Home Beauty & Wellness Salons, spas and brands gear up for the bridal season

Salons, spas and brands gear up for the bridal season


The bridal market in India, by far, is the biggest in the world and be it recession or inflation, remains unaffected. Over the years, this segment has seen immense changes and growth as with each passing season, weddings are becoming more and more extravagant. Currently, it is estimated that the Indian wedding industry is over `100,000 crore and growing at 25 to 30 per cent annually.

Salons in the North and West

One of India’s most popular and oldest salon chains, Lakmé Salons is the preferred choice of the young and the young at heart, alike. Says Pushkaraj Shenai, COO, Lakmé Lever, “The wedding industry despite being ‘seasonal’, is a thriving one and has a high growth potential. The estimated worth of the Indian wedding industry is Rs110 thousand crore and estimated to grow a further 25 per cent per annum. To meet the gigantic
requirements of the season, the backstage experts at Lakmé Fashion Week have inspired some of the most prominent beauty trends and this season, we have announced a fi rst-of-its kind initiative – The Lakmé Salon Bridal Dream Team, which comprises of Shailesh Moolya, Creative Hair Director, Lakmé Salons, Sushma Khan, National Skin and Make-up Trainer, Lakmé Salons and hand-picked skilled Lakmé Salon experts. Following the international trends and keeping in mind the Indian hair type, Lakmé Salon has launched the NutriStraight Quadra Hair Therapy, a treatment that
straightens, smoothens and strengthens dull unmanageable hair.

To enhance the skin’s glow, various innovative skin rituals like Youth Infinity Sculpting Facial for the 20s sculpted look, Perfect Radiance Intense Whitening Ritual for radiant skin and Moroccan Liquid Gold Ritual, a hydrating facial with the benefi ts of Argan Oil have been introduced. Additionally, Lakmé Salon has introduced ‘Airbrush’ – a lightweight make-up technique that is water proof, smudge-proof and lasts much longer
than regular conventional make-up making it perfect for the bridal look.”

Levan Ramishvilli, Director, Dessange Paris in Mumbai shares, “The bridal market is over $35 billion and the beauty market is pegged at $950 million in India. While there are a proportionate number of players entering the market to meet the demand, most of the sector is still largely unorganised.” To meet the requirements of the season, they have launched nail art, nail extensions, hair extensions and eyelash extensions.

Akshata Honawar, Director, Runah Salon in Mumbai and a L’Oréal Professionnel Dream Team Member, says, “We are offering individual packages for brides, grooms and family and include hair, face and body care for two to three months before the wedding besides the actual hair and make-up on the wedding day. We also work with a nutritionist in this package.”

Rakshay Dhariwal, Director, Worship Salon in Delhi, reveals, “Industry estimates declare that the bridal market is worth about $40 billion in India. At Worship Salon and Gentlemen’s Tonic, we believe that the possibilities are endless. When it comes to something as deeply entrenched in our culture as a wedding, the end result is not about the money, but satisfaction.” As the requirements vary from person to person,
says Dhariwal, “Our product line includes Epicuren, Novalash, Kronokare, Repechage, Bio Sculpture and GK Hair. Handpicked and personally tested, our focus is to target individual needs.”

Salons in the East and South

Carlos Saavedra, Creative Head, Rossano Ferretti Salon and Ayuko Suzuki, Director of Spa at the Ritz Carlton in Bangalore, say, “At the Rossano Ferretti Hair Salon, we have bridal beauty packages that cater to every service that a bride would require. We ensure that the services and packages we introduce, cover the basics of hair, make-up, nails and most times, we even customise our services to a bride’s needs.”

Swati Gupta, Master Alchemist, System Proffesional India and Director, Bodycraft Salon in Bangalore, feels similarly when she says, “According to me, these days couples do not shy away from investing in their wedding.” To meet the season head on, they have recently added the System Professional Luxe Oil treatments to the hair portfolio and are also launching airbrush make-up soon.

Vikram Mohan, Director, Spalon India Private Limited opines, “At Oryza, we are offering compete pampering sessions for brides, which include body and skin treatments. The business during this time is good and contributes to over 15 per cent of our revenue.”

