Until a few years ago, skincare routine was all about a basic three-step practice known as CTM — cleansing, toning, moisturising. Consumers usually bought products promoted by word-of-mouth or marketing gimmicks that claimed unrealistic expectations.
Those days are seemingly over now. In 2020, discerning consumers read labels and keep up with trends and brands in an industry that launches something new and exciting every other day.
This rise in consumer awareness, especially during the pandemic, has been spearheaded by the internet, where information is readily available — reviews by beauty bloggers, breaking down of conditioned beauty standards, and an understanding of what your skin is really like.
Dr Aneesh Sheth of Dr Sheths — a brand which formulates a skincare range especially for Indian skin — agrees. According to him, social media is “probably the biggest way” in which they have “connected with consumers”. “They (consumers) get a lot of their information from social media and the lockdown has only given them time to engage more and also question brands,” he told indianexpress.com.
With new beauty products entering the market every day and claiming ‘results in a week’, it becomes almost impossible to build a routine that is tailor-made for you. This is where skincare experts step in, taking note of our skin type, our diet, major and minor concerns and suggesting remedies.
Now, dermatologists, with years of experience and vast knowledge, are even coming up with their own brands.
Leading the way into the market
The coming together of clinical skincare and holistic treatment has paved the way for a new skincare category where you have the perfect skincare formulations and reliable personal care without always needing a consultation.
Clinical consultation is a costly affair anyway; a single visit to a dermatologist can cost you up to Rs 3,000. That is where these brands step in to “guide individuals through a daily skincare routine that is cost-effective”. Suman Dubey, the leading cosmetologist with E’Clat, a homegrown expert-led brand, says, “Such brands have assisted practitioners creating effective formulae and mild products that cater to both, regular skincare requirements and recurring skin concerns like acne, hyperpigmentation, and other issues.”
But how do such brands form a long-standing consumer base?
Vipul Gupta, owner of Re’equil, banks on transparency. “Being honest with our consumers has helped us. If a product takes 4-6 months to show results, we mention that. We would rather not entice the consumer by making false claims.”
Dr Sheth stresses on the importance of offering a good consumer experience. He shares that he dives into customer service channels a few times in the week to know about the major queries and pain points. “The idea that you are there for your community, to educate them, counsel them and make sure they pick the right product shows you care for your customer.”
Sandeep Gupta, the founder of E’Clat, has similar thoughts. “Customer satisfaction is really important for us, and today’s customers are intelligent and powerful. We sell our products with a thorough online expert consultation mentioning the ingredients and the efficacy while presenting a complete safety profile.”
Bottling and formulating products
With transparency and constant communication, such brands have deeply researched products where formulations are explained to consumers. Not only that, safety, efficacy, and source of ingredients are some of the aspects that are kept in mind. Hartej Singh, a dermatologist working with Re’Equil, says: “Each product is formulated keeping in mind the concern and the skin type it is meant for. Some formulations demand specific ingredients, specific pH levels they are most effective at, and thus cater to different skin types.”
Dubey, who says the first step in formulating a product is determining the skin type and the aetiology of the problem, says: “The key to a good product is its ingredients, texture and ability to reach the root problem. So while developing the product, our team keeps in mind the composition as it affects the texture and efficiency of the product.” She adds that while the ingredients are combined, they also keep in mind the concerns to help develop suitable combinations that ensure the product delivers the desired results regardless of the skin type.
Agrees Dr Sheth, who holds his Bachelors in Pharmacy and a PhD in pharmacology: “While I pretty much have the background for formulating products, having the knowledge allows you to separate the wheat from the chaff — even in the ingredients industry, there is a lot of noise.”
What the future holds
With consumers gravitating toward clinical treatments to achieve effective results, the future is bright for such expert-led brands. With no-nonsense claims, good consumer experience and utmost transparency, Rohan Mukul, Director of Labo Suisse India, says “things are starting to look pretty for the beauty industry”.
He adds: “It is now observed consumers have the ‘buy less but better’ mentality. This has led to the very definition of ‘value’ being revisited — now it goes beyond the price of the product.”
Agrees Gupta who says: “Consumers are keen to consult cosmetologists and buy products suitable for their skin. This will only lead to their popularity which could help them surpass established international brands if they continue on their way to result-focused products.”