Vanity Case on the Web

Vanity Case on the Web

With make-up tips,skincare advice and cosmetic products,the Indian online beauty market is booming

Extended eyeliner with gold glitter and nude lips look for #gauravgupta’s show,” tweeted model Nethra Raghuraman via the Twitter handle @littleredtote,even as she readied to take to the runway at the recent PCJ Delhi Couture Week 2013 in Delhi. Little Red Tote,a beauty-centric website,launched in January 2013 by Raghuraman and model-turned-interior designer Fleur Xavier,has become an avenue for the two to share their personal insights and years of experience,thereby leveraging on brand equity.

The model friends aren’t the only ones who have recognised the potential of India’s burgeoning online beauty mart. Indeed,with international bigwigs such as Kiehl’s,Sephora,and most recently,Bobbi Brown,setting up shop in India,the industry has seen a growth spurt in recent years. In its wake have arrived numerous websites offering expert advice,tailor-made menus and exclusive products.

When IIM-A graduates Kaushik Mukherjee and Vineeta Singh launched –— “a beauty subscription service to help consumers discover new brands and products that suited them” — in March 2012,it was after extensive research. The duo met similar companies in the US and China to get a sense of the challenges. “Based on our conversations with hundreds of women and a top-down analysis of the secondary data that was available on the beauty market,we believed that India would be ready for a vibrant beauty play in two years and this was the perfect time to establish a brand to be a frontrunner,” says Mukherjee.

This is a factor that former investment banker Falguni Nayar took into account when she launched in December 2012. “A virtual mart addresses issues with beauty retailing that include the wide selection needs of the buyer and long tail inventory,that lead to challenges of stocking,” says Nayar,who believes e-commerce also provides a platform for educating customers and providing advice. It’s this sharing of expertise that Little Red Tote is also hoping to capitalise on. “We’ve had the pleasure of working with some of the most talented people in the field. And bringing this knowledge to the world seemed like the perfect idea for our venture,” says Raghuraman.


Also bringing her own brand of know-how to the web is beauty writer Komal Basith,through,launched in April 2013. The Bangalore-based portal’s mantra is “personalisation”,with a feature called The Finder,a system that matches products to a customer’s needs.

While is a subscription service,where in lieu of a fixed fee,customers receive a curated box of three beauty and cosmetic products from premium brands such as Lancome,Shiseido,L’Occitane,and Bath & Body Works,tailor-made to their needs every month, is a straightforward e-portal selling over 150 mass beauty and wellness brands such as Lakme,Maybelline,Nivea and Ponds. Basith,on the other hand,is specifically targeting the luxury beauty space with brands such as Babor,Phytomer,Pangea Organics,Dermalogica and Thalgo. “Luxury beauty is still in its infancy in India,where shopping for high-end products is often a less-than-pleasurable experience. The onus is on us to do our research and then hope that we get correct advice from sales assistants,which is often not the case,” says Basith.

Each of these sites also has a strong social media presence through a Twitter and Facebook,as well as carry out offline interactions with buyers,hoping that in the fast growing maze of bright beauty ideas their unique selling points will help their e-portals flourish.