The beauty industry dynamics in India have witnessed a complete overhaul in the recent years. As the societal pressure of looking more youthful, vibrant and radiant increases, it has become a norm for Indian women to even opt for beauty services that were only synonymous with the truly well-heeled till just a decade ago.
Besides the mushrooming of spas and salons, the growing popularity of cosmetic surgery clinics and a rise in at home beauty services is a testimony to the fact that ‘looking good’ is a necessity today. As Dr. Mohan Thomas, Senior Cosmetic Surgeon, Cosmetic Surgery Institute, rightly puts it, “There is a paradigm shift in the mindset of women in general, working or otherwise. The stereotypical profile of a patient seeking cosmetic procedures was somebody from the media, socialites, celebrities, etc. With most families being double income, women today, have the financial independence as well as husbands or partners that stand by them for support.” He further says that today, these services are sought after by women from all walks of life in the age group of 18-75 years.
Dr. Apratim Goel, Dermatologist and Laser Surgeon, Cutis Skin Studio, highlighted that 2014 was a milestone year, as 16 million people underwent aesthetic procedures, either surgical or minimally invasive (as per the American Society of Plastic Surgeons Report). What was more interesting was that these people didn’t belong to a particular age or gender group; rather people from all ages, locations, genders and economic strata were surprisingly a part of this trend. Some of them stated to have even postponed important life events like buying a house or going for a vacation to undergo an aesthetic procedure.
Dr. Goel adds, “There is a constant societal pressure to look more youthful, vibrant and radiant. A huge section of women have emerged with dedicated inclination towards cosmetic treatments in order to improve their career prospects and job competitiveness. A pretty face and attractive body signifies confidence and robust personality traits which definitely give an edge at work and the women are not scared to use it to their advantage. However, among this specific section of working women, non-surgical and minimally invasive treatments work better as they usually have less downtime, low risk and subtle outcomes. Botulinum toxin (botox) injection, dermal filler treatment, chemical peels, laser skin tightening, fat freezing (Cooltech) technologies are opted for at a regular basis.”
Talking about the hair care industry in India, Revlon has an interesting perspective to share. According to the brand, emergence of “natural” chemical free products, are few variants that are fuelling the Indian hair care market. The `2,500 crores hair colour industry in India, has evolved a lot over the years. Back in the days, it was cumbersome to colour hair, with lack of knowledge, tools and post colour care. Also, black was the only shade available. Today, one can choose between brown, dark brown, burgundy and black, giving one a wider range to select from. The consumers are less experimental with styles and products when it comes to hair. Fortunately, this trend is now changing and will add to the ever growing hair market.
Moving over to beauty services, salons today offer a well defined and articulated menu. From different facials to manicures and pedicures, each of them are thoughtfully designed to pamper women. It is more like giving them their ‘me time’ and make them feel special. For example, salons like Enrich have massage chairs for women to sit during their hair wash and the beauty technician is instructed to offer a light back and head massage too while the wash is on. The ‘at home’ beauty service category is getting popular as well with the paucity of time faced by women today. Another very interesting trend being witnessed is that of salons and spas opening up at malls. Apart from salons, there is a lot of stand alone stores for beauty brands from MAC to Lakme to Bodyshop and even international beauty department stores like Sephora.
Vivek Bali, Business Director, Sephora, on being asked about the graph and growth of the make-up industry vis-a-vis Indian market and consumers pointed out that India’s growing economy presents an attractive opportunity for the beauty business. A steady GDP growth, growing middle class, increasing consumer spend and a young population are great for the beauty market. Adding to this, he shares, “More women in the workforce, with personal money to spend, with more options to buy and the desire to look glamourous is leading to increased usage of make-up and skincare products. Brands are investing in educating customers in the usage of make-up and helping consumers to transition. With the overall beauty business growing at 18 percent, with make-up growing at 27 percent and fragrances growing at 29 percent, these are two sunrise categories.”
