Nykaa Faces Uphill Beauty Battle: Can It Fight Off Tata CLiQ And Reliance Tira?

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July 25, 2023

Suprita Anupam, Inc42

Jul 25, 2023

Following a stock downgrade, Nykaa might lose some visibility among public market investors at a time when competition in the beauty ecommerce space is intensifying

Nykaa, which has been the most popular beauty marketplace, has had to fight off Reliance Tira, Flipkart-owned Myntra, Tata CLiQ and others but has to invest heavily in omnichannel and private label expansion

As its profitability and traction have declined, Nykaa needs to fix things for the long run without losing too much money as it does not have the capital reserves similar to its rivals

In the first week of July, the Nykaa stock took a significant hit, falling 42% from its 52-week high. Further, the Association of Mutual Funds in India (AMFI) downgraded the stock, dropping it from the top 100 listed companies in the country. As of now, the company is ranked somewhere between 101 and 250 on the market capitalisation threshold.

From a near monopoly in the beauty ecommerce space, Nykaa has lost its top spot. Not to mention, new competition, in the form of D2C brands and behemoths such as Tata and Reliance, has complicated the situation even more.

The downgrade by the AMFI means that Nykaa is no longer an attractive largecap stock in India, and this could have an impact on the company’s visibility in the near future.

So, what exactly triggered this collapse?

It was only in November 2021 that Nykaa’s INR 5,352 Cr IPO saw 82x subscription, the highest among large startup IPOs in India. Having withstood competition from marketplaces such as Amazon India and Walmart-backed Flipkart and Myntra, Nykaa seemingly set a new benchmark for Indian ecommerce startups with its blockbuster IPO.

But the last 20 months have been nothing short of disruptive. Reliance-backed AJIO has grown in stature, and the Indian conglomerate has also launched Tira in the beauty ecommerce space.

Meanwhile, Tata has also bolstered its beauty and personal care product assortment on its platform Tata CLiQ. Furthermore, the Tatas have added 20 beauty tech stores across the country, aligned with its ecommerce operations, while Myntra Beauty has registered 2X-3X growth in recent months and expanded its brand collection. Therefore, Nykaa needs to come up with something exceptional to compete with the aforementioned well-funded BPC contenders.

Adding to the company’s woes was the announcement of the issue of bonus shares in a 5:1 ratio and changes in key management personnel after a successful IPO. This did not go down well with investors. Bonus shares announcement was largely perceived as a way to keep the company’s anchor investors from offloading shares at the end of their IPO lock-in period.

Experts believe that amid declining year-on-year profitability, Nykaa could see a cash crunch as it prepares to combat with deep-pocketed corporations. For now, it will be interesting to see if Nykaa can hold onto its market share?

Nykaa’s Losing Its Footfall To AJIO & Myntra

First, let’s look at the bread-and-butter for ecommerce platforms such as Nykaa — that is visits, page views, engagement and repeat orders.

It must be noted that Nykaa has separate properties for fashion (Nykaafashion.com) and beauty (nykaa.com). If we look at the performance over the last 3-4 months, the fashion vertical has definitely seen some gains, but Nykaa.com itself has experienced negative growth in total visits.

The flagship property is bleeding users due to an ever-intensifying competition, which is quite clear in the graph given below.

Further, Nykaa, Nykaa Man and Nykaa Fashion have the lowest numbers when it comes to average visit durations.

On the ecommerce front, Nykaa has a lot of catching up to do against its competitors. Some of Nykaa’s private labels — take Dot&Key for instance — have become popular discounted items on Myntra, AJIO, Amazon India and other marketplaces, which shows that the company is forced to use its competition to sell its products.

In contrast, Myntra, AJIO, Tira and Amazon’s private labels are largely walled inside their respective marketplaces. To beat the competition and stay in the public spotlight, Nykaa has opted for the omnichannel strategy, and it is looking to add brand-owned stores on the retail front. But here too, the competition is stiff.

Nykaa Faces Challenges With Its Online-To-Offline Strategy

When we look at the omnichannel operations, Nykaa has 145 physical stores, 38 fulfilment centres, and 2,749 stores of its owned brands. The company plans to open more physical stores this year, according the announcements made in its last earnings call.

Nykaa’s founder and CEO Falguni Nayar had earlier said, “Physical retail is a necessary investment that we need to make, even if it adversely affects overall profitability. So, we are aiming for the optimal mix of online, offline, and duty.”

This is where the situation becomes more complicated. Being primarily an online platform, Nykaa has managed to stay lean and achieve profits thus far. However, opening more stores means more investments and a significant increase in operational expenditure, including higher employee expenses.

Plus, this entails entering into fierce competition with Tata and Reliance.

