Established in 2013, Plum is a direct-to-consumer vegan beauty brand from India that offers skin care, hair care, body care, and make-up products.
The company expanded into the offline space in 2017 and today is available through over 10,000 third-party retailers.
In October, the company announced that it was unveiling its first standalone store in Mumbai as part of its plans to further strengthen its position as an omnichannel business.
As part of its strategy, Plum is planning to open more than 50 brick-and-mortar stores across India by 2023.
Speaking to CosmeticsDesign-Asia, founder and CEO Shankar Prasad said expanding its offline business would allow the company to reach more consumers in India.
“The logic is simple – between 80% to 90% of the market is still in the offline space. While we are strong online, that just means we are at the maximum covering 20% of the market.”
“While the online medium offers excellent options at many of these touchpoints, it’s not always complete. Keeping these parameters in mind, we wanted to provide our customers an opportunity that serves as an all-in-one experience across all these touchpoints.”
Additionally, while the Indian retail market was affected greatly by COVID-19, it has since bounced back.
“To be honest, I was pleasantly surprised. I thought demand would shift permanently offline – and in some cases, in urban pockets and in certain categories, it has. But I think the sheer depth of the retail market still exists. I think it would be very difficult for everything to move online,” said Prasad.
With this new area of growth for the firm, Prasad is optimistic that the company will see tremendous growth within the next 12 months.
“I'll be surprised if we don't double or more than double our reach in the next eight to nine months. There's activity on all fronts and 2022 promises to be a very, very busy year for us.”
A fine balance
Prasad admitted that the company was still exploring and experimenting in regards to its approach to its retail stores.
“There’s a lot of learning to do. We’ve just opened our first store in Mumbai, and I can tell you our second store will look different from the first. And I’m sure number five and six will look different too.”
However, the overarching goal is to create an experiential space that straddles online and offline to provide a seamless brand experience between them for the Plum customer.
“One thing good about the online experience is that you can get reviews. One thing we are looking at is to have reviews in an offline setting maybe through a QR code you can scan. Overall, what we want to do is bring the best of online and offline together,” said Prasad.
Back in 2019, CosmeticsDesign-Asia reported that Plum was pushing a recycling scheme that allowed customers to send back empty jars and bottles.
Despite having a free pick-up service, less than 10% of customers are actively participating in this recycling programme.
With the opening of its own stores, Prasad is hopeful that more of its customers will start to pick up the recycling habit.
However, he noted that this would present another challenge for the company to be “present everywhere” to make it convenient for consumers to recycle their empties.