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Q] Cosmoprof made its entry in India for the first time this year. What does that mean for the professional beauty industry in the country?
It is great to see that Cosmoprof has chosen India and Mumbai to be its fourth destination in the world because that indicates the importance of India as a market- with over a billion young consumers. Our beauty market is poised for healthy growth driven by – greater exposure, more women in the workforce, more social occasions and a higher disposable income. Apart from being an important market, Cosmoprof has recognized India’s potential as a source of beauty concepts and manufacturing, delivering products and services across the globe.

Q] What would you say is the value of the professional beauty industry in India currently?
If you were to look at it in consumer revenue terms, that value could be anywhere plus or minus 10% of Rs 40,000 crore. I refer to the professional beauty industry that includes salons, spas and clinics catering to hair, skin, makeup, hands and feet. The industry growth will be somewhere between 12% and 15% - sustained over the next ten years.

Q] The Lakme Salon brand doesn’t really invest much on advertising, unlike the retail brand.
Our biggest investment, as a professional beauty brand, is in elevating the consumer experience in the salons. That comes from the look and feel of the salon and most importantly the way you educate and train your staff. Our proposition “ Runway Excellence Everyday” is brought to life by the quality of expertise, our Runway Secrets portfolio, the backstage look of Lakme Salons, our Runway Rewards member club and our clutter breaking campaigns. So, a significant portion of our investment in brand building is actually in these areas. Having said that, there is a significant investment that we also make in brand building and communication.

Q] Lakme Fashion Week is a property that has been in existence for 20 years. How has it worked to drive greater brand recall for the salon brand?
Lakme Salon as a brand has always stood for trends and innovations. For all of these, the inspiration comes from our work with designers and the work we do backstage. We launch trends in hair, skin and makeup in our show stopping collections at Lakme Fashion Week, in collaboration with leading designers like Neeeta Lulla, Payal Singhal, Amit Agrawal, Nikhil Thampi, Gauri & Nainika, Nachiket Barve amongst others. Our expertise, the experiences we offer consumers, the look and feel of our salons – all of these are derived from the Lakme Fashion Week. Our top customers are even offered the chance to attend the shows. The backstage of Lakme Fashion Week is at the heart of the Lakme Salon.

Q] The brand already has a strong nationwide presence. Are you looking at scaling up further?
We are expanding at the rate of two salons a week. Today, we are in about 430 locations across 152 towns.

Q] Competing salon chains like Enrich also offer home services for consumers. Is Lakme also looking at introducing something similar?
Every beauty salon addresses three big need states – the need for basic hygiene, for transformation and for rejuvenation. Home services typically address the needs for hygiene and rejuvenation. At Lakme, our endeavour is to deliver to all three need states within a salon and make it convenient for consumers to access our salons. We have experimented with services on demand, and it’s an interesting space to watch. We’re not sure yet if we want to enter the home service space in a big way.

Q] Is male grooming an important focus area for the brand? How much of your consumer base is male?
Considering Lakme has largely been perceived as a women-only brand for a long time, we don’t see too many men walk into our salons. That said, male grooming is more than just a trend and it is definitely here to stay. Close to one fourth of our salons are in fact unisex.

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