He further states that the Gen-Next consumer (those born towards the end of the 1980s) are in their prime consumption years today. These are the spenders who are indulging in beauty category.
Teenagers have also started using beauty products early which is a great sign for many years of good consumption in the beauty industry. Gunjan Gaur, Executive Director, Alps Beauty Group, shares, “Undoubtedly, women are active in visiting to salon and spas. They visit more than twice a month. As far as I feel, more than a necessity, it is today’s desire. The most interesting reason which actually brings them into salon and spas is to reinvent oneself. Every woman likes to look different and that’s why they keep on doing experiments with their looks as a matter of regularity. This is what motivates women to visit and go on rounds for taking salon appointment. They want to see the transformation which happens after visiting salon and spas.” She makes an interesting observation that there are times when women visit salon and spas, out of sheer boredom and for regular upkeep on their looks.
Women’s financial independence & desire to look good is leading to increased usage of make-up and skincare products. With the overall beauty business growing at 18 percent, make-up growing at 27 percent and fragrances growing at 29 percent, these are two Sunrise Categories.
“The emergence of television and media and their portrayal of the ideal women has had a marked effect on the average person’s psyche. A man wants his lady to look a certain way and the lady deems it essential to fit in this picture to have an appeal. Evident by the growing number of salons and cosmetic clinics and also the home service delivery portals, women are not shying away from getting manicures, pedicures, haircuts, massages, waxings, etc., on regular basis. However, there is a paradigm shift in women demanding more permanent solutions like laser hair removal,” Dr. Goel concludes.
THE MOST PREFERRED SERVICES BASED ON AGE GROUP ACCORDING TO DR. DR. MOHAN THOMAS, SENIOR COSMETIC SURGEON, COSMETIC SURGERY INSTITUTE
AGE GROUP:16-18 YEARS
Generally, they are seniors in high school or getting ready for college. Self-esteem, self- consciousness and feminity comes into play. In this age group, these young ladies want to launch themselves in a signature fashion. Generally most girls in this age group have some form of acne outbreak which needs to be addressed. The other concern is the need for waxing, shaving of body hair which is replaced today very effectively and painlessly by laser hair reduction. The surgeries commonly sought after by this group are usually rhinoplasty or breast augmentation or reduction.
AGE GROUP:19-30 YEARS
Women in this age group come into their own and are very sure about what they need to do for personal growth, marital alliance, climbing the corporate ladder or simply they want to change. This age group commonly goes in for facials, laser hair reduction and laser facials. Indians have a romance with fairness. Glutathione, an anti-oxidant combined with other anti-oxidants can be given in an oral form as well as intravenously bringing about lightening of the skin to a few shades and an obvious glow of the skin. The demand for these services start early and continue into the other age groups as well. From a surgical point of view, rhinoplasty, body contouring and breast augmentation or reduction are in demand.
AGE GROUP:30-45 YEARS
In this age group, there is a generalised awareness of the aging process starting with the skin and associated wrinkles on the face. The married women in this age group are concerned about the changes in their breasts, abdomen and private parts (vaginal delivery causing looseness of the vagina). The non-surgical treatments sought in this age group include facials including anti-aging, chemical peels and possible use of anti-oxidants. The skin tightening measures usually using technology with the gold standard being Ulthera (micro focused ultrasound).
AGE GROUP:45-70+ YEARS
This group may have mothers as well as grandmothers all seeking and aiming for a special look. Mothers who may be future in-laws and the grandmother of the bride and bridegroom want to look their very best for that one big photo opportunity – ‘The Big Fat Indian Wedding’. Loss of weight is sought after by the entire age group and can be managed with responsible calorie restricted diet, exercise, an intragastric balloon (non- surgical, can lose between 15-27 kgs, and the balloon has to be removed after six months) and bariatric surgery for those who are obese or have metabolic syndromes. Non-traditional services that are most sought after include genital rejuvenation to mainly address the deflated look with fat transfer along with stem cells or a labiaplasty or vaginoplasty.