Not only have salons increased their footfalls, the business of beauty is witnessing a revolution like never before. From brands, such as Lakmé launching a make-up app, exclusive skin care brands opening stores on high streets and malls to at-home beauty services are catching the attention of investors/corporates hence mushrooming of academies is proof enough to accentuate the giant strides being taken by this industry.
The underlying fact is that the growth potential warrants merit. Not only international names are now in the country, the community of investors have also grown and they are whole-hardheartedly supporting start-ups, at-home beauty services and developed e-commerce sites. The year 2015, goes down the annals, as a steady year for business development and one that has set the pace for expansion for those involved in beauty and wellness.
A decade ago the preconceived notion was that people were not conscious about quality, durability and reliability while buying styling tools, equipment and brushes. They were content with cheap Chinese products for their requirements. Today, we are happy to state that this is and was only a notion, not a reality. A quality seeking customer exists in every part of the world and India is no different,” says Rohan Kasar, Head of Business Operations at PID India, a professional salon product’s distribution house with its headquarters in Mumbai.
The above was to set the context for the story to follow. The beauty industry in India is changing. Salons are being frequented more these days by those who have made hair care, skin care, make-up and nails art, a major part of their lives. This is also where new brands come in.
Salons are being targeted by business houses in a serious way. Apart from ensuring that the demand for salon supplies is consistent, brands are also looking at salons to be an important retail medium. More and more brands are making in-roads into salons not only for supplies, but also for retail expansion by having counters for customers to directly pick up the products.
The credit here goes to L’Oréal for setting standards for hair and beauty brands to follow. The French company captured the length and breadth of salons in India with its products and branding. The trend continues to gain momentum with each passing year. 2015 saw the launch of many in-salon products and new concepts.
BBLUNT, which had created a niche for itself in the salon industry by styling Bollywood actors, has now entered the product category. They are seen making active in-roads in salons with their dedicated stands. Like wise, Raaga Professionals has managed to capture the market share with its professional line of products.
Allen John, the Chief Executive Officer for beautynewsindia.com shares, “2015 has seen an excellent growth of new products and brands entering the professional beauty industry. Salons have started introducing new services and treatments for their clientele with the focal point being ‘meeting the dynamics of customer expectations’.
The launch of new salon chains and the increase in salon go’ers has been the main development this year.” John is right in pointing out that the industry is booming and there is a cut-throat competition. In this scenario, the brands and service providers need to bring in ‘innovative services’ in terms of salons and customer service, education and support in terms of brands.
Technopak estimates that the market beauty and wellness industry in India currently stands Rs.61534 crores with CAGR of 14 per cent. According to Pakhie Saxena, Associate Vice President-Retail at Technopak, “There exist a significant number of home grown beauty and salon chains that have established presence and gained preference in the Indian market over the recent years. Few of these are LOOKS Salon, Geetanjali Salon, Affinity Salon and Lakmé Salon.
These Indian brands have higher or similar retail presence compared to popular international chains, such as Toni&Guy and are able to offer same standard of services. Also, in this industry geographical proximity and location plays a crucial role in the success of any brand.” Where we have seen international chains like JCB, Truefitt & Hill, Warren Tricomi and others, entering the country, according to Saxena, it is early days yet and it will take time for these salons to become a preferred choice for people in India. The reason could be the price points or the aura they have of being ‘international’ and therefore, expensive.
She further says, “In the beauty and wellness industry, awareness of international salon chains is not as high as international apparel brands. Hence home-grown brands have an equal or greater chance to tap the market and increase their consumer base.” According to John, in terms of products, “For hair care, Keratin products in hair, Dead Sea minerals and rejuvenating facials have done well this year.”
For most of the brands, 2015 was a year of growth and expansion. The year saw launches going full throttle. Brands in cosmetic, skin care, hair colour, hair care and salon tools were seen sprucing up their salon network and at the same time reaching out to people directly via e-commerce operations. Korean skin care brands were seen making in-roads in India. Innisfree is one such brand, which in a short span of about two years, unveiled three stores in Delhi NCR.
