Unlocking potential: Plum eyeing untapped vegan demand in hair, body care, and make-up
Established in 2013, Plum is a direct-to-consumer (DTC) vegan beauty brand that offers skin care, hair care, body care, make-up, and men’s personal care products.
In March, the company raised $35 million in a Series C round led by venture capital firm A91 Partners and also included Unilever Ventures and Faering Capital.
With this fresh capital, Plum would be able to tap into the multiple opportunities in the market, said founder and CEO Shankar Prasad.
“We operate in a market that's full of opportunity. To tap into the opportunity well, we need to have the right kind of capital that allows us to run the kind of experiments,” he told CosmeticsDesign-Asia.
The company currently has an annual revenue run rate of over INR225 (U$29.6m) and hopes to double it in the next 12 months.
Prasad elaborated that the company was aiming to expand its business in hair care, body care and make-up.
“Each of these categories independently has opportunities in the market, so, why should we restrict ourselves. The game here is to grow the pie and I’m agnostic to how the pie ends up being divided.”
Currently, skin care accounts for the lion's share of the business at 60%. Make-up and bath and body care account for roughly 10% and 15% respectively. Lastly, hair care and men’s beauty together account for approximately 15%.
Hair care and make-up are areas of particular interest for the company. According to Prasad, Plum’s existing hair care and make-up products have been well-received by consumers, reaffirming his confidence in the potential growth.
“Hair care has big potential – that’s nothing new of course, hair care is in fact still the largest category in India’s personal care market. Equally exciting for us is the potential of make-up. Given that our core customer base is made up of women, make-up is something that naturally appeals to them.”
Additionally, the bath and body care category is another that has accelerated in the past couple of years as the COVID-19 pandemic fostered an increased awareness of hygiene and self-care among consumers.
Plum’s ambition to grow the aforementioned categories goes hand-in-hand with improving its research and development capabilities.
The company moved into a new R&D centre just recently and is looking to expand its team and develop its capabilities.
“The other thing we are looking at is reducing the gap between what we see in the lab and manufacturing. Sometimes there’s a lot of excitement in the lab which eventually, for reasons such as cost or feasibility, ends up being different from what you’re able to manufacture at scale. The delivery of technology will be important going forward,” said Prasad.
With the new funding, the company also intends to invest in marketing to prepare itself for the incoming of new digital marketing channels and approaches.
“People's behaviours have changed forever in the last couple of years, and they are continuing to evolve. You have new content platforms, new ways of consuming content, and new ways of engaging audiences.
“That needs the right technology, the use of the right data along with technical skill on the front end. Then you need to figure out how you are going to funnel it into your business objectives. That’s going to be the focus.”
Beyond that, Plum is also exploring potential entry into new overseas markets.
The company is widely available in India through its own platform as well as top e-commerce marketplaces like Amazon, Amazon, Flipkart, Nykaa, and Purplle. Furthermore it has over 10,000 offline touchpoints.
Overseas, it is available in markets including Nepal, Bangladesh, the United Arab Emirates, as well as the US.
“We’re already talking to a couple of South East Asian countries, Malaysia and the Philippines. There’s also Mauritius. There’s interest all around but we are being measured because we want to make meaningful entries into these markets,” said Prasad.
“Whether you take a channel view or a geographical view, I think the theme this year for us is going to be about unlocking potential and grow in all these dimensions without having to make it a zero-sum game.”