It is time to address the issue of professional beauty brands fading too soon from the Indian market. The market offers a plethora of Indian and international products, good products vanish from the shelves. Beauty entrepreneurs are obsessed with their products or concepts and tend to ignore the importance of investing in a robust distribution, infrastructure or technical education. These brands try to use all sorts of shortcuts to build their brand image to eventually fall flat. On the other hand, foreign brands are replicating the European strategy of offering deep discounts in India, failing to understand that the Indian market is a different cup of tea.
The professional beauty products market can be broadly categorised into three segments such as, global professional beauty brands, locally manufactured professional brands and qualitative smaller international brands. Also, in India, the professional beauty market is a congruence of professional brands, salon product distributors, technicians and education academies. With a handful of global brands monopolising the professional beauty services sector, India is in constant need of better products, better technical manpower and more specialised education and infrastructure. Meaning that there is a greater opportunity for all, the smaller international companies need to understand the complexities of distributing in India and hence, the best chance lies in supporting the Indian distributors in making their brand bigger.
On one hand, global brands with deep market penetration target rural areas as they can afford the distribution costs. Their hefty investments go into building brands and perceptions as a certain quality standard is mandatory. They are difficult to match, but have their own problems, leaving gaps for all. On the other hand, domestic companies are investing heavily in innovative brands, producing qualitative products and establishing a distribution infrastructure. It is an uphill task as doing all this at the same time is not easy. What gives the Indian brands some edge is the low cost of production which ensures enough margins to absorb the cost of a sales infrastructure and marketing. The one big mistake that domestic companies make is finding cheaper shortcuts for distributing the brand. Anyone who compromises in building a robust distribution infrastructure is bound to fail irrespective of high investment or quality of the brand.
The third category of brands, the small scale international professional segment player must also look for a good established distribution partner, right product mix for the Indian market and constant investment in education for successful venture in India. An established distribution house needs to have a sales and distribution infrastructure, a qualified technical team and the financial strength to invest in a new brand without disturbing their current operation. Also, they should look at adding a new business, preferably a new segment and invest in it for the next one to three years, before looking for any kind of profit. An established business house looking for an entry into the professional segment is also a good idea. Secondly, the right product mix is important as the market is overcrowded in certain segments with products piling on to each other. This is resulting in negative and unhealthy competition and ultimately resulting in many brands vanishing before making any mark. Most of the products are of inferior quality, without much tech or sales support, finally end in the bin. Hence, each segment needs to be studied carefully and only then result into an offering. Remember the more niche your offering, the deeper your pocket needs to be.
Finally, the success mantra of any professional business is education. More investments in education will translate into technically sound and efficient salon technicians, thus resulting in more sales and a successful brand image.
Having mentioned the above three factors, it is imperative for international brands to participate in building the Indian business as the Indian partner may not be able to do so on his own, however big he may be. Get professional help, people and companies who specialise in setting up sales and distribution infrastructure, some even run it for you. You will have one less worry and the time saved in establishing the brand successfully will save millions and a possible failure in India.