Home-grown brands, such as Nature’s Essence, Astaberry, Raaga Professional, amongst others have successfully acquired a presence in several salons across the country. Achal Arya, Director, Astaberry Biosciences says, “The year 2015 saw tremendous growth and expansion in both domestic as well as overseas markets. In the domestic market, Astaberry penetrated into many smaller towns and cities, such as those in Kerala and West Bengal. We introduced our products in many new parlours and salons. Internationally, we participated in Beauty-World Middle East and strengthened our operations in the region.”
Arya’s quote points at the evolution and spread of professional beauty exhibitions in India. Keeping pace with the burgeoning number of salons, spas and academies, many new players have entered the category of participating professional beauty shows in India. One such brand that has spread across shores is Ikonic.
Launched by the young and dynamic Rayed Merchant of Mumbai’s Beauty Palace fame, the brand has made envious in-roads into salons across the country. For Merchant 2015 has been an ‘Ikonic’ one, so to speak. He explains, “We have expanded our horizons in the Middle East in May 2015 by setting up our corporate office and launching the brand in Dubai at the BeautyWorld show.
The office in Dubai takes care of our global distribution and hence it is our global logistics headquarter. We have also started our operations through our channel partners in Saudi Arabia, Nepal, Egypt and soon Ikonic will be available in Egypt and Sri Lanka.”
At Wahl, the brand has witnessed a growth of 46 per cent in 2015. The brand forayed into smaller cities and towns only to realise the huge potential that these places had to offer. Sood shares, “In fact 2015 was a good year for us as we expanded our business and did numerous marketing activities for the brand. We are now in Tier II and III cities and while we had our share of challenges in practically all the palaces of them, however post ironing those out, the growth that these cities are giving us is, indeed, an eye-opener on the potential that exists.
We spread our business to Moga, Bhatinda, Patiala and more, instead of remaining focused on Ludhiana or Chandigarh. While distribution and finding good distributors was the biggest challenge, once those were addressed, we have been witnessing very good repetitive business coming to us from these cities.”
At PID India which represents quality tools for professional use like Kent brushes (UK), Corioliss (UK), Andis (US), Kiepe (Italy) and Eti (Italy) consolidation of distribution network remained the focal point in 2015. The journey of Oriflame in India has been a remarkable journey; more so as the brand directly sells to its patrons without any retail medium in between.
Sharing the dynamics of the cosmetic industry in India, Prachi Mohapatra, Senior Manager Brand and Communications, South Asia, Oriflame India says, “The rising beauty awareness is propelling the Indian cosmetics industry, which has witnessed a strong growth in the last few years.
The country’s cosmetic sector has emerged as one that holds immense growth potential. New product launches catering to the growing requirements will fuel growth in the industry, for which the future appears exceptionally bright. The market size of the cosmetic industry in India was around Rs.58 billion in 2013 and is expected to grow between 15 to 20 per cent over 2013-15. The growth rate for colour cosmetics in India is also expected to increase rapidly making it the fastest growing segment within the personal care market.”
Mushrooming of spas
Where beauty salons and academies have grown exponentially in India, mushrooming of spas cannot be ignored. In fact, the wellness industry is a major contributor for driving tourists to India. Recognising the potential of the spa industry, Khushboo Jain, a young entrepreneur, launched India’s first dedicated and holistic portal called – www.madaboutwellness.com.
Khushboo, co-founder of the concept, talks about the inception, “While working on my first book on the spas of India that won a National Award by the Ministry of Tourism, I started visiting wellness centres. The potential of healing and pampering, at that time, was not known to 99 per cent people in the country! Adding to it, the wellness industry is scattered and does not have a single platform that up-scales the industry and brings all service providers on one single platform for the reach of common man, that is the masses. I was mesmerised by Ayurvedic therapies that are provided by the Indian spas and wellness centres. To bridge the gap between the service providers and users, Anubhav Goyal and I launched this concept together.”
Citing the dynamics as witnessed in 2015, she further elaborates, “The entire wellness landscape has changed. Overall, there were more foreign or NRI bookings in major wellness centres and we have further added more wellness service providers. The market share of each player has increased. The airport spas meant for travellers are doing brisk business. More and more super-foods and edible products are being used for treatments besides the beauty products, herbs and oils used in the therapies.”
