Despite the situation with the COVID-19 pandemic, the brand enjoyed a healthy year, according to Rohit Bhasin, global VP, Unilever POND’S.
“Last year was good for POND’S. The business was tough because we had a lot of lockdowns across our markets. The overall beauty market shrank by double-digits, but we made sure we gained share comparatively even in a declining market,” said Bhasin.
Like most brands, POND’S saw that consumer spend shifted to e-commerce in the past year.
“The pandemic accelerated the shift from offline to online. Something that started as an experiment has largely become a necessity. People now enjoy shopping online as its more convenient. We believe online is here to stay.”
Speaking to CosmeticsDesign-Asia at the inaugural Shopee Brands Summit, Bhasin said the company intends to focus on its online business moving forward.
“E-commerce as a segment is something that we’ve seen exploding. Our biggest goal is to make sure we double the share of e-commerce towards our contributing business in the next 5 years.”
Last December, POND’s launched Skin Advisor Live (SAL), an artificial intelligence-powered chatbot that recommends consumers products, exclusively with SEA e-commerce platform Shopee.
SAL has been launched in Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam and will soon roll out across the entire SEA region.
“We’ve seen very high levels of engagement with consumers. When a consumer goes through the SAL experience, it leads to higher purchase intent,” said Bhasin.
He continued: “More importantly what you're doing is to help her solve an issue that she has, what her skin care problems are and what are the best solutions in terms of products and regimes. That information is something that is valuable to her. That leads to engagement with the brand, better loyalty with the brand, as well as higher purchase for the brand.”
According to Shopee, the feature has generated more than 15 times higher purchase intent and consumers were observed to spend up to three times more time on the site.
“It verified our hypothesis that women would love some help in terms of skin care recommendation. We're seeing good traction, good engagement and higher purchasing levels. The question for us is how we can scale it up even further,” said Bhasin.
According to Bhasin, the SEA market is the brand’s second-biggest market. “SEA is our second biggest cluster and a very important cluster for us. We have targeted plans to grow much faster and gain share in the region.”
However, the company believes there is still a lot of room for POND’s to grow in the region.
“We have a market leadership position in most of these markets. There's a huge runway for growth as women are looking for beauty solutions at different price points, different benefits and different age groups,” said Bhasin.
He added that Indonesia is the brand’s biggest market, but the rest of the SEA countries hold similar potential for the brand. “Category penetration is not high in all these markets, therefore, there's huge room for growth.”
Among the categories, anti-ageing products have more potential in the SEA region, said Bhasin.
“Anti-ageing is a smaller segment today because the awareness and understanding that the skin needs a specific ageing solution is low amongst consumers. In Indonesia for instance, brightening is close to 80% of the market so anti-ageing products have higher growth potential. As people get more knowledge and we educate them, then possibly anti-ageing as a segment has got a bigger runway.”