India's SUGAR Cosmetics seeks to hit the sweet spot with aggressive offline expansion

By Amanda Lim

- Last updated on GMT

Indian online beauty brand SUGAR Cosmetics is rapidly expanding offline to strengthen its presence. ©Sugar Cosmetics
Indian online beauty brand SUGAR Cosmetics is rapidly expanding offline to strengthen its presence. ©Sugar Cosmetics
Indian beauty brand SUGAR Cosmetics is rapidly expanding offline to strengthen its presence in the market, as well as enhance customer experience.

“These stay the prime reasons to venture and expand into offline presence,”​ said CEO Vineeta Singh.

SUGAR started online and now has over 400 retail touchpoints across India.

It is available via general trade stores, self-operated kiosks as well as retail chains such as Health & Glow and Project Eve.

Earlier this year, the brand ramped up its offline expansion by launching its own brick-and-mortar stores in Kolkata and Bengaluru.

Singh added that brick-and-mortar stores allow the brand to reach more demographics.

“Even though millennials prefer to purchase products online… we still see a large chunk of people who like to try and test products which is a limitation when it comes to online shopping. For example, it is extremely tricky to select a foundation [online]. In this instance, the physical stores come into play.”

Singh stressed that this was only the beginning for SUGAR and she plans to continue to strengthening its physical presence to build a ‘strong retail hold’ in the Indian market.

 “We are on track to building a strong retail footprint and expanding our geographical distribution to bring our much-loved ranges to the doorstep of all our fans.”

CEO confident of brand potential

The rapid expansion comes after SUGAR received $10m worth of funding from venture capital firm

Previously, 70% of the business came from its online channel and the main aim of the investment was to build its presence.

However, Singh said the other goal was to expand its product range, which currently contains over 250 SKUs.

“We have a line-up of some really exciting products that are underway which include multiple lines of foundations, lip liners, a shade extension to the loved Arch Arrival Brow Definer just to name a few.”

Singh is extremely confident on SUGAR’s growth potential, highlighting that the brand grew by five times in the last year alone.

“SUGAR Cosmetics was launched with the main aim to provide bold and non-conformist beauty essentials to every Indian woman. In recent times, there aren’t many brands that are focusing on keeping up with in-trend makeup products that are suited for the millennial who is spoilt for choice.”

She also attributed her belief to the booming Indian personal care market.

“We’re fortunate to get an opportunity to serve one of the fastest-growing colour cosmetics markets in the world and we should expect double-digit growth over the next six to seven years.”

Colour driving personal care

According to Singh, the personal care market in India is being driven by the use of colour cosmetics across social media platforms that are influencing millennial beauty consumers.

She believes the lip category will continue to dominate the colour cosmetics space as beauty consumers are ‘warming up’ to using multiple lip shades.

Additionally, consumers are demanding more inclusivity from brands.

“We are seeing more brands launch wider shade ranges that actually cater [Indians]. One of our hottest selling products is our Ace Of Face Foundation Stick. We have actually launched 22 shades – which is a testimony to how inclusive SUGAR is and believe the entire industry should be.”

Finding manpower to support this growth was also an important task, added Singh.

“Increasing our overall team strength to support the fast-paced growth has also been a prime focus area - in the past one year alone the brand generated over 600 jobs in the industry and there are still many vacancies to be filled.”

However, Singh admitted that the brand faced intense competition in the market.

“At this point, there is increasing competition in the makeup industry, not just by Indian brands but also various international brands that are now easily available in the country.

“It’s important to create diversity through innovation and unique products that will be able to edge out from the pool of products that are launching almost every day. Cracking this is the key to future success.”


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