Veena Kumaravel, Founder, Naturals Salons, says, “We have launched new services which are result-oriented and give best results to the would-be brides. Keeping this in mind, our pre-bridal services are a combination of spas and facial treatments that address the concerns of a bride right from the top to her toes.”

Preeti Singh, Owner, Rock Paper Scissor in Bangalore says, “As a L’Oréal exclusive salon, we have introduced to our clients the newly launched L’Oréal Wild Stylers – an excellent product that allows us to create hair styles and textures as per the trend.” Arpita Saha, Beauty & Wellness Expert, Owner of Sristy Beauty Clinic & Training Centre in Kolkata, says, “We have a range of regular salon services and bridal make-up services. We have introduced services which are designed to help the bride and groom relax and detoxify, such as Astrotherapy, which is a cell therapy and chakra cleansing

Spas in South

Jacob Thomas, Director Marketing, Footworks in Bangalore, feels, “We have introduced ‘Gift Coupons’ so that it can be gifted to the newly married couple as well as guests. They need relaxation and rejuvenation, to come out of the stress and tension related to the wedding arrangements. We have also introduced ‘Value Packs’, not just for the bridal couple, but where the entire family can come over and de-stress. These Value Packs have been a big draw with wedding planners who send groups of eight or 10 together for a pampering session before or after the

Aesthetic centres in North

Says Dr Geetika Mittal Gupta, Founder, ISAAC in Delhi, “We are coming up with an exclusive range of medi-facials that shall include an all new 24 carat gold facial in addition to the recently launched LED aqua-phoresis. The gold facial treatment is a luxurious face treatment based on pure gold, silk proteins, marine collagen ‘wrinkle fi llers’, natural extracts and innovative use of anti-ageing oligopeptides in modern cosmetology. The LED aquaphoresis facial involves a sequence of specialised electrical currents and low temperatures are used to carry the substances into the tissue. For
the body, we also have a Fat Freeze service imported from Spain.”

Dr Sirisha Singh of The Skin Center in Delhi says, “We focus on customising treatments based on individual needs. For example, for that glow on the face, we choose between chemical peeling, microdermabrasion, photo-facial and mesotherapy. Based upon their skin type, we may choose one or a combination of these above treatments. Along with the treatment for the face, we choose between a whole body peel with a pack, a whole body microdermabrasion with a body pack, a deeper peel in targeted areas or photo-facial for the body. Based upon the client’s needs and choices, we package the whole plan. We are also offering the vampire facial this year, which we expect will be subscribed to by the parents of the bride and the groom. So typically, a bride or groom will have a face treatment, a body treatment and may have enhanced services like laser hair reduction or injections, if required.”

Brands in the business

Says Smira Bakshi, General Manager, Kérastase India, “For brides-to-be, we have launched Couture Styling, which is a range of new products that provide quick self-styling solutions. Powder Bluff, the dry shampoo is a great product, which can be used to touch up your hair in between functions, especially when you are short of time. It absorbs the excess oil at the roots to refresh your hairstyle almost immediately, giving it instant texture and volume. The range has styling products, such as, Boucles d’art, Forme Fatale, Lift Vertige and more, to allow the creation of natural, easy to create, free fl owing hairstyles, which are elegant and easy to carry. The Densifique range is recommended as a pre-bridal package for fuller, thicker and denser hair. Kérasatase Rituals offer a range of rituals for intense conditioning depending on the bride’s scalp and hair concerns. The Chronologiste Ritual is a VIP Ritual for hair rejuvenation which is a must for every bride.”

Says Avni Amlani, International Skin Expert and Consultant to Dermalogica, “We will be launching a chemical peel called Biosurface Peel, which is a treatment that should be a part of the bride and groom’s skin care regime for healthy glowing skin in the run up to the big day.”

Says Divya Thukral, Director, Belle Vous Pvt Ltd and who has ushered into India, Natio Cosmetics from Australia, “Weddings mean color. So, keeping this in mind, Natio has introduced Smoothie Lip Crayons, which are bright, creamy, long-lasting and made from pure essential oils. So it’s make-up and skin care in one. We have a 100 per cent organic body polish to offer in our spa range, which leaves your skin feeling soft and glowing. Natio’s Sun Swept Bronzer is ideal for bridal make-up as it highlights and sharpens cheek bones, chin and nose.”