Elaborating on the evolution of spas in India and trends being observed, Tracey Poole, Spa Director, Six Senses Spa, Jaypee Greens Golf and Spa Resort shares, “In India there is a growing awareness and increase in the demand for spas providing lifestyle memberships with benefits that offer fully integrated wellness facilities. We have seen a growing interest in them from our male clienteles.”
According to Tracey, social spa-ing is a growing trend, as Indians generally love to spend time with family and friends. Now that is possible and they can even concentrate and improve their health and well being in the relaxing and rejuvenating Spa environments.
Tracey mentions, “Ayurveda in India is popular and we are finding that our international guests have a great desire to experience them. Indian guests often like to experience international treatments, like Swedish Cupping and various Thai Therapies.”
Six Senses is a well-established international brand with over 30 spas and 14 resorts in 19 countries and in 2015, they launched six new projects globally. The Six Senses Spa at Jaypee Greens Golf and Spa Resort is an enviable introduction to the brand in India with upcoming spas already in the development phase in Pune and Mumbai and more are on the anvil within the country and Bhutan.
Cosmetology and cosmetic dentistry
Looking good 365 days means having treatments that are lifelong and with social media becoming one of the most important part of our lives, looking good has, indeed, become a prerequisite. This has given rise to the acceptance of cosmetology in India. With the growth of beauty and hair industry, the cosmetology industry has also witnessed an all round growth in 2015. Permanent make-up has found new takers and so have the other treatments lime laser hair removal, botox, face lifting and more.
Dr. Apratim Goel, Dermatologist and Laser Surgeon shares, “2015 has seen tremendous growth in terms of new launches, new technologies, mergers and acquisitions of health care giants as well as numerous ecommerce website being launched. I think, this can be termed as the golden period of the cosmetic industry.”Sharing key moments from her personal journey covered in the year, she shares, “At Cutis, we were the first clinic in India to launch the HIFU (Ultra former) in India. Following that we have been on the run. So many new peels, skin care products, hair treatments, newer techniques forfillers and botox, skin tightening lasers, as well as acne resurfacing.
This year, I was elected as the Vice President of AFAASI (Association of Facial and Aesthetic Surgeons of India). Being the scientific secretary, we conducted a national conference called Facethetics 2015 in July 2015, which was a roaring success. Additionally, I have presented more than 20 lectures at many national and international conferences on dermatology and aesthetics in 2015. Cutis Skin Studio once again got awarded as the ‘Best Skin and Hair Clinic in Mumbai in 2015.”
Adding further on strides seen in the cosmetology industry, Dr. Mohan Thomas, Senior Cosmetic Surgeon, Cosmetic Surgery Institute reveals, “2015 has been a remarkable year on several counts. The year has been marked by a healthy spend on cosmetic procedures by the emerging middle class, even in the face of an economic downturn! We believe that we will look back at 2015 as a springboard for our planned expansion.
At CSI, we have consolidated our market presence and brand imaging in 2015 through a judicious spend on advertising and also expanding our services by providing on-site surgical procedures in Tier II locations, where the facilities are pre-certified. 2015 marks our first full year steady state operations at our new facility in Mumbai, which includes a fully equipped Operation Room and several consultation and recovery rooms. We have also expanded our suite of services within the non-surgical procedure offerings.”
Thomas’s comment on advertising spend is worth taking note of. Salon International being the mouthpiece of the industry since its evolutionary phase, which was roughly around a decade or so, itself has witnessed a sea change in the approach the industry has towards media. Brands are seen active in collaborating with the media in innovative ways rather than just placing advertisements. Media planning by majority of the brands involved a lot many personal meetings with the core teams of the organization with focal point being that off ‘education’. 2015 has been a milestone year for the industry when it comes to training and education.
