Colour back in play: HUL reports make-up performance almost back up to pre-pandemic levels

By Amanda Lim

- Last updated on GMT

HUL is seeing the colour cosmetics category steadily recovering to 2019 pre-pandemic levels. {[HUL / Lakmé]
HUL is seeing the colour cosmetics category steadily recovering to 2019 pre-pandemic levels. {[HUL / Lakmé]

Related tags India Hindustan unilever Cosmetics make-up Colour cosmetics

Indian consumer goods giant Hindustan Unilever (HUL) is seeing the colour cosmetics category steadily recovering to 2019 pre-pandemic levels as India loosens COVID-19 restrictions.

As expected for discretionary categories, cosmetic sales took a “beating” ​during the pandemic as a result of COVID-19 disruptions, said Ritesh Tiwari, CFO and executive director, finance and IT.

However, Tiwari said that the company was “almost back”​ to the pre-pandemic levels of 2019 for a majority of discretionary categories, including cosmetics.

“On colour cosmetics, in particular, we are just about at 2019 levels. So, business has recovered with mobility coming back. And we do expect that with some stellar work which government has done on vaccination, we should be able to see more amount of mobility improving that should further go well for colour cosmetics business,” ​he said during the firm’s September quarter 2021 earnings conference.

One of the company’s most important drivers in the colour cosmetics category was its flagship brand, Lakmé.

In light of the upcoming festive season, Lakmé has introduced a limited-edition range of lip colours and also launched Lumi Cream, a light moisturiser with a hint of highlight to give the skin a “3D glow”.

In addition to launching new products and enhancing its product offerings, the company has also reinforced its digital presence through social media and its own direct-to-consumer e-commerce platform.

“We are also very pleased with the expanding digital presence of the Lakmé brand. Not only is Lakmé India's most followed beauty brand on Instagram, we have monthly two million visitors on our D2C website, and 30% of Lakmé sales happen through digital channels,”​ said Tiwari.

According to the company, Lakmé has the highest number of followers on Instagram among all India’s beauty brands.

He added that the company will not just focus on Lakmé’s online presence, but continue building its offline presence too, especially since footfall is improving as pandemic concerns wane.

“We are very clear, wherever consumers find safer and convenient to go to shop, we will be there, be it the beauty counters in a mall when things are opening up and life's looking healthier and more comfortable for people to visit or, for that matter, on an online experience of shopping our portfolio and then getting benefit from the range that we offer. So, we will have our play across modern trade, general trade and online as required to drive sales of the business.”

Sanjiv Mehta, chairman and managing director, added that while the newly ingrained e-commerce habits will persist, it will not diminish the role of brick-and-mortar in India.

“COVID-19 has, of course, given a big lift to e-commerce, and we believe these habits will continue to stick with consumers as they get used to the convenience and assortment available online. Modern trade stores, which were impacted due to the closure of malls, have come back strongly in the quarter as the country opened. And rightly so, as in a country, shopping is considered an outing and an experience.”

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