From Lotus Herbals one can look forward to Lotus Professional’s Preservita Advanced Fruit Marmalade Facials. An innovative and exotic line of real fruit marmalade-based facials, this product will change the way the market perceives fruit facials. This range has five exciting facials that includes: Advanced Bearberry Marmalade Facial for whiter, brighter skin, Advanced Kiwi Fruit Marmalade Facial for younger looking skin, Advanced Vino Grapes Marmalade Facial for glowing, radiant skin, Advanced Papaya Marmalade Facial for blemish-free skin and Advanced Pineapple Marmalade Facial for
sensitive skin.

Challenges faced by salons

Gradually it’s ben observed that the bridal segment is getting more niche and specifi c. A bride-to-be today spends minimum two to three months on pre- bridal professional beauty care and cosmetic treatments. Keeping these factors in mind, Veena says that at Naturals they constantly put in effort to be at par with the changing trends in this segment and reinterpret them to suit the needs and requirements of the customers. “Bridal services are expensive and one of the challenges that we faced was to customise our bridal packages and align them with the brand, which is to be affordable and luxurious with compromising on the quality,” shares Veena.

Dhariwal is of the view that the challenges faced in setting up any new establishment are immense. Says he, “Our main concern has always been to provide the best possible service to the client, which is a challenge on a daily basis.” Ramishvilli feels that  delivering the same quality standards as are available in Dessange salons across the globe is a challenge. Elaborating on the point, he says, “We had to send our staff abroad for the training and have international stylists coming down to train them further. Delivering the highest quality product in a price sensitive market is a challenge. There
are many players, but few quality, organised brands are in the market. In a country like India, it is important to be sensitive and monitor the price points for the consumer because the luxury segment is still very nascent.”

Saha from Kolkata is concerned about the lack of awarenessof the consumer. Kolkata is a comparatively conservative market so people were not aware of the goodness of such unique services and salon services were mostly thought to be only hairstyling and make-up. “We had to spread awareness about the need of good hair care , skin care, treatments for specifi c problems. Today most of our clients appreciate the fact that
we provide therapeutic services which is required for internal wellness and also other advanced beauty and styling services,” reveals she.

Says Shenai, “The team at Lakmé Salon does not look at challenges negatively, infact, we consider them opportunities for growth. Equipped with a good training programme, the seeming challenges are always addressed even before they arise and are tackled swiftly.” Vivek Shyam of Shyam’s Hair & Beauty Studio in Mumbai feels that the real estate prices are a big challenge today when they think of buying bigger space for better
servicing of customers.

Concerns of spas

Thomas of Footworks is of the view that foot refl exology is still not a familiar therapy in India and people like to spend more money on beauty rather than wellness. Unlike in Singapore, Indonesia, Japan, China and other Asian Countries, people in India are yet to be habituated to ‘Foot Refl exology’.

Issues that the brands face

Thukral is candid when she says, “Deciding the right colours, the right ingredient mix is always a challenge and hopefully, we have survived that, too! We have limited, but beautiful and ever-green colours in cosmetics to offer.” As per Amlani fromDermalogica, “The need to keep Dermalogica’s core principle of skin health paramount, whilst creating the BioSurface Peel, providing a high level of professional results by a skin care therapist was a challenge. The other challenge was to make sure there was very minimal or no downtime post treatment, so that one could receive these treatments in between a busy schedule. A post-care kit has been designed to help maintain the health of the skin for the crucial three days following the treatment.”

Challenges of aesthetic centres
Dr Singh from The Skin Centre reveals, “Last year, we had fi xed packages. We found that a fi xed and infl exible package doesn’t suit everybody. When treatments were customised, the cost became an issue. The challenge faced while coming up with this idea of customising treatments was the cost factor. In packaging the treatments, we have given a 30 to 50 per cent discount, as compared to individual treatments. This makes it cost-effective for the client in addition to other benefi ts. Says Dr Mittal, “The main challenge that we faced while introducing the Fat Freeze technology was to accept the concept that fat loss can be achieved by using a controlled cooling system and then to further educate the masses about this latest and a brilliant innovation in the fi eld of cosmetic dermatology. People are used to taking multiple sessions for any treatment. Fat Freeze technology is a one-time treatment which has shown promising results.”

