Spreading Clean Beauty

The potential of the Indian market in line with the growing trend in traditional cosmetics, by Dilip Raghavan (HPCI India)

INTERVIEW Dilip Raghavan – Indian Cosmetics and Personal Care Industry

Dilip Raghavan

With a bachelor in Technological Engineering and a professional life fully dedicated to the domain of paints/inks/coatings, textiles and polymers/plastics/packaging, Dilip Raghavan is now specialist in the personal care sector in the Indian market.  After 20 years of experience in Technical publishing, he is now the Managing Director of Colour Publications, editor-publishers of leading industry journals and trade shows like Paintindia and HPCI.

Dilip, as a specialist on the personal care market in India, you help all kind of enterprises that want to enter -or that already are settled- in the Indian market: producers, packaging or ingredient suppliers, etc.  They all might ground their developments on your articles and market insights. In a few words, how would you describe the Indian Beauty Market? 

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The Indian Economy has been one of the fastest growing large economies the world around since the last few years, growing consistently at a pace of between 6-8% in the years 2010-2019. While this growth has been equitably split between manufacturing, services and agriculture, a large part of this growth has been fuelled by increasing consumerism and the growth of the FMCG segment, which in turn has Cosmetics and Home Care as one of the key sectors of growth.

The Cosmetics and Personal Care industry in India is valued at about USD 18 billion and is growing at about 16% CAGR. The Bath-Shower and Skin-Care product lines are the largest segments, constituting about 40% of the market. Colour Cosmetics and Professional Beauty products are at a much lower level than global averages and are slated to grow very rapidly in the next few years. In the past, the market for men’s products was practically non-existent, though it has now picked up over the last decade or so, and currently men’s grooming products are growing at the same pace as other product lines. Given the established nature of Oral Care and Hair Care products too in India, which also continue to grow significantly, it all points to a very robust and sustainable growth for the Cosmetics industry in India.

Could you please mention any relevant shift that you have appreciated in Indian consumer in recent years?

Geographically, the sales of beauty products in India were confined to the major cities across India till about 15-20 years ago. However, a greater disposable income and spending power has meant a spurt in sales growth in Tier-2 and Tier-3 cities, and also in rural areas, where the growth has now even surpassed that of established Tier-1 cities. The advent of e-commerce has also fuelled the sales of Cosmetics by providing enhanced convenience, options and market penetration. 

Could you tell us a few key points of your forecasting for the upcoming future? What can we expect from the beauty sector in India?  

As the penetration of cosmetics into the Indian consumer base increases, there is also an overall trend of increasing premiumization where consumers are steadily showing an inclination to buy more expensive products based on enhanced safety, quality and functionality, and also fuelled by a growing sense of aspiration. This also paves the way for the adoption of quality ingredients, manufacturing practices and R&D in the Industry. The regulatory framework surrounding the industry in India is also getting more stringent.

The demand for natural products or products based on natural ingredients, including the concept of Ayurveda or wellness, has seen an immense interest, and is being explored by new players and established players alike as a new avenue of business. This initiative has also received support from the concerned Government Ministry and promises to be a macro-trend going ahead.

A population of over 1.3 billion people, with over 65% of them in the median age of 15-64 years, and with a middle-class population of over 400 million people with rising disposable incomes, and a greater aspiration to look and feel good are all compelling factors that points to bright prospects for the Indian Cosmetics and Personal Care industry over the next decade or so.

With such promising future for the sector, and market in general, we are sure that cosmetic researchers are increasingly keeping an eye on the Indian consumer preferences for their developments. From your perspective, what would you say are the main beauty concerns for the Indian consumer? What does it differ the most from the rest of the world? 

First and foremost, the Indian consumer mindset and outlook towards Cosmetics and Personal Care has evolved from earlier being a luxury to now being a part of their daily life. Consequently, it has percolated down to the masses, and this is one of the reasons why we are seeing such a large growth in this industry in India. Of late, this has been accompanied by a demand for enhanced quality and differentiation leading to a value growth, over and above the volume growth. 

Due to the tropical climate in India, heat and humidity are significant factors that influence the needs and consumption patterns of the Indian consumer. Fairness creams amongst both men and women is one of the fastest-growing product classes. Hair Oil usage in India is amongst the highest in the world. 

A lot of the ongoing research and innovation in the field of Cosmetics revolves around making products safer for consumers, and using ingredients that help achieve greater product performance, including multi-functional applications. Consumers are also looking towards products that provide a degree of wellness besides the obvious aesthetic element. While Indians are happy to embrace global brands and trends, they are also looking at a certain degree of customization to suit local preferences in terms of skin-tones, rational pricing and climatic considerations.   

India has one of the world’s greatest traditional beauty remedies which – as you mentioned before – is seeing an increase on interest due to the raise of importance of a product’s naturality and effect on wellness. Could you provide us a bit of a market insight on this? When looking for a natural cosmetic product, how do you think the consumer values the naturality of its ingredients? How is the local market responding to ingredients such as natural oils (e.g. Jasmine oil, Arnica oil, Tea tree oil, etc) or other well-known traditional ingredients such as Turmeric?

India has always been a strong advocate of natural products and is inclined to work in close harmony with nature. The wellness aspect is a strong motivator and factor to help further adoption of natural products and products based on natural ingredients. India has a significant global market share of about 10% in the essential and natural oils segment, and is hence well positioned to cater to this demand. The awareness levels of the common person in India on natural remedies is very high and hence the appeal of natural ingredients with specific attributes for specific applications. 

India is also rich in many natural resources that are the underlying source of many oils. Whether it is driven by aroma (jasmine, lavender, etc.), therapeutic use (eucalyptus, neem, turmeric, etc.), hygiene (citronella, etc.) or comfort (mint, menthol, etc.), many companies are now producing these products as a core or supplementary part of their portfolio to cater to Indian consumers. 

The certification and authenticity of these natural products remains an area of concern, and as companies work hard on overcoming this limitation, the credibility for these products will grow and become even more important and relevant going ahead.

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