work with consumers tend to become overnight successes. Says Kapur, “It has not even been a year, and already TWC has created a niche for itself in the market. There has been a high acceptance as its coming from the house of O3+. It is, no doubt, in the times to come expected to be a market leader due to the Italian formulations. The demand is rising day-by-day, and so, production needs to gear up. We are also laying emphasis on the education, in order to establish a difference between liposoluble and hydroliposoluble wax.” Rica wax has been extremely profitable for the salons.
Citing reasons for its success, shares Virmani, “Firstly, salon owners can start a new service by keeping an international range for waxing; secondly, the application cost is less. With one jar of Rica, a salon can take care of several full body clients, as a very thin layer of wax is applied per application, and thirdly, Rica’s unmatched quality, worldwide, leaves a smile on the clients face and the salon is abe to create a regular client. Rica, today, is present in more than 2,000 salons and spas across India.”
Competition from laser services
The laser hair removal market segment continues to attract a rising number of customers due to its long-term benefits. However, it seems, the distributors have nothing to worry about as it’s not a threat to their business. Shares Virmani, “Laser hair removal and waxing are completely different concepts. In laser treatment, the client has to undergo many sessions to get rid of hair, while waxing is an inexpensive and immediate option. It’s true that laser provides long-term reduction of hair growth, but, from the business perspective, it’s like a one-time service. On the other hand, waxing is a recurring service, a client will re-visit the salon every two weeks and give repetitive revenue to the service provider. After waxing, hair growth is finer and softer. Laser hair removal must be done in a licensed facility by trained professionals. Such facilities are usually in larger cities, which decreases convenience and increases travel time.”
However, Kapur feels differently and accepts that lasers do pose a threat to waxes. “To an extent, yes, but that is mostly because of the lack of awareness of liposoluble waxing. The major difference between lipo wax and hydrolipo wax is that the former delays hair growth, while giving a smooth experience. This is what needs to be conveyed,” says he. To fix the problem, he shares that awareness and education in salons is critical. “More emphasis needs tp be laid on training of the therapist who will then convey to the client the pros of lipo waxing. We are emphasising on this extensively by conducting regular workshops and training programmes,” says he.
Response from Tier II, III
After exhausting the metros, brands are now eyeing the interiors of the country. Says Virmani, “Yes, after receiveing a good response from the metros, we are also making efforts in Tier II and III cities. We are getting good response for the brand in all the states in India. In these cities, the per capita income, lifestyle and infrastructure is growing and hence, heralding a positive change. We are conducting regional seminars and workshops across India and we see people have a positive mindset and are interested in learning new things being promoted by globally reputed brands. Of course, penetrating these cities doens’t come without challenges, but we have devised certain support plans that are helping the businesses in these regions.”
Says Kapur, “Yes TWC is going to Tier II and III cities due to the awareness and the increased paying capacity of the end customers.” Wali is quick to say, “Definitely, such products are finding way to Tier II and III markets speedily and the FMCG demand and sales in such category towns is growing around 35 per cent as compared to urban areas, which is around 16 per cent as per reports.”
Acceptability from salons
A distributor depends heavily on the market. In the beauty business, it is imperative that the salon feels positively about a brand. Says Virmani, “We have salons in more than 80 cities in India that are using Rica wax products and are extremely happy with its quality. The brand has also enhanced the profitability of the salons as they charge a premium from their customers for the brand. Today, all the leading salons and spa chains have supported us tremendously and appreciated the performance of Rica in their salons.”
About TWC, Kapur reveals, “The response has been fantastic. We are already catering to the top corporate chains in India. The clients are loving this wide range of liposoluble waxes. Moreover, the quality and the results are highly appreciated. Enquiries are coming from all over India.”
Wali from Olina shares, “Salons and parlours are mushrooming across India. Unfortunately, most of the down-the-ladder salons are still being lured by cheap quality products. Few popular salons, still prefer to use local brands because of bigger margins. Only the high-end salons are conscious and careful to use quality products to add to their reputation and clientele.”
Anne French, Veet and Dabur’s Fem hair removing cream are ruling the market. Says Sanjay Singal, Marketing Head Skin Care, Dabur India Ltd, “The USP of the Fem hair removing cream is that it’s anti-darkening. We are unable to convey this aspect to the lady buyer at the POS and it has become our biggest challenge. We need to hence, rely on mass media to inform our customers.”
In India, beauty is directly proportional to hairlessness. Therefore, it is only natural that waxing will always remain in demand. Corroborates Virmani, “Waxing as a service has a bright future. Thanks to Rica wax, a major opportunity has come to salons in terms of adding a new concept, high profitability and loyal customers.” Kapur signs off by reiterating the profitability and win win factor for brands, distributors and salons in the business.”