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Vanity Case on the Web

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

Written by Kimi Dangor | Published: August 12, 2013 4:31:17 am

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

The model friends aren’t the only ones who’ve recognised the potential of India’s burgeoning online beauty mart. 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.

IIM-A graduates Kaushik Mukherjee and Vineeta Singh have launched — “a beauty subscription service to help consumers discover new brands and products that suited them” — in March 2012. The duo had met similar companies in the US and China to get a sense of the challenges of the business and also conducted focus group discussions. “Based on conversations with hundreds of women and a top-down analysis of the secondary data 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 in that wave,” says Mukherjee. This was a factor that former investment banker Falguni Nayar took into account when launching last December. She believes that e-commerce also provides a platform to advise and educate customers.

It’s this sharing of expertise that Little Red Tote also hopes to capitalise on. “We’ve had the pleasure of working with some of the most talented people in the field. Bringing this knowledge to the world seemed like the perfect idea for our venture,” says Raghuraman,whose site offers celebrity beauty secrets,event round-ups and expert advice.

Also bringing her own brand of knowhow to the Web is beauty writer Komal Basith,through,launched in April. The Bangalore-based portal’s mantra,too,is personalisation and customisation with a feature called The Finder,a detailed rating system that matches products to a customer’s specific needs. 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. On the other hand, is a straightforward e-portal selling more than 150 mass beauty and wellness brands such as Lakme,Maybelline,Nivea and Ponds. Basith 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,who aims to add to the luxury experience by providing quality editorial content and more high-end brands.

Even as they prepare to ride the beauty wave,each of these sites has upped their social media antes with a Twitter and Facebook presence,hoping that in the fast-growing maze of bright beauty ideas,their unique selling points will help their web portals flourish.

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