Reliance Retail alone has launched over 3,300 new stores in FY23 under its various brands, including Tira Beauty, Trends, and others.

Similarly, Tata has been a well-known name in the BPC and fashion industry. It introduced the first-ever cosmetics brand, Lakme Cosmetics, to India (later sold to Unilever). Tata has over 22 in-house labels for its Westside brand, which operates over 200 stores across the country.

While Tata plans to open 20 beauty tech stores, equipped with AI and VR, it already has 391 Zudio stores nationwide.

For Tata and Reliance, it is relatively easier to build an online business backed by their offline stores compared to Nykaa’s strategy of building an offline presence backed by online operations. These large conglomerates have years of experience in building retail brands in the offline space.

So, essentially, Nykaa seems to have lost ground in its strength areas of ecommerce and offline retail, as it is not as experienced as its rivals.

Speaking to Inc42, Devangshu Dutta, the founder and CEO of Third Eyesight, a boutique management consulting firm explained, “Apart from the impact of Covid, in the last 3-4 years, many brands have started moving offline because that’s where the bulk of the business happens. But moving offline means entering a completely different business. You’re not able to centralise inventory as much, and you may not be able to respond to market-specific segments as quickly.”

He also believes, like any other offline retail business, Nykaa will face high operational costs, but it has an advantage in the fact that it may be able to use data more effectively from its online operations. Nevertheless, this is a minor advantage.

“Your store locations have to be correct, and self-sustaining quickly, at least on a cash operating basis. At the business level you may look at profitability in a longer term,” Dutta added.

Profits Plummet: Nykaa’s Other Big Worry

India’s beauty and personal care market, presently valued at $16.8 Bn, is poised to grow at a compound annual rate of 11%, with cosmetics and perfumes categories growing at a faster clip.

According to a joint report by international beauty brand Estée Lauder and Gurugram-based business insights firm 1Lattice, a substantial portion of sales worth about $1.3 Bn are through ecommerce channels. This is expected to grow at a CAGR of 30% during FY22-27, followed by companies that retail beauty products in health and beauty stores and modern retail shops.

With 30% of India’s BPC market share, Nykaa has so far managed to stay ahead in the race. Nykaa’s beauty category (55% of the broad BPC category) saw 33% full-year growth with a GMV of INR 6,649 Cr. On the fashion side, the GMV grew 47% for the full year at INR 2,570 Cr.

BPC and fashion are the two mainstays of Nykaa’s business, even though fashion is a relatively new vertical for the Mumbai-based company. The company had earlier launched Nykaa Man, a separate platform for men’s grooming, beauty and fashion, but with less than 1 Mn visits, it has failed to grow over the last few years while AJIO has grown from 0-37 Mn users, as per analysts.

“At one end, Nykaa’s online PAT has been going down for the last two years, while Nykaa Fashion’s loss for the year has grown consecutively, putting Nykaa business in a fix,” said an analyst from PwC.

Nykaa needs to bring a balance between short-term losses and long-term profits. However, the company’s current strategy fails to show a way out, the analyst added.

The Balancing Act For Nykaa

As per the analyst quoted above, the company’s BPC products have so far had lower prices than Myntra and AJIO, where discounts are typically lower.

However, when compared to Amazon India and its long list of D2C brands and private labels, Nykaa products were slightly more expensive. Amazon also scored over Nykaa with its better supply chain and distribution.

Nykaa banked on product assortment, the assurance of quality and authenticity of products, but as more and more brands join Tira, AJIO and Tata CLiQ, this is also fast eroding.

Access to international brands is no longer exclusive to Nykaa, so it needs to tackle distribution and supply chain, where its rivals score heavily.

Giving Nykaa the benefit of the doubt, a consultant from brokerage firm Motilal Oswal recently said, “There is no clear playbook for these businesses. When Nykaa entered the segment, it was pioneering many aspects in India.”

However, now the company needs to exercise extreme caution regarding expenses and investments because of heavyweight competition with deeper pockets.

P Ganesh, chief financial officer at Nykaa, highlighted that the company still has funds remaining from the IPO, which will be utilised to secure future capital needs.

Ganesh added, “It’s worth noting that while we have observed a considerable increase in working capital as the company scales up, the number of working capital days is expected to stabilise. This means that the amount of funding allocated to working capital should moderate in the future.”

But analysts also believed that Nykaa cannot afford to sacrifice its market share in India’s rapidly growing beauty, personal care, and wellness segment. One thing that is advantageous for Nykaa is that Reliance-owned Tira is still new in the market and will take some time to get to critical mass adoption.

This is a window of opportunity for Nykaa to stretch its lead and fight off its rivals. Nykaa’s brand value primarily comes from its online business, so it must not let offline expenses hinder its online growth plans. However, given the competition, Nykaa is in a Catch-22 situation.

