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We plan to focus on tier-3 and tier-4 cities: Vishal Chaturvedi, The Body Shop

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Vishal Chaturvedi, vice president of The Body Shop (South Asia) provides insights into the beauty brand’s growth, marketing strategies, its steadfast commitment to ethical practices and much more…

Bengaluru: For some businesses, like The Body Shop, the purpose of existence transcends profits. “Business shapes the world. It is capable of changing society in almost any way you can imagine,” Anita Roddick, founder of the B Corp-certified global beauty brand The Body Shop is quoted saying.

One of the global pioneers in ethical and sustainable beauty products, The Body Shop has long been a beacon of hope for those seeking to marry commerce with conscience. The brand was founded in 1976 in England by Roddick, a British businesswoman, human rights activist and environmental campaigner.

What started in a little green painted shop in Brighton, England is today a global chain boasting 3,200 retail locations in more than 72 countries.

The Body Shop has been operational in India since 2006 under the management of Quest Retail Pvt Ltd, a Delhi-based cosmetic manufacturing company. At present, it has over 200 stores spread across 75 cities in the country.

In an exclusive interview with IndiaRetailing Vishal Chaturvedi, vice president of The Body Shop (South Asia) discusses the beauty brand’s growth, its marketing strategies, distribution channels, and its commitment to ethical practices in India.

What factors are driving the brand’s growth in India?

The Body Shop’s expansion in India can be attributed to a multifaceted approach rooted in ethics, innovation, and consumer-centricity.

Firstly, the brand’s commitment to ethical and sustainable beauty products aligns with the increasing demand for eco-friendly and cruelty-free choices among conscious consumers. Secondly, India’s burgeoning middle-class, marked by rising disposable incomes, provides a fertile ground for premium personal care products. Moreover, the brand’s strong emphasis on community engagement, fair trade practices, and empowerment of local artisans has solidified its market presence.

Marketing strategies, characterized by creative and socially conscious campaigns, have resonated with a diverse audience. Also, the company’s strategic store expansion, featuring various formats, ensures a broad geographical footprint.

How has the brand grown in India compared to other countries?

India is one of our biggest markets with a goldmine of potential. It is among the top five markets globally in terms of annual sales. In FY (fiscal year) 2022, we managed to reach pre-Covid-level sales in India, with a gross revenue of Rs 550-600 crore.

On a global scale, The Body Shop’s top three markets are the UK, Indonesia, and Australia. However, considering that The Body Shop has gained immense popularity in India with a delivery presence in 30,000 pin codes, we plan on doubling our India business, both in smaller cities and metros.

How do you balance retail and e-commerce channels?

As the lines have blurred between digital and physical, beauty shopping is not restricted to one channel, and in fact, the integration of the two is a must to cater to audience needs.

We adopted an omnichannel approach and expanded our social media presence with tools to assist on-hand product experience. This facilitates a seamless transition between online and offline channels, promoting flexibility and convenience for our customers and enables us to reach a wider audience and maximise sales. Services like Click and Collect, where customers can order online and pick up in-store, exemplify this synergy.

How do you connect with consumers?

Consumers today are more curious and conscious about the products they buy. They seek information on ingredients, packaging, and aligning values. Sustainability, inclusivity, adaptability, empathy, and relevance play a role in their purchasing decisions. We aim to integrate these aspects into our customer interactions.

The Body Shop has adopted a multi-channel approach to engaging with consumers. We offer anywhere shopping service for customers, via social commerce, WhatsApp shopping, assisted sales, home delivery, 2-hour delivery, expert chats, live video consultations and so on.

How do you handle inventory management both offline and online?

We utilize demand forecasting and trend analysis techniques to anticipate customer preferences, allowing us to proactively adjust our inventory. Our approach also involves optimizing inventory turnover to ensure that our product range remains fresh and relevant.

Additionally, we implement just-in-time principles while maintaining a safety stock buffer to prevent inventory shortages during unexpected spikes in demand.

In our physical stores, we ensure there is strategic shelf placement to enhance product visibility and accessibility. We flexibly adjust inventory to cater to seasonal demands and implement promotions effectively.

Can you give an example of any new promotional campaign? 

The Body Shop India, like its global counterpart, curates multiple seasonal promotions and limited-edition collections every year. One such recently launched campaign is ‘Why25’ that encourages the participation of the younger generation in matters related to social welfare. With this initiative, we are addressing the need for the young voices to ‘be seen and heard’.

Who are your distribution partners in the country?

For the past eight years, we’ve established strategic collaborations, such as our partnership with Nykaa. Furthermore, by joining hands with Flipkart, Tatacliq, Amazon and Myntra, we’ve reached even the most remote corners of India.

Can you elaborate on the brand’s loyalty programmes?

Our Love Your Body Club Membership allows members to earn points and gain exclusive offers and rewards whether online or in-store. Some benefits include instant sign-up bonus points, free in-store makeovers, birthday discounts, bonus points on every third visit, free standard shipping, and various rewards, treats, and sustainability initiatives.

Can you elaborate on the brand’s future plans in the country?

We aim to expand to 50 more cities by 2025 focusing on tier-3 and tier-4 cities. Our strategic focus includes expanding our presence in tier-3 and tier-4 cities with untapped potential.

By opening at least 30 activist workshop stores (to recycle beauty product packaging) annually and adding more markets by 2025, we aim to be closer to our consumers, particularly in smaller towns and cities.

We are also resolutely working towards achieving 100% vegan certification from The Vegan Society for our products globally by the end of 2023.

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