Dr. Thomas elaborates, “The most notable phenomenon is the demand for non-surgical procedures, which now constitutes over 37 per cent of our total services. Some of this can be attributable to a need for instant gratification and is fuelled by a changing lifestyle, prodded by a higher disposable income within the upwardly mobile sub 30 demographic. The other feature that is becoming increasingly evident is the awareness and need for grooming, across genders and class. On the supply side, there have been several new entrants in the market, some of them have been able to establish sustained growth, while others are struggling with brand identity dilemmas.”
Complimenting the strides made by cosmetology in India, cosmetic dentistry saw many reasons to cheer as well. Dr. Rumpa Wig, Vice-President, Indian Academy of Aesthetic and Cosmetic Dentistry (IAACD) says, “2015 was superb for Aesthetic Dentistry. The interiors of India, which includes the B and C cities, witnessed a big splash in this dynamic field. In the genre of Restorative Dentistry, Bioactive materials have generated a huge interest due to the ease of use and the treatment having a chair side time of not more than seven minutes.
Also, in the field of teeth whitening, a wonderful resin-based whitening varnish was launched in 2015. Time taken to do the procedure with this, is nothing more than five to eight minutes!” According to Dr. Wig, smile makeovers with effortless treatment protocols and teeth whitening were the most sought after treatments in 2015.
Education and training
Accentuating the need for education and the focus it is receiving since the last year, Isshaa Mahmood, Proprietor, Azalea Marketing Solutions, India shares, “I have always emphasized on education being the key to success in the wellness industry, both from the investor and service provider points of view.This year, we launched our office and academy where we have started training candidates before recruiting them. There is lack of skilled staff and a huge gap between demand and supply. We realised that even franchise companies were not able to meet up with their staff requirements and the franchisee owner would usually turn to us for staffing. This is disheartening for the franchisee owner as without trained staff, his investment falls flat.”
Where Isshaa has launched her academy based on the feedback she received from her clients, Ayaz Kabani, a Canadian of Indian origin who has to his credit the launch of some exclusive skin care and hair styling tool brands in the country, shall be launching his academy for hair in early 2016 by the name – Indian School of Hairdressing.
Ikonic, since its inception in 2009, is a team of over 100 members, which includes Trainers, Managers, Sales Executives and a back end team.Merchant says, “We are based in Mumbai and operate through regional channel partners, which are about 70 in number.”
Sharing details on the promising markets, Merchant says, “The most growing market this year has been Madhya Pradesh, Guwahati and other regions of the east. However, our biggest business generators are Delhi, Karnataka and Gujarat. In 2015, we introduced a range of clippers and trimmers called Maestro, Edge and Pro-Cut and also launched a hair straightener with camber plates called iSense, which is known for its smooth flow and chemical friendly usage.”
As for the journey encapsulated by Oriflame in 2015, Mohapatra shares, “In February 2015, Oriflame announced its entry into the wellness segment. We also added to our product portfolio where our key focus was on skin care and colour cosmetic ranges, apart from launching the True Perfection Range. We expanded our presence in the North Eastern region of Siliguri with Oriflame’s 21st office.”
At Roots Professional, Shahzad Qadri introduced an electric foot filer which has seen a good response from the market. Talking about the same, Qadri elaborates, “Our hero product of the year 2015 has to be Roots Peditrix – the most loved and sought after electric foot filer, as it fills all the gaps in the manual foot filing methods and enhances the overall result and experience. It has disposable filing pads that makes it hygienic. Easy to operate, it is tickle-free and gentle on the heels, but tough on deep cracks and corns. With Peditrix, a salon takes its pedicures up a notch or two.”
At Wahl, the launches for 2015 included a new trimmer called Barber Trim and Professional Thermal Hot Round Hair Brushes and Paddle Brushes. Says Sood, “Our hero product is surely the Super Taper, which is a corded hair clipper manufactured in the US and has our patented Vibrator Motor Technology. We also found sweet success in our 2000 Watts Hair Dryer Super Dry, which has been very well accepted in the market.”
For any business to prosper, the contribution of the people for the ultimate success cannot and should not be ignored. Enrich has a concept of Planet Enrich that has a series of initiatives to take care of their employees. Similarly, other organisations have been seen fine-tuning their HR policies keeping in mind the ‘team spirit’. Sood talks about Wahl, “At Wahl we believe our true strength lies in our people and we keep investing in them. Be it as special incentives or company-paid family holidays or extending loans to team members to fulfill their short-term financial needs, we do it all.