Strategies to stay ahead|

To be a leader in the game, Shenai of Lakmé Lever shares that they leverage the strong database of customers to drive loyalty and consumption. The Lakmé IN Privileges programme delights customers with customised offers, happy hours and personalised amenities. Says he, “We have expertise at the heart of our strategy and magnify it at every touchpoint. The Lakmé Salon Bridal Dream Team is a campaign to magnify our expertise in bridal services. At the recent Lakmé Fashion Week Winter/Festive, Lakmé Salon collaborated with grand fi nale designer Manish Malhotra
to create the bridal looks. The Lakmé Salon Bridal Dream Team, who created these looks, will be present across Lakmé Salons in the country. The team will guide customers through the trends for the upcoming season in terms of dress, hair and make-up taking cues from Manish Malhotra’s latest collection. We are also planning to launch in-salon contests wherein the lucky winner will get a chance to win a trousseau box designed by Manish Malhotra. We use conventional static media – print, outdoor blended with digital and social media to engage consumers.”

Amlani corroborates and says, “We have a large database of clients and a majority of them come through word-of-mouth referral. We simply do in-house marketing and have placed the leafl ets inside the clinic. We do not believe in hard-sell and focus on soft marketing. We have worked hard to develop a client base on the basis of trust and effect.

We do not have to push our packages, we usually are fairly well subscribed. We are promoting all these new products and treatments through our online channels (web shop) as well as 100+ Dermalogica accounts across the nation. We are also tying up with dermatologists as many people consult them for their skin care needs.”

Says Gupta of Bodycraft, “Most of our brides approach us through word of mouth and are interested because we offer some of the best pre-bridal and bridal service options. We also plan to tie up with some other brands like expert designers/ photographer and jewellers to be able to provide our bride with a well-rounded and complete approach. We have just launched our look book for this wedding season and that should also help the brides in getting better clarity.”

Ramishvilli shares, “The best strategy has been to deliver the highest standards in the beauty market. That has worked immensely for us and almost all customers turn into regular clientele after their fi rst experience at our salons. Strategic tie-ups have also helped further our brand reach and create recall in the minds of our target group. We have worked with Indian Resort Fashion Week, Falguni and Shane Peacock, Miss Diva and others in the year.”

Says Bakshi from Kérastase India, “Kérastase is present in the most exclusive luxury salons across India. Every individual’s Kérastase experience begins with a personalised consultation and diagnosis of the scalp and hair. Based on the diagnosis, the appropriate Kérastase Ritual or product for home care is recommended by the Kérastase Ambassador. The client is invited to experience a Kérastase Ritual at the Kérastase Institute, a dedicated cocoon of luxury where the client is personally attended to by the K Ambassador or Therapist.” In fact, last year, to educate consumers on the importance of a healthy scalp, they introduced Oil Rituals from a range in Kérastase called Elixir Ultime. This range has a technology called Oleo Complexe, which is a combination of four oils – Argan, Maize, Pracaxi and Camelia. These Rituals not only condition the hair, but also relax the bride before the wedding day.” Saha did not adopt any strategic measure to increase marketing or distribution so far, instead focused on satisfying each customer with their services. This act helped them create a loyal customer base and this year onwards, they intend to take things ahead for both the salon services and the institute. Says Saha, “We will be looking at generating more awareness about aura cleansing, chakra cleansing therapies and astrotherapy services which are unique to our salon.”

The strategy adopted by Naturals is simple – it is to offer the best services at an affordable price. Says Veena, “We believe it’s all about the journey to the big day and not just the wedding day for a bride and together we strive towards it.”

Says Singh from Rock Paper Scissor, “Apart from providing an excellent service to each and every bride that we work on, we are going a step ahead helping them have a great experience in the salon, which could start as early as a month prior to their big day. We have put together customised packages that include hair, make-up and sari draping.The add ons that they can choose from are pre-hair and skin treatments, nails and more. We also try personalise the look based on the clothes (colour and style) and the theme of the wedding. We have put together packages for all the events such as sangeet, mehndi, cocktail for the bride as well as family.”

