‘Strong roots’: India-based Herb Island looking offline to quintuple business in three years

By Amanda Lim

- Last updated on GMT

Herb Island sees potential to grow its business five-fold. ©Herbisland
Herb Island sees potential to grow its business five-fold. ©Herbisland

Related tags India Natural beauty market Business

Indian natural beauty brand Herb Island sees potential to grow its business five-fold by concentrating efforts in the nation’s offline cosmetics space.

While the company is based in India today, it was first founded in Australia. When the founders had to move back to India, they decided to continue the business as it saw opportunities for a brand with Australian roots in the market.

According to co-founder Karishma Kansagra, the company still imports most of its ingredients such as tea tree oil, macadamia oil, neem extracts and certain butters from Australia.

“We first planned to produce in Australia but since we moved back, it made more sense to operate from here. However, the heart of the brand still lies in Australia​,” said Kansagra.

She believes Australian products resonate with Indian consumers because they both share similarities culturally.

“Australia is a beautiful and exotic country with great botanical ingredients. India has very strong roots in naturals through Ayurveda. We are trying to combine these two together to make products that are not only natural but also effective.”

According to Kansagra, the brand has been “well-accepted” ​by consumers in India, where the bulk of its customers come from. Its secondary market is Australia but it has also seen interest from North America, Middle East and Africa regions.

“Our success is definitely attributed to our product strategy. A good marketing strategy can drive your first sale, but a good product strategy will drive your second sale from the same customer.  This has gained us a very loyal customer base with a good repeat purchase ratio.”

Since launching in 2017, Kansagra claimed that the company managed to triple its business and aims to quintuple sales in the next three years.

To achieve this, the company has a two-prong strategy to accelerate its growth in its biggest markets, India and Australia.

“We want to become more available offline in India while expanding online in Australia in 2020. We are already in talks with retailers in India like Nykaa and Health & Glow. In Australia we are in talks with online e-commerce platforms,”​ said Kansagra.

Focusing on India first

The company sees its offline expansion in India as a crucial part of its strategy.

While e-commerce is picking up speed in India, local consumers prefer to shop for their beauty products in brick-and-mortar settings, said Kansagra. She estimated that only 5% of Indian beauty consumers shop online

“Brand experience is still important to Indian consumers. They want to feel the texture of a product and smell the fragrance. Experiencing our products first-hand gives consumers more confidence in buying our products,” ​she elaborated.

The firm plans to target the tier-two cities where it sees more potential compared to tier-one cities.

“Consumers in these cities are spending more and they are actually spending more compared to consumers in the metros,”​ said Kansagra.

Aside from making the brand more accessible to Indian consumers, the company is also in the midst of developing 15 products that resonate with the modern Indian beauty consumers.

“Indian consumers have changed. In the past, the biggest concern was skin whitening and they aspired to be fair. They have now reached an acceptance of themselves and realised that healthy skin is beautiful skin. Because of this, they are becoming more specific in their skin concerns. For example, they are looking for products that target pores or hyperpigmentation,” ​Kansagra explained.

As such, the brand will be releasing “total skin care solutions” ​that target more specific concerns that go beyond more general products that target skin types.

“We have identified the top five concerns of Indian consumers and we are developing product ranges for those concerns. This included cleansers, masks and high-performance serums. We strive to produce high-efficacy products while remaining natural."

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