We are a team of 44 people in India besides another 25 on third party payroll and have our HO in Mumbai with our Legal and IP Cell based out of Noida.” To ensure that the sales team at Wahl is tuned to the set targets, Sood has invested in technology. He shares, “We have invested in technology and developed an App that captures all the details of our sales team on a daily basis. This helps us get a better perspective of what’s selling where and how much at the tap of a button on the phone.”
Highlights in Cosmetology
- The term ‘Skin Whitening’ has been understood by consumers as well as providers as unreasonable, unsafe, unrealistic and difficult to chase. Hence a reasonable ‘skin brightening or an ‘even skin tone’ is desired.
- Fairness creams endorsed blindly by celebrities till now have been targetted by the various State government and drug authorities as they contain either steroids or harmful chemicals.
- In India we are seeing a tremendous influx of technologies from all over the world. However in the skin and hair care sector, majority of the introductions in India have been from Korea. There are many skin care products, mesotherapy products, laser as well as light-based technologies that have hit the Indian cosmetic market. However, there are also some other promising non-surgical technologies from the US.
- 2015 has also seen a lot of demand for treatments for body contouring and tightening. Till some time back, we used to see a demand for treatments above the neck. But that is not the case now. Full body lasers, peels as well as other treatments are on rise.
Accentuating the contribution of a robust HR system once it is in place, Qadri shares, “Our head office is located in Mumbai and our sales team is scattered across the length and breadth of our country. The Human Resource solutions have helped break down the border barrier and tied all our employees to a single thread like one big family. And that’s how we at Roots choose to function.”
Dr. Thomas says, “Recruitment which is usually carried out in an ORG pattern has been replaced in our case by need-based hiring which has included aestheticians, marketing and service advisors and accounting staff totaling to 10 per center bench marked to 2014. The concept of channel partners has been adopted for all of our needs for specialised tools, machines and products. While we might have our own line of products, it is not on the cards in near future.”
Hard hitting gaps
Where the growth of the beauty and wellness industry cannot be denied, there are a few grey areas that need to be addressed. Without mincing words and revealing the dynamics, possible gaps and potential of the industry, Rohit Sood, Managing Director, Wahl India Grooming Products Pvt. Ltd reveals, “The industry is growing at 24 per cent CAGR basis, which indeed is a huge growth in any industry. I see this trend to continue into 2016 as well. While we see more organised businesses in salons, it is only 30 per cent of the overall industry size. Hence the potential still rests with the rest of the 70 per cent unorganised businesses.
Getting this segment sorted remains the biggest challenge! Besides we need more education, which essentially does not help, as Indian salons need knowledge and education to ensure that the products from these new brands can be used in the right manner. I see quite a bit of this course correction taking place in 2016 when maybe after having spent huge amounts on advertising and promotions, these brands will realise that they are either not fit for the Indian consumer or are unable to deliver the ‘promised’ result. I see 2016 as a year when we will see renewed focus on education and knowledge gaining and sharing.”
The business of beauty has its ugly side as well. The key here would be finding right partners to support the business operations. Sood elaborates, “Having the right distributor who does ethical business is, by far, the key challenge in India. Also having a distributor commit dedicated resources for a business is also one of the additional challenges faced by all.
A distributor’s willingness to invest in the growth and invest in internal systems to build a strong process based infrastructure is also lacking.” Bigger than the distributor challenge is the challenge of quality training. Elaborating on this, Sood shares, “By far education system and standards for the industry is the biggest challenge I can identify that remains to haunt us all. We need serious attention on this. The salons should understand that it is important for the system to function well only when all the the wheels are oiled.
Salon charge consumers for a hair-cut / beauty service which is provided immediately in cash / through card. Which means they are sitting in cash. But when it comes to paying the suppliers, they keep evading payments for a good 60-90 days. This attitude needs to change to have a distribution channel that is very robust and willing to invest in the business. Overall situation for the industry will change only then.” Based on the experience of having an all India expansion with Ikonic, for Merchant the biggest challenge rests with dealing with the different tax structures.
