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Looking good today!

chandigarh Updated: Nov 10, 2013 09:51 IST
Madhusheel Arora
Madhusheel Arora
Hindustan Times
Highlight Story

Looking good and standing out, these are our fundamental desires. There is no business that perhaps taps more on this instinct than the beauty and cosmetic segment.


A small-ticket business for a retailer, it is a hands-off trade, but is worth Rs 45,000-crore nationally. There is only a limited amount to learn as customers are unwilling to invest time in getting to know anything about the product that they somehow trust will transform their skin-colour in x number of weeks.

Organised salons have gained ground in the tricity, with customers rushing into branded salons and run by makers like L’Oréal Professionnel, Matrix by L’Oréal and Wella and Sebastian by Procter & Gamble. Here, products are used and paid for with instant feedback for the manufacturer.

The tricity customer somehow seems unwilling to accept the price of these products at face value. Every third customer asks for discounts, something you rarely see here.

Men’s beauty care and grooming has now matched women’s and we are spending an equal amount in the segment.

A fancy haircut, shave and tattoos, the latest fad, seems to be the most popular. Tattoos are quoted for as much as Rs 5,000 at malls. Another inthing is a groom package, marketed aggressively.

Shah Rukh Khan recently said even in recession, the lipstick market never dips as it is a bit like entertainment. You never stop spending on looking after yourself, he suggested. You tend to agree.
The business is a low-risk venture for people wanting an easy life with the name of a business and it finds resonance with the residents here. I have two examples, where people closed their other great-running shops to get into this, ostensibly for the less hassles the trade offers, with margins from 10-27%.

Advertising and promotion comprise a big part of the experience of getting the public to put their money. What sells is perception, true of everything in life, but even more here.

The business is riddled with duplicates and Chinese products. A retailer told me that these look identical to the original product for a buyer and even to greenhorns in retailing, but there is a little difference in finishing. For instance, in hairclips, the edges protrude out and can hurt your kid. There are quality local brands too like Parag and Lily’s for combs, for that matter. We are also an exporter of cosmetics, even as we tax imports on the higher side.

Things I wish that must change in the business is the way it is sold and the overkill on targeting men, though the recent ban on using animals as guinea pigs is a challenge.

A well-groomed man is good, makeup is OK; but dandies is a no-no.

Can anybody explain, what does an AXE-effect has to do with a guy getting a woman hooked on. It is grotesque and gross.

As I close, perhaps we should know that a lipstick can even be made at home as some websites proudly proclaim, as can be nail polish. Most other products can also be homemade. It is a secret most of our greatgrandmas have taken to their graves

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