In the BPC segment, owned and private label brands play a vital role in increasing long-term profitability and repeat purchases. All of this will require extensive investment from Nykaa’s leadership — there are segments in BPC where Nykaa has no private label or owned brands.

As of now, the question remains: Can Nykaa maintain its dominance in the online market while facing fierce competition on multiple fronts?

(Published on Inc42)

How Reliance’s Tira Could Snatch Nykaa’s Beauty Crown In India

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May 6, 2023

Gargi Sarkar, Inc42

6 May 2023

With one of the largest consumer bases in the world, the Indian retail industry is on a constant upward spiral, thanks to the increase in the purchasing power of Indian consumers and the ever-increasing ecommerce adoption.

Notably, this has helped segments like online beauty and personal care (BPC) sustain and grow faster than the players in the offline space.

According to industry experts, the online BPC market has been growing in the range of 20% to 25% annually, compared to the offline segment at around 8% to 10% a year. According to a IMARC Group report, India’s BPC market size reached $26.3 Bn in 2022 and is expected to reach $38 Bn by 2028, growing at a CAGR of 6.45% between 2023 and 2028.

Notably, in their endeavour to capture this opportunity, new players are entering the BPC space, and the existing ones have started to scale their omnichannel presence.

The newest entrant in the space is Reliance Retail. The retail major forayed into the BPC market with its omnichannel platform, Tira, earlier last month. Along with launching its app, Reliance Retail also opened its flagship Tira store in Mumbai.

It is crucial to note that existing marketplaces like Nykaa and Purplle, and D2C brands such as SUGAR Cosmetics and Mamaearth, too, have started expanding their offline footprint, after scaling up their online presence.

Similarly, offline retailers such as Loreal India, Sephora, and Hindustan Unilever’s Lakme have increased their focus on expanding their online presence via direct-to-consumer websites.

Graphic source: Inc42

Given that Reliance’s Tira has entered the market with an omnichannel playbook, piggybacking on its parent’s cash reserves, it becomes all the more important to understand what impact it will have in the long run on the existing players and industry dynamics.

According to the industry experts that Inc42 spoke with, the beauty and personal care market offers more than enough opportunities for multiple players to grow, due to multiple favourable factors.

“The BPC segment remains one of the fastest growing categories in consumer retail because the penetration of beauty products has remained relatively low. With increasing awareness, and more disposable income, the BPC segment has witnessed decent growth. Now, since the segment is growing, there is a scope for multiple players to grow. That is why some of the big players have entered into the market,” Ashish Dhir, EVP (consumer and retail), 1Lattice said.

Despite Dhir’s optimism, it is pertinent to note that Nykaa saw some initial pressure on its share prices and overall stock performance with the launch of Tira. Brokerage firm Macquarie said that the entry of new players such as Tira could exacerbate the problems for Nykaa at a time when the competition in the segment is already tough.

In the past, Reliance’s entry into the fashion ecommerce space with Ajio impacted leading existing players like Myntra. Now that we already have an example from the past, coupled with a falling will to spend due to factors like rising unemployment and inflation, it will be interesting to see how Nykaa performs under such pressure.

How Tira Could Threaten Nykaa & Ilks Dominance In The Beauty & Personal Care Space

It is no wonder that Reliance Retail will look at disrupting the market to emerge as a market leader as it has done in every segment.

Compared to sectors such as apparel and telecom, the BPC segment is different, and it is not very easy to scale here the way Nykaa has done over the years, according to Karan Taurani, SVP Research, Elara Capital. He noted that many other players in the past tried to scale but failed.

“Nykaa has emerged as a winner due to several factors such as a superior consumer experience on the app, trustworthiness, and product variety. Currently, the product delivery time is also lesser on Nykaa compared to Tira, although the latter could improve it. Moreover, Nykaa has created a network of influencers over the years, and its approach on social media is very different,” Taurani added.

He, however, highlighted that there will be an initial consumer churn as some customers will try Tira as well, and whether the new venture, Tira, can retain all these customers will depend on the consumer experience it provides.

As per Taurani, marketplaces like Nykaa will see some sort of pinch in terms of demand but will not have a significant impact until Tira offers a differentiated experience. Right now, Tira has very few differentiating factors.

However, we should not forget that Reliance Retail is experienced in building brands and has the heavy financial backing to scale in the offline segment.

Given that many players do not have much experience in the offline segment, they may see a visible impact facing the retail giant in the offline BPC space.

It is important to note that Nykaa’s consolidated net profit fell 70.7% year-on-year (YoY) to INR 8.5 Cr in the December quarter of the financial year 2022-23 (FY23), despite the festive season.

