With the organic skincare category slated to touch $315 million by 2022, Bio Veda Action Research, which owns Biotique, is fortifying its presence in the market. The ayurvedic skincare brand has a TVC launch on the cards, its first in 20 years. Vinita Jain, in a conversation with Ankita Rai, talks about the company’s marketing and retail strategy, the ‘affordable premium’ positioning, plans to foray into services and more. Edited excerpts:
Biotique has been growing 30-35% y-o-y over the last two fiscals, but has never advertised on TV. Why the change in strategy now?
Our business model is ‘farm to store’. Our products are organic, therapeutic in nature and result oriented; even the packaging is biodegradable. This is clearly defined in all our brand communication and store execution which has led to strong growth. It was a conscious decision to stay away from TV so far, but because the market is expanding so much, we plan to launch a TVC in the near future. But that is just one mode of marketing; there are many other ways to communicate with customers. Our key channel of communication is consultancies. We have thousands of consultants who give advice on beauty and skin, both online and offline.
How does Biotique leverage digital and social media platforms? What percentage of sales comes from digital channels?
Biotique has been very active as far as digital and social media marketing is concerned. Our digital spends comprise 15-20% of the entire marketing spends. Lately, we have also used influencer marketing as a tool for brand awareness and promotions. Communication is planned keeping in mind the younger audience. We have collaborated with content creators like FilterCopy, POPxo and TVF, to create unique, brand-aligned content. We have a team of experts working for our social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. E-commerce contributes 10-15% to our sales. We work with all major channels including Flipkart, Nykaa and Amazon.
What is Biotique’s retail strategy?
Biotique has been selling at all major chains, supermarkets, hypermarkets, stores and chemist shops. We are present in more than one lakh multi-brand outlets, which include 2,000 stores-in-stores. We will open 100 company-owned and company-operated retail stores by the next fiscal as it gives more control to offer unique services to consumers. We are not selling a product like FMCG companies; we are giving consumers treatment — a solution for their problems.
At present, Biotique is present in the top 75 cities with a strong presence in tier II and III cities. In fact, expansion in these cities is our key focus area. We also have a huge expansion plan at the local and international level next year.
Around 35% of the business comes from exports now, our key markets being Korea, UAE and Russia, which are very beauty driven.
Are you looking at brand extensions for growth?
Biotique is a health and well-being company, with affordable luxury as its positioning. We are planning to launch a professional make-up line next fiscal. It is a natural line extension for Biotique and a growth opportunity. There is competition in the space, but our efficacy and price points will be the key differentiators. We will also be looking at services by 2020 with the aim to provide actual treatment to consumers through skin clinics.
Do you credit Patanjali for drawing attention towards the ayurvedic skincare market with its mass marketing initiatives?
At the mass level, yes, of course! It is the quest of every company in this space to bring awareness among customers. However, as one of the pioneers in this segment, Biotique introduced the concept of ayurveda and blended it with modern science to create the most innovative and efficacious products back then. When we started, there were no other players.
Several niche start-ups have emerged in the organic skincare space. Are the rising competition and the huge R&D spends the category entails reasons for concern?
Biotique has been in the market for 20 years. Our R&D investment over the last two years has been `450 crore. We have a time-tested legacy. It is difficult for a start-up to have both authenticity and ‘affordable luxury’ price points. Besides, Biotique has its own R&D and manufacturing facility. The whole cycle of creating and packaging the product happens within our organisation. With full control on the supply chain, we are able to pass on the price benefits to customers.