More than lip service: ‘Ignored’ India lip care market ripe for innovative new products – CEO

By Nurul Ain Razali

- Last updated on GMT

Pilgrim innovates lip balm flavours, like introducing peppermint ones, to the Indian market. [Pilgrim]
Pilgrim innovates lip balm flavours, like introducing peppermint ones, to the Indian market. [Pilgrim]

Related tags India squalane Pilgrim lip care

The Indian lip care market is ripe for innovation, with a brand CEO saying that it has largely been overlooked compared with the saturated lip colour, face and hair care sectors.

Based on this observation, co-founder and CEO of D2C vegan brand Pilgrim, Anurag Kedia, launched a squalane lip care range as part of the firm’s ‘Secrets of Seville’ Spain-inspired range in March 2022.

The range has contributed 10% to the firm’s total revenue, with major demand coming from Maharashtra and Delhi, said Kedia.

Supporting the lip care launch was a marketing campaign with premium frozen yoghurt brand MyFroyoLand. Under the campaign, the firms introduced flavours represented in both brands – blueberry, peppermint and bubble gum – across India.

“The lip (care), as a category, has been completely ignored in innovation. We have seen so much innovation happening globally and in India for face and hair. But lip has not been given the attention it deserves. India has not seen much beyond lip balms. There’s also not much excitement in terms of flavours and actives used.

“This is why we now offer a complete range of lip products. We want consumers to start adopting a regime or a ritual for lip care. I think that’s the opportunity available today. The demand is there, but the reason people have not done it… They’ll have to answer.

“But Pilgrim is happy to produce this lip care range. We want to bring exotic flavours and support them with bioactives, so it’s not merely flavours and the sensory experience. It has to be fun but efficient,” ​said Kedia.

Founded in 2019, Pilgrim is a D2C beauty brand that claims to be vegan, cruelty-free and PETA-certified. It has more than 70 SKUs, spanning face, hair care and body care, and is US FDA-approved. Consumers can access native beauty traditions derived from three cultures –Korea, Spain and France.

Leading lip care

The new Pilgrim squalane lip range retails from 225 to 350 rupees (US$3 to US$4.40) and consists of three SKUs: the roll-on serum, balm and scrub. The firm will add a lactic acid-based peel and sleep mask later this year. For marketing purposes, the range targets users aged 20 to 35, but anyone of any skin maturity could use the products.

Conventional squalene to produce squalane is problematic as it is usually derived from shark liver and normal lip care ranges utilise beeswax. As a vegan brand, the firm took around nine months to stabilise the final range and conduct flavour testing. The team sourced the squalene from Spanish olives grown in Seville and utilised plant wax.

In addition, it uses an oil-based ingredient named ‘PLUMP Oléoactif’, which could potentially show plumping results after 20 days due to its hydrating factor. Other ingredients in the lip care range include pomegranate flower, almond oil, jojoba oil, cocoa butter and shea butter. Overall, the brand hopes to sell up to 30,000 units under the squalane range and add more flavours over time.

“We observed that consumers like to bring lip balms wherever they go all year round, especially in hot and humid India. Despite the humidity, lips can lose moisture. It is exacerbated by winter coming in some parts of the country. What differentiates our lip care is the formulation of actives and oils, creating a double-function protective and nourishing barrier,” ​said Kedia, as Pilgrim prepares for the upcoming winter season from October to February.

Pilgrim also plans to export to the Middle East and the US by Q3 2023 after reported on its gold range​ and triggered demand. It is also planning to launch a hair care range inspired by a new country in October 2022.

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