Making a beeline for beauty retail


April 7, 2023

How Tira plans to break the stranglehold of Nykaa, Sephora and others

Akanksha Nagar, Christina Moniz; Financial Express

April 7, 2023

Reliance Retail’s (RR) launch of an omnichannel beauty and personal care (BPC) retail platform Tira this week brought the fight in the $27-billion market right to the doorstep of entrenched brands such as Nykaa, Sephora, Shoppers Stop, Tata Cliq, Myntra et al. Along with the app and website, the Isha Ambani-led company unveiled a 4,300 sq ft flagship store at Jio World Drive at BKC, Mumbai, and is working to set up stores in at least 100 locations across the country over the next few months.

RR already sells BPC products via its large network of department store chains and on its JioMart platform and last year, acquired a controlling stake in makeup and personal care brand Insight Cosmetics. RR was also in talks with Arvind Fashions to acquire Sephora, but media reports suggest the deal was called off earlier this year.

Clearly, RR has been working hard to capture the lion’s share of the fast-growing market.

According to Statista, revenue in the market will amount to $27.23 bn in 2023 and is expected to grow annually by 3.38% (CAGR 2023-27). Calling it a bottomless market, Samit Sinha, managing partner, Alchemist Brand Consulting, says, “There is definitely a huge untapped opportunity for beauty. Though we have seen a fair bit of growth in India over the past few years, we have barely scratched the surface. Its consumers are no longer just women, but also men. Additionally, differences between young female consumers in small cities and those in metro markets are reducing.”

Taking on competition

No doubt Tira has a lot going for it.

Reliance Retail Ventures Ltd, through its subsidiaries and affiliates, operates an omnichannel network of 17,225 stores and digital commerce platforms across categories including grocery, consumer electronics, fashion and lifestyle, etc.

Sinha points out that RR has a huge advantage in terms of its distribution reach and suggests it look at tapping the huge, pent-up demand in the smaller markets more than the metros, as consumers in these markets today have similar aspirations as metro consumers.

When it comes to categories like colour cosmetics or fragrances, consumers still will opt for offline retail than online, especially in smaller cities since they have limited retail outlets for product trials. That is what Reliance should be focussing on – creating a large offline footprint for its brand and if there is any company that can meet that need, it is the large corporates like Reliance, he adds.

Distribution apart, RR also needs to have a very clear positioning for the brand, notes Devangshu Dutta, chief executive, Third Eyesight. “Differentiation is the key and for that, it has to be clear about what segment of the market it is targeting and its offering. RR formats and the online presence provides a certain possible viable size of distribution, but beyond that, it has to create its own distinctive position in the market.”

Of course, competition hasn’t been sitting tight. Online market leader Nykaa, for instance, has 141 stores and plans to add another 50 in 2023; Tata Group too has announced the launch of over 20 beauty tech stores in the country.

While it has opened multiple outlets, experts say, Nykaa is still primarily an online brand. And this marketing is getting increasingly cluttered.

The online BPC market is roughly around Rs 10,000 crore in India (which is $1.2 billion) and could double in the next 3-4 years, points out Karan Taurani, senior VP, Elara Capital. That means the category could grow to reach $2.5 billion in 3 to 4 years with a CAGR of 25%.

Also, the BPC market requires a differentiated approach compared to other categories, with a lot of influencer-led campaigns and other marketing efforts to build consumer recall. “Other companies have struggled to acquire the kind of success and growth that Nykaa has seen,” he says.

That said, we have all seen how Reliance’s Ajio has given Myntra a run for its money in the fashion category with heavy discounting; so it is quite possible RR will play spoilsport in the online BPC marketplace and give Nykaa tough competition in the medium to long-term.

Tira is leaving no stone unturned. Its online platform has shoppable videos, blogs, tutorials, trend-setting tips, personal recommendations, and a virtual try-on feature, while its brick-and-mortar store offers beauty tech tools such as virtual try-on, skin analyser, fragrance finder and gifting stations to personalise purchases, along with trained beauty advisors.

Even as Tira is looking to differentiate itself via technology or by offering personalised services, Nisha Sampath, managing partner, Bright Angles Consulting, believes the only way Tira can truly stand out will be through the experience it offers. The proof will lie in how seamlessly it guides the customer through the purchase experience, she sums up.

(Published in Financial Express)