Kama Ayurveda: A retail concept that touches the Indian roots

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Understanding the gap in the market for authentic Ayurveda beauty and wellness products, Co-Founder and CEO of Kama Ayurveda, Vivek Sahni launched the brand along with three partners in 2002. The brand, which started with a small line of just nine products, has today become a name to reckon with. Kama Ayurveda has 23 stores in India apart from a strong e-commerce presence. Their product range comprises of seven major categories – skin, hair, bath and body, mother and child care, men’s care, gifting and wellness. Talking exclusively to IMAGES Retail, Vivek Sahni outlines his brand’s journey and summarizes his vision of the evolution of Kama Ayurveda in the near future.
The idea of launching an authentic Ayurvedic beauty brand came to me after I worked closely with Indian artisans while spearheading a packaging project for the Khadi brand. While on this project, we worked closely with Indian farmers and artisans and this project strengthened my belief that Ayurveda and a return to traditional Indian values and crafts is something that held great power for the modern-day consumer. As an avid practitioner of Ayurveda and Yoga, I have always believed in a holistic way of living and this was the seed of the brand that has now become Kama Ayurveda.
Armed with belief and knowledge of authentic Ayurveda as it is truly intended to be, we founded the brand in 2002 with my three partners Rajshree Pathy, Vikram Goyal and Dave Chang to promote the message of true Ayurveda, universally. The journey has truly been rewarding ever since. We built a brand and a business around our conviction and faith in bringing Ayurveda to the world and the world in turn loved our products. Kama Ayurveda was launched with a small line of nine products that were Ayurvedic oils and powders. The fact that the original line of products not only continues today but also forms the heart of our bestsellers is a testament to the fact that efficacious and naturally gentle skin and hair treatments are appreciated by consumers all across the world. While we are still a young brand and have a long way to go, we are proud of giving this country its foremost home-grown beauty and wellness brand that is based of true and authentic Ayurveda.
The Footprint:
Currently we have 23 stores in various cities across India such as Delhi, Noida, Gurugram, Mumbai, Bangalore, Ludhiana, Kolkata, Coimbatore, Chennai and Pune. We are also expanding to newer cities as we speak and have increased access to consumers through our presence online on www. kamaayurveda.com as well as premium India e-tailers. Our store are exclusive brand outlets only and it is very important to us to maintain the purity and authenticity of our consumer’s experience. We are available in 36 countries across the world via our international distributors.
The Market:
It is no secret that the beauty business is booming in India and there is a renewed global interest in Ayurveda due to a variety of factors. In India, there is a deep cultural acceptance of natural, holistic beauty remedies as well a rapid increase in purchasing power due to rising disposable incomes. The emergence of online shopping in beauty has also driven growth for us due to our emphasis on consumer education, our foundation in Ayurvedic prescriptions as well strong word of mouth on our products that we are very proud of. However, for us our brand values of purity, efficacy, authenticity, kindness and sustainability speak to audiences not just in India but also to global consumers.
The Customers:
Our positioning is simple – we offer pure, holistic and efficacious treatments for beauty and wellness based on authentic Ayurvedic prescriptions. The key here is authentic – pure and classical – Ayurveda is at the heart of everything we do. Our purpose is to bring authentic Ayurveda to the world through effective formulations as well as elegant and contemporary packaging. Our consumers are women and men looking for safe, gentle and highly effective remedies for their beauty and wellness needs who are also conscious about reducing chemical or non-natural elements in their lives.
The Products:
Our product ranges across seven major categories – skin, hair, bath and body, mother and child care, men’s care, gifting and wellness. We are best known for our iconic treatments such as Bringadi Intensive Hair Treatment, Kumkumadi Miraculous Beauty Fluid and Kumkumadi Brightening Ayurvedic Face Scrub. Our high quality, beautifully packaged products are sold globally and used by some of the world’s leading hotels and spas.
All our brand stores stock our entire line of beauty and wellness treatments – we also do limited edition and gifting collections from time to time. Apart from our award-winning range and the wonderfully warm Kama customer service, our brand stores also have Ayurvedic Doctors who provide lifestyle and wellness advice to our valued consumers.
Pricing Strategy:
Our product pricing ranges from Rs 225 – Rs 2,295. Our consumers place a premium of the purity and efficacy of our products rather than judging our range purely by price. Our bestsellers are Bringadi Intensive Hair Treatment, Kumkumadi Miraculous Beauty Fluid, Kumkumadi Brightening Ayurvedic Face Scrub, Organic Coconut Oil, Eladi Hydrating Ayurvedic Cream among many others.
Location Strategy:
Location is key. Our location strategy is currently a mix of malls as well as high street – for both formats we look at prime real estate with high footfalls. We do have shop in shop outlets at select Shoppers Stop stores and also retail from select premium outlets like Good Earth, The Box by The Park, Amethyst and Taj Khazana.
The Stores:
The average size of our stores is 300 sq. ft. Our store formats currently are Exclusive Brand Stores only. While in terms of size they differ depending on the space availability, the store design, products available et al, are all uniform across our stores. Our consumer profile is largely women in their late twenties and above, well-educated and well-travelled. She is a contemporary, discerning woman who consciously chooses more holistic and healthier alternatives in her daily life.
Customer Loyalty:
We launched our exclusive Rewards Program ‘Amaaya’ in May 2016 and the response from our consumers has been phenomenal. It is our special privileges club and as a valued Amaaya member, our consumers can earn points every time they shop with us. Amaaya members also get access to a host of other benefits including new product previews, special offers and exclusive experiences with Kama Ayurveda.
Marketing Strategy:
Our marketing strategy has evolved as the brand has grown – in the beginning we had almost no marketing except for the word of mouth about our products. Today we are focusing our energies on wider channels of marketing but what has not changed for us is listening closely to our consumer. Our discerning and passionate consumers are the driving force behind everything that we do – whether it be new product launches or new store location, we listen closely for their suggestions and feedback. We believe that as long as we remain close to our consumers’ needs and desires, business will be a natural result.
Expansion Strategy:
We are looking to expand our footprint in cities where we are already present as well as take our brand to newer locations. We have recently opened stores in Pune and Ludhiana apart from adding stores in Mumbai and Bengaluru. We are not looking at franchising options at present.
We have Ayurvedic Doctors in our store who provide health and lifestyle advice to our consumers. Often our consumers have questions or concerns beyond our products alone and our highly experienced Ayurvedic doctors help address these quickly and efficiently. Our doctors are not there to sell, they are practicing physicians in their own right and this is a complimentary service available at Kama stores.
Online & E-Commerce:
E-commerce is a critical growth factor for us and the online boom in beauty buying has really helped our brand grow and reach out to newer consumers India and the world. While we cannot share any revenue numbers, it is safe to say that our online channels are growing at a rapid pace and we are looking to amp up our efforts online. Apart from building a rich and engaging brand site that provides fast domestic and international shipping, we have also partnered with key online partners to increase our online capabilities. A unique factor on our site www.kamaayurveda.com is the Complimentary Trial feature wherein consumers can pick free samples of their choice and have it delivered to their home for a nominal shipping fee.

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