Post Covid Trends As I See it – Asha Hariharan

Asha Hariharan is unarguably one of the strongest advocates of the Indian cosmetic industry. A passionate educationist and practitioner of the craft, she articulates her views in various forums with firmness and clarity.

The beauty industry has been a resilient one in the past, but how will it fare this time, given the scale and uncertainty of the pandemic, remains to be seen.

Salons and Stores have shut their doors. A lot of manufactures have shifted their activity to making sanitizers and sanitization products

The products & beauty business provides so many jobs and now the livelihoods of millions are at stake. The glaring choice faced by any government presently is whether to save lives or livelihood. There is no choosing – it must be done simultaneously. This is where manufacturers will play a pivotal role

The crisis has created shifts in opportunities for manufacturers and I would like to address these today. If we move in quickly to adapt, we can start our crawl back to normalcy at a faster rate. The industry has no choice and everyone in the chain will have to adapt and innovate ways of manufacturing, delivering and strategizing.

The beauty sector has been a vibrant one and has been catering to all sorts of consumer needs. Customer expectations have been managed by large conglomerates and small retailers alike, thus having created loyalty. A beauty product meets many demands at the client level – from grooming, pampering, health of skin & hair. It also caters to the mental health of a customer where following a regime, salon visit or using a product gives a customer the confidence of being alive, valid and healthy. It ups the self- assurance quotient.

Regardless of crises, the cosmetic industry has survived wars, illnesses & economic downturns. The need to adapt from the industry and manufactures perspective arises from the fact that each crisis changes the habits and customers approach to self-care, depending on the mood of the situation and which direction the disaster blows in.

In most cases history has shown us that while sales and services do slump, the now tired and mentally demoralized customer actually goes back to buying personal care products as an escape or reward even if they are low on cash. Perhaps the recession created by the COVID 19 pandemic will be far more serious than any the world has seen in decades.

The beauty industry is driven by consumers need to keep youthful and thus once again prove its resilience. Although I see a slump in the Colour Cosmetic category, I do however see a vertical scaling in the Skin section. Despite face mask protection, I predict steady sales in lipstick and perhaps even a surge in the lip care segment. I also see a considerable increase in D-I-Y Skin Care products and treatments, like face masks, exfoliating rituals, moisturizers and an exceptional escalation in lip & eye treatments like sugar scrubs, balms, masks, soothing eye gels and massage products for the eyes due to the rise of stay home professionals and the after effects of working/studying using online/digital media. Colour cosmetic for the eye may not see a hike but will steady soon due to the safety mask still leaving the eye in open view. I see a rise in kaajal and eyebrow products.

The repercussions of the pandemic will see businesses shut shop temporarily or even permanently. While this is a disadvantage for luxury counters, large retail outlets and mega companies, it will give rise to small businesses, mushrooming in the gaping holes created by the collateral damage to large companies. Small is going to be beautiful. Essential stores and medical shops will see greater sales in care products and they will be allowed to stay open for longer periods of time. The scare of social distancing will see a decline in sales in malls, and as people cut down on the out of the house time, socially or professionally, online buying will be the easiest, safest and quickest way to shop products. Records have shown that even hardcore online buyers who want to save time and energy buying online, still make the exception to enjoy the physical act of roaming stores & browsing when buying beauty products. However they will have resort to online buying for this too due to the situation at hand.

Product companies might want to consider, more so now, a greater online presence.

In the present scenario I would suggest retailers & manufactures to go local instead of global. It’s focused, its home ground, easier to talk the language of your people, easier on the distribution and smaller companies can communicate to its audiences, since innovation and communication come cheaper to smaller companies

It can create local heroes by collaborating with local influencers. So conversation with you consumer is key to create trust. A point that is nearly missed out by giant companies

It’s time for manufacturer and retailers alike to regroup retarget and re-strategize. Collaborating will be key to support all business owners from raw ingredient suppliers, contract manufacturing & supply chain. This will help contain unnecessary costs and help support business revival

Author :  Asha Hariharan

With over 30 years of experience, Asha Hariharan is an award-winning makeup artist ,much sought after Hair expert and the co-founder of the international ‘Beyond the Fringe ‘ salon franchise, Asha Hariharan Academy (AHA) for hairdressing and the MakeupRoom. She is also a go-to professional, for brands when want their formulations tested and tweaked to perfection.A color enthusiast , Asha has lent her expertise to the biggest beauty brands including L’OREAL professional , GCPL , Marico , Wella and J&J.