The beauty market has evolved considerably over the years, especially in the last couple of years. Beauty is now defying expectations and redefining itself as a means of self-expression, further encouraging “how you feel” about yourself and shattering standard beauty standards. Beauty technologies, product advancements and sales methods are changing rapidly. It should also be noted that millennials and Gen Z are spearheading the transformation. Reach and penetration have also been boosted by digital transformation and technological advancements.
The beauty and personal care market was $16 billion in 2020 and is expected to reach $28 billion by 2025, according to a RedSeer report. One of the leaders in this segment is The Body Shop India.
Physical stores remain vital for retail
The dynamic has changed since the pandemic. Although many customers now shop online, The Body Shop India’s retail stores remain the heart and soul of its business. Currently, the brand operates 200 stores across India including Tier I and Tier II cities.
“Our best performing markets in India are Delhi NCR and Mumbai. This year, we plan to open more than 25 stores in 12 cities. We are focused on expanding our base in current cities as well as monitoring and expanding in new cities like Varanasi, Imphal, Darjeeling, Amravati among others,” said Vishal Chaturvedi, Vice President of The Body Shop India.
The Body Shop India currently sells in three different formats: shop-in-shop (SIS), stand-alone store and travel retail. With the SIS format, the brand is present in all major shopping centers that are easily accessible to consumers. “All three formats are the ideal option for us as they provide us with a direct line of communication with the customer,” he added.
Recently, the brand also launched the first-ever activist workshop in Mumbai. The new activist workshop store concept is a space for engagement and experience that encourages people to learn more about the brand’s products and campaigns, as well as how we can all work together to have a positive influence on our planet and our communities. This new store concept offers shoppers a place to play and discover while drawing inspiration from the brand’s iconic beauty products and ethical mission. The store sells countertops made entirely from recycled materials that would otherwise end up in landfills. The Body Shop India currently has activist workshop stores in Mumbai and Delhi, and plans to expand the concept nationwide.
E-commerce has become a major channel for the brand over the past two years. In the pre-Covid era, e-commerce accounted for around 10% of its total business, but today it contributes around 25% of its total business. The Body Shop India expects growth to double in the coming years.
Apart from its own website, the brand sells its products on e-commerce platforms such as Nykaa, Amazon, Myntra, Flipkart and Tata CLiQ. The brand has also launched WhatsApp shopping as a test and wants to extend it now.
“Over the past two years, convenience has been the most critical cornerstone. Customers want help, and our assisted selling strategy has helped us grow. We offer video consultations, WhatsApp purchases, same-day delivery and three-hour delivery through partnerships with local logistics providers. There is no single answer; rather, it’s a flexible, multi-channel approach to interacting with customers wherever they are,” Chaturvedi said.
A mixed palette
Currently, The Body Shop India offers around 750 SKUs across all categories. It offers moisturizers, face washes, toners, serums and masks for all skin types, as well as body care products such as shower gels, body butter and bath accessories.
Other well-known categories are hair care, fragrances and makeup.
During the pandemic, the brand expanded and entered a new category of hand sanitizers and washes in line with consumer demands.
“On the product front, we are aiming to become completely vegan by 2023. Additionally, we are constantly striving to make our product packaging 100% recyclable, thereby reducing our environmental impact,” he said.
Introduction of the new pricing strategy
This year, the brand introduced The Body Shop’s best-selling essentials strategic price reduction. The new pricing strategy in India involves a 20-50% discount on the brand’s iconic favorites, including its top-selling Tea Tree and Vitamin E ranges. It was undertaken to keep consumers’ post-pandemic consumption habits in mind and to reinforce its positioning as an affordable yet high-quality, natural and sustainable beauty brand.
“We seek to meet consumer demands for affordable basic necessities and the need for cleaner and greener certified products. This aims to recruit a wider audience and supply the existing essential consumer products including all genders and age groups across the country. We are committed to adopting a customer-centric approach to deliver its products at new discounted prices,” Chaturvedi added.
The Body Shop is a disruptive beauty brand with an edge in the Indian market.
Community programs, communication channels, collaborations and third-party channels are the 4 major pillars of the brand’s marketing strategy.
Community Programs: CFT’s commitment to becoming a purpose-driven company has helped the brand stay true to its activist roots. Credible work is underway in the areas of plastics, waste, packaging and sustainability. Currently, more than 73% of its products are certified VEGAN by the Vegan Society.
Communication Channels: Nowadays, the lines are blurring between the digital and the physical. Beauty shopping is not limited to one, and in fact, the integration of two is essential to meet the needs of the public. The brand has focused its energies on fast service to its consumers as well as on digital, allowing its site to offer an experience on a par with that of its stores. Other milestones include free samples of consumers’ choice on every order; live chats with personal skincare experts and AI-powered product recommendations.
Collaborations: Obviously, collaborations with influencers improve content engagement. It also gives a window to reach audiences in various demographic and geographic groups.
Third-Party Channels: The brand’s collaboration with Nykaa, Amazon and Myntra has helped it find its way into the most remote corners of the country.
READ MORE: The Body Shop India expands its retail footprint and opens a sustainability-focused store in Mumbai
Technology: A Game Changer in the Beauty Industry
While technology is affecting many businesses, the beauty industry in particular has had to quickly pivot and rely on technology during the pandemic. The technology behind AI and ML, as well as augmented and virtual reality, has always been around, but its use in the beauty industry has only recently begun to take shape.
Virtual “try-on” apps, smart skincare equipment, and printed makeup are some of the other emerging trends. In addition, the brand is betting big on conversational commerce, especially via WhatsApp. He believes WhatsApp will be a standalone digital business channel with its own set of use cases and processes.
“Consumers are actively seeking sensory experience, physical interaction, engagement, product touch and feel, and personalized in-store consultation because the need for human connection is stronger than ever. Our omnichannel strategy and technological advancements have helped us navigate new and developing circumstances and reach customers through their preferred channels like social media, YouTube, closed groups on WhatsApp, and third-party portals,” Chaturvedi concluded.