Runah Salon is very active on the social media and word of mouth is the best kind of marketing. Says Kakoli Sengupta, Make-up and Styling Expert, Owner of Glitz & Glamour in Kolkata, “We try to understand the client’s requirements and accordingly design the services which gives maximum result for the client. Rather than selling, we believe in showing the result to the client which automatically brings

Says Dr Mittal, “The only strategy we follow is to make ISAAC, a one-stop solution for any concern related to skin hair beauty-wellness using FDA approved technologies imported from all over the world post extensive market research intended to address the clients in the most effective, effi cient and the most ethical means possible.”

While Ramishvilli feels that strategic tie-ups have worked well for Dessange, for Dhariwal of Worship Salon and Gentleman’s Tonic, the only strategy that works is giving their best to the client. Last year, Naturals introduced mineral make-up for which they got an overwhelming response and are likely to have the service on their menu, this year as well, apart from introducing new packages for the bridal couple and their respective families.

Thukral is assured this year as Natio is by now reasonably well known in India. Says she, “For this season, we have made available our products online, at Flipkart and our five EBOs. We will be starting a campaign online on our FB page for this bridal season. Also, discounts will be running in the stores. We also have a sales team in place to target the best of salons and make products available to them. Mall events and activities are something we are looking at where we would be doing make overs to encourage customer trials. Natio’s colour range, inspired by nature, is our
unique proposition.”

Expectations from the season

Lakmé Lever is upbeat and looks forward to the launch of their Show Stopping Hair collection, along with the Lakmé Salon Bridal Dream Team and NutriStraight Quadra Hair Therapy. Naturals is expecting to seemore and more to-be brides to come and  avail of their special bridal packages and can literally envision a hike in the bridal make-up category. Earlier brides to-be visited salons for hair and make-up on their wedding day, however, the scenario has changed. Brides are visiting salons for several pre-bridal make-up sessions to finalise on their D-Day looks and this trend is
rapidly growing.

Says Dr Mittal, “People are becoming more aware and informed. They want instant results with no downtime. Also there is a trend of one sitting treatments. We have come up with more than promising results with single sessions alongside zero downtown. We expect to live upto the expectations of the clients while adhering to the ethical treatment standards.”

Singh is positive and is expecting an exciting and extremely busy season. “Exciting because we are seeing a trend in which clients have evolved from having a traditional look to trying out new and fresh ideas. We now see a lot of brides and people attending weddings asking for messy buns as opposed to the typical neat ones, top knots are in, too. Messy fish braids are an option for cocktail parties, which add the element of fun to their outfi ts. This allows our creative skills to be challenged and think out of the box. And it’s fun.” Says Honawar, “This season is going to be very busy in parts. End of January for example, we are super busy. The good thing is, now a days, the bride knows exactly what she wants and that makes it a lot easier for us to plan this.”

Reveals Sengupta that the season is expected to be good and she is booked till March 2015. Shyam, feels likewise when he says that he already has enough bookings and it’s the middle and upper middle class that’s willingly going to spend a lot on beauty and wellness. For Footworks, Thomas is going for BTL activities to promote their Gift Coupons. About 70 per cent of their customers visit them through ‘word of mouth’ publicity.” They have a high number of newly married couples coming for ‘Foot Refl exology’. Says Thomas, “Last year, we introduced a special offer of ‘Two Ka Three’ for newly married couple and it was an instant success. This year we have a 20 per cent discount offer on their subsequent visit.”

Says Amlani, “We are expecting a small number of clients on whom we an focus. We have grown by 50 per cent each year and we expect the same this year. Since we offer customised treatments, we found that many friends of the bride to-be and groom to-be and the extended families, also came to us for treatments. We have even treated 10 members from a single wedding group. We are going to continue this focus on quality to
maximise the returns this year.”

Signs off Thukral who says that this year she expects Natio’s sales graph to grow. Shares she, “We’ll be encouraging our customers to experiment with natural looks to discover their own true beauty. Once they see how effective natural looks can be, it’s likely, they will be long-time Natio customers. Last Year, we launched Natio at the same time and we were much accepted by the people.”