The CEO Magazine India interacts with Parul Budhiraja, General Manager, Brand Strategy and Communication at Cheil India, on the Independence Day.
Parul Budhiraja in her 17 years of career has worked on many Digital First and Big Brands within different categories such as Fashion and Beauty for brands like- Bluestone, Snapdeal Fashion, Bata, Livon, Dabur Gulabari; Mobile and Technology – Samsung, Truecaller, Droom, VIVO, Tata DoCoMo, etc. Also played a key role in the strategy of building the ‘Live Commerce’ practice at Samsung.
To start with Parul, tell us why are these new-age Indian brands in beauty and personal care ruling the e-commerce game.
See big brands can’t cater to niche preferences because they have to create products for a large audience. They also need a singular message keeping in mind their key channel of message distribution - TV broadcast.
But, digital media allowed new brands to reach the smaller segments cost-effectively. So, new brands could create innovative products for niche tastes and preferences.
To give you an example – Mamaearth understood that a segment of consumers are looking for toxin-free, sulfate-free, paraben-free clean products and usually source them when they go outside of India, Beardo saw the trend that most men were sporting beards but didn’t know how to maintain their beard hygiene, mCaffeine understood that people are interested in trying new ingredients.
In jewelry, Bluestone understood that women would like to own dainty jewelry and new designs that they can change often and wear to work.
So, the top reason why new-age brands rule the e-commerce game is that they are catering to customised preferences, and new trends, thus fueling experimentation.
So, if you are a new start-up or thinking of an idea, the foremost thing to define is – what is your core offering and what is your playground – a new habit, a new trend, or a new offering in an existing category?
Once a brand is defined what are the key digital marketing strategies that are most effective for D2C Brands?
Online Store - No matter how big or small the brand is - the first and foremost marketing asset to create is the brand’s online store. Today, one can create an e-commerce site, ready with payment and shipping available in a week with Shopify and WIX.
It’s also the best way to bring alive the purpose, personality, and values of the brand. Moreover, selling from your site has a lot of advantages – it saves commissions, helps your control customer data and service, helps re-target the customer, and even gets their feedback.
Let me give you an example – mCaffeine, a coffee-based personal care brand frequently offers discounts and special offers to its customers on affiliate sites like Cashkaro.
It’s a great strategy to make people switch from the coupon site to their store. The brand also offers free shipping on orders above a certain amount to encourage customers to make larger purchases.
Of course, it’s available on marketplaces that give it better reach and scale but online store is key to profitability.
Influencer Marketing – This is an extremely important strategy for a D2C beauty brand. It helps the brands in creating trust, brand and product discovery, demonstration, and eventually sales.
Furthermore, since beauty and personal care is an extremely high involvement category – consumers like understanding the ingredients, rituals, and regime of application.
Sugar Cosmetics learned from Nykaa and created a program that got these influencers to interact with customers authentically. The conversation is so one-to-one that it convinces the customers to buy into the brands more easily.
Though the influencer landscape has changed drastically from the time that brands like Mamaearth, Sugar were founded in 2015-2016. It’s difficult and expensive to get top influencers.
Hence, early-stage start-ups or brands must look at onboarding a higher number of nano influencers than getting hi-impact influencers which will take away a major part of their budgets.
I have personally seen at Cheil, an influencer program created with gaming influencers that has shown remarkable results.
Social Media Marketing – When building social media strategy for a beauty and personal care brand, one of the most important exercises is to build the content buckets.
Understand the calendar moments that work for you, or which your brand can utilize to adopt or stand out, consistently put good reviews from the customers, work on reviews that need attention and resolve them, and create content that acts as reminders of usage.
The newest trend within social media marketing is ‘Live Commerce’ – this is immensely working specially for beauty and fashion as a category.
Live Commerce is an event hosted on Insta Live or Facebook Live on a brand page by an influencer/an employee/ a stylist to guide people through their usage or products and then inspire people to buy urgently via discounts.
Live interactions help see products in full glory, understand the skin that it would work on, and understand the application – strength, and texture of the product leading to better sales.
Running Digital Campaigns on YouTube and Display – Think of YouTube as digital TV and display ads as short print ads. Digital campaigns are essential to scale and gain customers.
Mamaearth ran many such campaigns ‘Plant Goodness’, ‘Plastic Positivity’, ‘Secret to Glass Skin’, and many more. Performance ads on marketplaces and wherever your critical consumer goes online are crucial for visibility and consideration.