‘Natural’ tipped as new growth frontier for Indian skin & hair care products market

Niharika Verma
Niharika Verma Sep 29 2017 - 5 min read
‘Natural’ tipped as new growth frontier for Indian skin & hair care products market
As consumers switching to natural ingredients based products, which may incorporate herbal, organic or Ayurvedic ingredients in its formulation, a broadening scope of growth is foreseen for Indian and international product manufactures

So far, the largely untapped nature of the Indian market was the natural ingredient products category which has grabbed focus of hair and skin care products manufacturers and promoters.

Favourable demographic factors and increasing beauty consciousness has indicated high demand of personal care products, specifically in skin and hair care category.

An increase in both, the availability and popularity of natural and nature-inspired skin care has led to an increasing number of players entering the category. And, on one hand growth in the category has been driven by continued demand for more skin-friendly formulations, while on the other hand premium and pharmacy brands with natural credentials are also fueling interest in this arena.

“It is crucial to select premium products that give satisfying results. For spa products, the preference is always given to mostly natural products that have minimal or no chemical content. Such considerations are important so that we select the right product and rule out the possibilities of side effects, which is usually in the case of synthetic products. One also needs to ensure that the chosen product is compatible to all skin types,” said Nilesh R Kantak, Spa Manager, Club Olympus Spa & Fitness, Hyatt Regency Delhi.

The key trend witnessed in the industry at present includes nanotechnology and green chemistry besides others, which has influenced the strategies of existing and emerging players. The eventual winners would be those who ensure better value offerings to meet the needs of the Indian consumers.

Surpassing the tradition

Indian beauty & wellness industry has been influenced strongly with the ancient practice of Ayurveda surpassed by generations in the form of home-remedial methods. Even though, the changing lifestyle and westernisation has influenced Indian consumers, who have discarded the ancient practice of hair cleansing and body care by using chemical-based products.

However, Indian consumers couldn’t afford to ditch the traditional practices completely. Till today, consumers prefer to apply hair and skin care packs, Ayurvedic herbs and oils, which is the influential part of Indian Wellness since ages. This loyalty towards traditional beauty products has helped various dedicated brands like Kama Ayurveda, Forrest Essentials, SeaSoul, Soultree and many more to establish good niche for them.

“We’ve managed to gain immense popularity since the inception of our brand in 2002. The brand enjoys a huge fan following and has become a preferred Ayurveda wellness products brand across India,” said Vivek Sahni, Co-Founder, Kama Ayurveda.

Role of emerging trends & technology

The changing face of the product market is perhaps best reflected in the corresponding developments in the skin and hair care space. Specialty chemical manufacturers like L’Oréal supplying to personal care are adopting ‘green chemistry’ principles to meet consumers' demand for natural products and increasingly stringent regulatory requirements. This includes both product changes featuring higher proportion of natural ingredients as raw materials and a move to ‘greener’ production processes based on better energy conservation, safer solvents and minimization of waste generation.

Advances in the area of nanotechnology are helping researchers create breakthroughs in biotechnology thereby enabling greater usage of natural ingredients. Also, strong demand for multi-functional products such as silicones with improved sensory characteristics and surfactants with anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties is being witnessed.

In fact, the market share of natural based products gradually increases, which has built good pressure on the big brands like L’Oreal, Wella and HUL to focus on sustainability and reduce on their environmental footprints.

International brands playing hard

Multinational players with international brands like L'Oréal Paris, Wella Professionals and even L’Occitane have a strong presence in the Indian formulation segment. These big brands are gaining a strong foothold in the market by innovatively developing value offerings to meet the unique needs of the Indian consumers. Going further, it would be significant to develop R&D capabilities to further customize products for Indian consumers, create greater awareness among the burgeoning middle class and ensure effective distribution reach to service them.

Meanwhile, Gilles Moutounet, Country Head, L'Occitane en Provence India, “L’Occitane is all about sensoriality and natural products. We were one of the first brands worldwide to focus on this aspect more than 30 years ago and we are still leading the space through all the experience gained since our inspection in India about 5 years ago. The brand enjoys a good recall thanks to its strong worldwide presence.Moreover the cosmetic category in India is also growing very fast. A large portion of our business comes from our existing customers who are loyalists who still came to our stores for their refills.”

The companies that are able to develop a judicious mix of the above will be the eventual winners. The time is ripe to review one’s strategy and come up with innovative approaches to help realize the full potential of the Indian personal care sector, where the ingredients market is likely to double in the next four years.

Adequate space for small players

The emergence of natural products in Indian wellness space has given a push to various small players like Iraya, Oshea Herbals, The Vedic Collections and various others.

Darling of small salons in India, Oshea herbals’ Director, Dilip Kundlia concluded, “India has very bright future for skin care business as skin and hair care awareness is increasing day by day and with the same speed markets are also growing. You can say India has a huge market for new innovative skincare products.”

Backed by facts and phrases shared by various big and small players, it is easily predicted that in the years to come, the demand and growth of natural products in the hair & beauty segment would be the best area of investment for the traders.

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