For someone who loves all things beauty, international brands or the much-viral luxe products will always seem enticing. To open your cabinet and see that chemical peeling solution or that kojic acid serum — for which you burnt a hole in your pocket — can be exciting. After all, the reviews have been amazing and beauty bloggers, too, have given their seal of approval.
But what about local beauty products? How many of us have actually considered using them knowing fully well that they are clean, vegan, organic, and Ayurvedic, and that they are easy on the wallet, too?
According to a report by Goldstein Market Intelligence published in May 2020, “India cosmetics market is valued at nearly USD 11.16 billion in 2017 and is anticipated to grow at a CAGR of 5.91% during the forecast period 2017-2030”.
Take Mcaffeine for example — a local skincare brand that has been helped by PM’s ‘vocal for local’ campaign. Its founder Tarun Sharma tells the indianexpress.com that they have seen “a tremendous amount of change in people’s choices”. “In fact, the Make in India campaign did the same thing last year. People have been showing more love and we are grateful for the same,” he says.
Pragya Negi, a twenty-three-year-old HR professional and an avid user of local beauty products, says: “I was always a firm believer of trying Indian beauty brands because the market is full of international brands which often fail to cater to the needs of the Indian skin. The vocal for local campaign has nudged us to buy more Indian products and help these startup brands gain some business.”
Phy, a men’s grooming brand, however, thinks differently. Founder Shankar Prasad says: “We are a local brand but we have never really spoken loudly about it. Our philosophy about consumers, products and brands is not nation-specific.” He does, however, agree that the increase in awareness to support local brands has worked in his favour.
Branding organic and clean beauty
Tjori, another brand, has always been a firm believer of age-old recipes, and founder Mansi Gupta shares: “We, as a wellness beauty brand, believe in the goodness of age-old recipes of Ayurveda and the techniques our grandmothers used to create all-natural beauty products.”
Gupta also points out that while they continue to make strategies for their brand with Ayurveda, sustainability is equally important. “Rather, it has been a choice for us and our consumers, especially with the changing climate and global warming.” The brand had incorporated small initiatives a few years ago by cancelling the use of plastic in their packaging. “We sell our products in cloth-made garment bags and potlis,” she says.
Twenty-three-year old student Shambhavi Choudhary shares that while she had thought of switching to local beauty products long back, the process only started recently. ”I started slow, but it has gradually taken over my cabinet now. I had vitiligo which made my skin extremely sensitive, so switching to Ayurveda was a great idea. Not only that, but they are 100 per cent natural, don’t hurt the environment, are vegan and cruelty-free.”
In recent years, Ayurveda has become a game-changer. In fact, according to a website Research and Markets, “the Ayurveda market in India was valued at INR 300 billion in 2018 and is expected to reach INR 710.87 billion by 2024.”
For Juicy Chemistry, co-founder Megha Asher shares that right from their manufacturing processes to their product formulations, everything is designed in a manner that causes least to no harm to nature. “The products are entirely biodegradable because our packaging is minimal while also being reusable and recyclable.” In fact, ever since the inception of their brand, they have been monitoring their carbon footprint. “We are certified by ISO 14001:2015 for Environmental Management Systems,” she says.
Interestingly, Prasad points out that while it is important for a brand to be environmentally conscious, consumers, too, read the labels carefully. “The adage ‘one size fits all’ doesn’t work anymore because most of our consumers are now seeking out specialist products. In fact, we’ve been pleasantly surprised at the sheer number of people who go through every little detail on the pack and engage with us on what they like and what they don’t, as also suggestions for new products.”
Staying put in the game
When it comes to beauty, consumers have been playing safe for ages. Consumers prefer legacies and word-of-mouth when choosing a beauty product.
In current times, however, this isn’t the case anymore. Sustainability and organic products continue to be a mainstay for many consumers like Negi who says one of the foremost reasons to switch to local brands is that “the ingredients and chemicals used are less harsh and include ingredients which Indian women have been using for ages”. She also says that they are affordable in comparison to other brands. Asher, too, feels that “the pricing point does make a lot of difference”.
Lissa (25), an ESL teacher from Assam, believes that local products have the potential to beat international brands if provided with a decent level of exposure. “I recently made the switch to a cleansing powder that is formulated using 12 plant-based ingredients and has Ayurveda at its base, and I’ve never been happier. Being someone who always relied heavily upon cleansers from luxe brands, I was quite reluctant at first to move to a local brand. But I still decided to give it a go. It’s been a week and my skin is at its smoothest.”
Prasad points out things like specific concerns, ingredients and brand affiliation to larger causes have begun to dominate as choice variables in the consumers’ minds and not just the legacy of the brand. What helps him keep his brand in the game is that he “focuses on the evolving consumer needs”. “Ultimately, it’s in the quality of execution – at the product level and the brand level – that is where the secret to delighting one’s customer lies.”
Asher shares that as a brand, they don’t believe in convincing cbonsumers to shift. “We’ve always believed in educating and informing them about our products, techniques and why we function a certain way. We then leave it to them to make a decision.” She believes that the new-age consumers know what they’re looking for.
In an industry that is so competitive and with consumers who often gravitate towards international brands, for local brands it is their ingredients that act as their USP. Asher says: “Our ingredients are the star! We don’t depend on any synthetics or any fillers. The efforts we take in sourcing our ingredients make us stand apart.” Gupta, too, says that as a brand, they “believe in incorporating modern techniques with century-old measures and that is what helps build a loyal customer base.”
While most brands believe consumers are more aware today, it is evident that the future is all about being authentic. Not only that, but it is also a continuous cycle where both the brands and the consumers study each other. Gupta says it is the data-driven analysis and cycle which allows them to study the customer demands and helps them keep a loyal customer base. “This helps us to launch new collections for our customers to come back and keep asking for more.”
But, it is also important for brands to stand apart. As Asher puts it: “It is all about being true to your motives, and the key to any successful venture lies in the authenticity of the brand and the constant innovation.”
Sharma, too, believes that as a brand, they have always believed in the idea that they “need to be differentiated”. “It is all about how uniquely we meet our consumers’ needs that makes us grow further.”