Almost half of households (49%) said the Covid-19 pandemic has made sustainability even more important to them, according to a report by Kantar. As more brands take the sustainability route to connect with consumers today, cosmetics company The Body Shop, an early entrant into the space, is looking to bet big on formats. sustainability-focused stores. It plans to open three new stores every month over the next year, including a new activist workshop store format as well as regular stores. In a conversation with BrandWagon Online, Antara Kundu, Managing Director, Marketing, Brand & Customer Acquisition, The Body Shop – South Asia, talks about the importance of being sustainability-focused, The Body Shop’s expansion plans Body Shop, and more. (Edited excerpts)
Currently, durability is an important element in the market. As one of the early entrants, how do you ensure you stay clear of the chaff?
The brand started in 1976. And it was one of the first pioneers of what we now call corporate social responsibility (CSR). The brand has been around for more than 45 years and more than 17 years in India. Sustainability is sustainable if it makes sense for the brand, the company and the consumer together. Within our category, The Body Shop is one of the few brands that has truly lived up to this. If you look at our key sustainability drivers, Community Fair Trade is the largest fair sourcing program within the cosmetics industry. Other than that, if you look at the campaign history of The Body Shop, since the 80s, Greenpeace, save the whales, stop the Amazon fire, among others are from us and India is a excellent example of action again carried out locally campaigns. Our activism campaigns in the past have included Stop Sex Trafficking of Women and Young Children, Support Her Education, Forever Against Animal Testing and most recently, Project NARI. For us, sustainability is also about our causes that we support, which are environmental and social causes.
While durability has become a bandwagon to jump on, the difference is, as it always will be, in how consistently you do it.
How important is India as a market? How much of the business comes from small towns and cities?
From a global perspective, India is one of the top seven Body Shop markets in the world and if you look specifically at India, in the Asia-Pacific region, it’s a growth engine for the brand. . We do not sell to China. It is also one of the most exciting beauty markets in the world. We have demographics on our side, and there’s a lot of untapped potential from a consumer usage perspective.
As for the markets, we are currently already in about 200 stores in the country. We are fairly well distributed in the non-subways. For example, Mysore has three The Body Shop stores and Jaipur has seven. In the past two months, we have launched stores in cities like Darjeeling and Imphal.
The brand has always believed in being accessible to customers wherever they are, and that includes omnichannel and e-commerce. Between our own e-commerce and third-party players, we serve approximately 30,000 PIN codes in the country. In terms of activity, retail accounts for about 65% of activity, while online amounts account for 15%. The 20% balance is purely omnichannel, which is a recent and post-pandemic development. Online, our own e-commerce channel accounts for approximately more than 60% of revenue, followed by other marketplaces such as Nykaa, Myntra, Amazon.
In terms of scaling, we plan to expand the omnichannel footprint. Over the next year, we will be adding three stores per month.
Where does The Body Shop stand among its competitors in India?
From a pricing perspective, we are in the right place for a market like India because we are a top player, but we are not a niche player. India is a very price-conscious market and we made strategic calls. From a business and affordability perspective, our bath and body segment is a category focused on customer acquisition. Our shower gels start at Rs 345. If you look at our top selling product in India by volume, it is British Rose shower gel, which is priced at Rs 345. We also have lip balms, cleansers for the face that are at an affordable price. points, but as you move into higher performance or loyalty categories such as skincare, you’ll have more expensive products.
There is a lot of brand confidence in the market as we were one of the first international beauty players to come. We also have a price advantage, in fact earlier this year we looked at an affordable price game in certain formats. For essential formats, such as facial cleansers, shampoos, conditioners which are regularly replenished for any customer, we have maintained a fixed price of Rs 595. This will ensure that our loyal consumers can always afford the brand. . And beyond that, we have launches such as Edelweiss, which are higher performing, niche products that are priced higher.
What is the hero category and why?
Our first category is skincare. India on skincare performance is over-indexed compared to Body Shop globally. Then come the bath and body and hair care. The benefit of being strong in all three of these categories is that it’s a good mix of bath and body that’s an easy category to recruit, people buy more frequently, and restock more frequently. Skincare and haircare are loyalty-driven categories, so once a consumer finds a product that really works for their skincare or haircare concerns, it’s highly unlikely that he changes. Bath and body, on the other hand, is sensory, it’s indulgent. And then we have makeup, perfumes, gifts.
Generally, consumers tend to enter the brand through bath and body, which generates good volumes for us. As the size of the portfolio grows and they look at more formats or more categories to try, they then move into skin care and hair care.
So while the concept of sustainability has started to take hold in the metros and stuff and people relate to it a bit more, how difficult is it when it comes to tier two markets and three ?
We will be opening at least three new stores every month for the next year. Most of them will be in small towns and cities. Earlier this year, we launched the sustainability-focused Activist Workshops store format, which is a big gamble for us.
It’s a truly sustainable store design concept. We also launched our in-store recycling program, which is called “return, repeat recycling” in stores. We have in-store recycling bins in all of our stores. Customers can bring their plastic empties, just drop them off at our stores. So that’s something we’re advocating to educate consumers. We work with local recycling partners nationwide to recover, recycle and reuse it. We are also looking at how to reuse it and bring it back to our stores as well.
The store expansion I mentioned will also include new stores in an activist format. We believe that activist workshop stores are not just for consumers in the metro, but across cities. From an education perspective, thanks to this digital boom, small town consumers are very ambitious and demanding.
What will be the marketing strategies?
Many of the marketing choices we make depend on our accessibility. Our type of brand requires storytelling, so we need to find the right marketing channels that lend themselves well to this type of storytelling. Online is a huge bet for us and for a long time because digital platforms like YouTube, social networks, allow storytelling, and also allow us to target the consumer who best responds to this kind of storytelling who is young, ethically committed consumers . That doesn’t mean we haven’t done ATL before. For example, in 2019, The Body Shop’s first-ever TV campaign in the world was made in India. So during specific tactical times, we invest in visibility, which is out of home, but consistently, in terms of big bets and marketing, it’s still digital.
Above the Line (ATL) is on the table, as is Below the Line (BTL), but it ultimately has to make sense tactically. So even for the coming quarter, we remain very bullish on digital for Edelweiss precisely because there is so much to say about this range. We’re investing quite heavily in digital, as well as in-store education, because not all consumers are sitting online.
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