Brands, salons and service providers are actively partnering with various media to reach their target audience. Facebook and Instagram are being used to not only talk about the products and launches, but also have an active engagement with the target audience. Reiterating the importance of social media, as an important component when it comes to media management, Poole shares on behalf of Six Senses, “Social media and PR have been strengthened in the organisation to be in sync with the market development of these platforms, which are now an integral part of business and the wider world.”
Merchant shares the media strategy in place for Ikonic, “We have been most active this year on social media and been working on our email campaigns when it comes to speaking about our launches and news about the brand. Print media is always been a part of our marketing campaign and we have been performing backstage for the India Beach Fashion Week.”
Enrich Salons is one of the few salon chains in India that has a strong media presence. The credit for this goes to their dynamic director Vikram Bhatt who goes out of his way to speak at length about the industry and his salon and academy. The participation of the company in various corporate events is also commendable. They have an active social media presence, as well. From partnering with NGOs for various fund raising shows to having events in five-star hotels and of course their in-house annual day events, Enrich Salon has carved a niche for itself in the industry.
At Wahl, the biggest marketing initiative undertaken by the company in 2015 when it signed an agreement with Professional Beauty Exhibition to be the Title Sponsor. This agreement has been inked for three years and until 2017, the exhibition is now re-branded as Wahl presents Professional Beauty. Sood shares, “Besides having a booth at the four exhibitions that happen across the country, we also presented two collections, Spring Summer and Autumn Winter, at this platform which was conceptualised and presented by our European Artistic Director and principal Global Educator, Simon Shaw in conjunction with our India Artistic Director, Ity Agarwal. Besides we have also partnered with Times of India to co-sponsor the Mr India competition and have inked an agreement with them for the next three years.”
The brand spends an impressive 10 per cent of its budget on ATL and BTL activities. Road ahead If the current set of challenges and especially that of education are well tackled, the journey for beauty and wellness in India is treading an envious path.
According to Dr. Thomas, “It is generally accepted that the industry size is about Rs.600 billion, with products representing about 55 per cent of the market size. The CAGR for the beauty and wellness industry in India, historically, has been in the range of 18 to 20 per cent, however, in the next three years, it is expected to be around 18.3 per cent. These numbers should be taken with some skepticism since the market is largely unorganised and there are low entry barriers. There is also a challenge with categorising these various non-homogenous services into broad groups. Nevertheless, the general estimates point to a potential, which is not in dispute.”
Talking specifically for the road ahead when it comes to spas, Poole shares, “Although India has been initially slow in the uptake of integrating health, healing and wellness into their lifestyles, the trend will continue to grow in 2016.” Poole sees a growing opportunity for wellness tourism in India. She adds, “Globally Ayurveda is gaining momentum. As the spa and wellness industry grows, so to will the quality of the Ayurveda practices within the hospitals and the spa environment throughout India.”
Arya shares projections based from the experience the brand has had from the product side, “People are getting more aware of hygiene and beauty even in smaller towns. Also they want to explore new products. Many new salons and spas are opening up. Even the economy as a whole is coming back on track. So I am very optimistic that 2016 will be a great year for the industry and Astaberry. We are targeting growth of around 40 per cent in 2016.”
Moving over to projections in the field of cosmetology and cosmetic dentistry, the road ahead for 2016 seems promising, as well. Dr. Wig shares, “I am already in the process of sharing some aesthetic procedures with the undergraduates and fresh graduates, making the science and clinical steps lucid for them, which enables them to kickstart aesthetic dentistry easily in their work areas. We have study clubs and groups regarding various protocols that encompass Aesthetic Dentistry as a whole. We share our cases, tips and methods and much more. Work becomes more enjoyable and fun!”
On a concluding note, Saxena shares, “The market of beauty and wellness is expected to reach Rs.70324 cr by 2016. This is owing to the launch of many new domestic salon and wellness chains, as well as, opening up of international beauty salons in the Indian market. This market is highly competitive.”