‘Ahead of the curve’: Colorbar targets international ambitions on the back of clean beauty trend

By Amanda Lim

- Last updated on GMT

Colorbar is pushing the development of clean beauty products. ©Colorbar
Colorbar is pushing the development of clean beauty products. ©Colorbar

Related tags clean beauty Skin care Colour cosmetics India trends

Indian beauty brand Colorbar is pushing the development of clean beauty products as it strives to become one of the top three beauty firms in the world.

Colorbar was founded by managing director Samir Modi in 2003 and is currently the third-largest cosmetics company in India.

The company started out as a colour cosmetics brand but has since expanded into the skin care category to fill a need in the market for ‘problem-solving’ skin care products that target issues such as pollution and blue light.

According to the firm, the skin care line fulfils the company’s ‘clean beauty promise’, which ensures that all products are 100% cruelty-free, dermatologically and ophthalmologically tested.

Additionally, they also meet the stringent quality standards of the US, Japan, and European Union (EU) regulations and are made in accordance with good manufacturing practices (GMP).

Since its launch two years ago, Colorbar’s skin care portfolio accounted for 10% of its overall sales.

Modi told CosmeticsDesign-Asia​ that the company would emphasis more on its skin care in the future and he expects skin care to make up 30% of the business in the future.

The company plans to reach this goal by riding on the clean beauty trend, which Modi believes holds a lot of potential in India.

“In India, the awareness of clean beauty has not picked up yet. You can say we are ahead of the curve from a consumer point of view. But I believe in clean beauty and that more and more consumers are becoming conscious of what they put on their faces,”​ said Modi.

Modi revealed that the company does not plan to stop at skin care but is working to extend its clean philosophy to all its colour cosmetics products as well.

“We have just started to get into clean make-up. Now for all our new formulations, we are looking to go clean​,” he said.

International ambitions

Modi added that going clean would help the company in its ambitions to expand internationally.

“In India, it will take a longer time for clean beauty to arrive, but as we go international ourselves, I think having clean beauty products will help us.”

Aside from India, where it operates 104 standalone stores and 1178 shop-in-shops, Colorbar is available in Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Istanbul, Malaysia, UK and US via e-commerce.

“India is one of the lowest make-up using market, so there is a tremendous amount of growth that is possible in India. But we also have global aspirations. For that that we have to get into the like of multi-brand retailers,”​ said Modi.

He added that the company planned to target markets in Asia Pacific and Europe.

“Asia Pacific is a market we are familiar with and there’s a large Indian population outside of India. Europe, on the other hand, is close to us, because we manufacturer our products in Germany, Italy, Switzerland and France.”

Modi said the company was working to realise its international ambitions in the next five years. “My vision is to be one of the top three companies in the world.”

Shore up defences

In addition to its global plans, the company has been actively working to strengthen its business in its home market, which has taken a hit because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis.

Currently, only 40% of Colorbar’s stores are operational and sales of make-up has taken a dive, especially lips which was previously a strong category.

Despite that, Modi remains confident about the company’s performance because of its diversification efforts into skin care. "We got a bit lucky I guess in working on skin care pre-COVID-19."

Additionally, he believes the company is well-placed in the colour cosmetics space to stage a recovery.

“Lips are down 30% but I think it will bounce back because India has always been about kiss-proof, non-transferable formulas. So from that point of view India is already used to those kinds of dry, less creamy formulas,”​ Modi explained.

“Eyes are the trend we see growing. We are working on long-lasting eyeshadows and an eyeshadow sealer. But in any case, our eyeliners and mascaras are waterproof. In fact, our make-up line is predominantly long-lasting and waterproof because of the hot and humid climate in India.”

To reinforce the company’s defences against the pandemic, the firm is also pushing more digital initiatives including augmented reality (AR) try-on software which it is developing with another company.

“In the next two years I think online should make up 25% of the business, but it should go up to 40% post-COVID,”​ said Modi.

However, the company does not intend to focus primarily on its online business.

“Online has become a necessity but I think retail will always remain important,”​ said Modi.

As such, the company has been bringing in exciting new concepts into the stores, such as customisable lipstick and nail polish services.

Modi highlighted that personalisation trend would continue to gain traction in the market as consumers now want to dictate their own choices.

“The idea is that you can come to our store eventually and customise everything, from foundation to lipstick to skin care.”

With all these projects, Modi hopes the business will be able to withstand the COVID-19 pandemic. “I hope so, I got my fingers crossed.”

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