In addition, Mumbai-based beauty ecommerce startup Purplle’s net loss almost quadrupled to INR 203.6 Cr in the financial year 2021-22 (FY22) from INR 52 Cr in FY21.

An optimistic Dhir, however, likes to believe that Tira would only increase the competition in the segment and would not impact the profitability of its rivals, at least in the near term.

Graphic source: Inc42

Will D2C Beauty & Personal Care Brands Face The Heat?

Along with conglomerate-backed large players such as Tata Cliq and online marketplaces, there are several Indian startups and brands such as mCaffeine, Mamaearth, Sugar and Minimalist, which are looking to capture a big chunk of the ever-increasing BPC market pie.

According to an Inc42 report, BPC will remain one of the fastest-growing D2C segments between 2022 and 2030, growing at a CAGR of 27%.

Talking about Tira’s impact, experts said these (aforementioned) D2C brands will not see any major impact due to two factors.

“Firstly, these brands will have similar arrangements with Tira as they have with Nykaa. Secondly, these brands have created a loyal customer base for the products they offer and they have their recall,” Taurani said.

“While deep-pocketed companies can spend their way into buying the market share, all brands need to be prepared for the long term. Also, for these brands a clear positioning be crucial to stand out, not just in their product and service mix but also the overall customer experience specific to their target audience. This would also give opportunities to several beauty and personal care brands to profitably serve niches that may be too small for the larger companies driving for the market, “Devangshu Dutta, the founder of Third Eyesight, said.

Also, Nykaa and Purplle have a portfolio of private labels, which includes skincare brands such as Dot & Key, Earth Rhythm, and Good Vibes, among others. Hence, it will not be surprising if Tira launches its private labels or acquires small brands to grow its portfolio.

As brands like Dot & Key, and Good Vibes are already direct competitors to these D2C beauty brands, a new player can pose more challenges for them.

What Else Could Work In Tira’s Favour

“Our vision for Tira is to be the leading beauty destination for accessible yet aspirational beauty, one that is inclusive and one that harbours the mission of becoming the most loved beauty retailer in India,” Reliance Retail’s executive director Isha Ambani said at the time of launch in April 2023.

When Reliance entered new segments like telecom and fashion ecommerce with Jio and Ajio, respectively, many of the existing players struggled to sustain in the segment as the Mukesh Ambani-led conglomerate scaled up quickly, thanks to its strong financial position. Hence, it will work as the biggest favourable factor in the beauty and personal care space as well, industry experts believe.

Tira is also expected to lure customers with big discounts. “For Tira, a big chunk of revenue will initially go towards marketing and customer acquisition, at least for the first couple of years, as it is a new brand. More than marketing, Reliance will look at discounting more prominently. Reliance will try to give higher discounts compared to other players,” Taurani said.

He added that Reliance has some expertise in building new platforms, such as Ajio, and a rich talent pool and strong brand exposure.

Graphic source; Inc42

While players like Tata Cliq, Purplle, and Myntra’s beauty segment have tried to scale up in BPC, none of these players has seen significant growth. Hence, the market consists of one large player, making it easier for a deep-pocket player like Tira to carve its positioning quickly and create a duopoly with Nykaa.

At the time of Tira’s launch, the company said that the brand would offer a curated assortment of the best global and home-grown beauty brands. In terms of its offline play, Reliance Retail can leverage partnerships with global beauty brands and suppliers to get better deals. As it is looking at an omnichannel play at an entry stage itself, it may be able to gain market share from smaller beauty retailers, especially in bigger cities.

The Tira offline store will have the latest beauty tech tools such as virtual try-on to create customised looks and a skin analyser that will personalise and assist consumers in making purchasing decisions based on their needs, the company said.

On the luxury side, Reliance Retail is also directly targeting the market which has higher margins and could eat into the margins of Nykaa easily. It must be noted that Nykaa’s Luxe is still in its infancy.

While it is true that Tira will increase the competition in the BPC segment, it is not likely to rewrite the industry’s future over the next couple of years. Tira currently has very few differentiating factors in both the online and offline segments. Additionally, in the offline segment, Tira has opened only one store while Nykaa already has 141 physical stores across 56 Indian cities, as shared in its Q3 earnings report.

Even though there are glaring differences, some industry experts see Tira’s journey to be the same as that of Nykaa, going ahead.

(Published in Inc42)

How Mukesh Ambani is aiming to strengthen his businesses for the next decade—from telecom to retail and financial services

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April 24, 2023

Samar Srivastava, Forbes India
April 24, 2023

A board meeting scheduled for May 2 promises to be the start of the value unlocking process for Reliance Industries [Disclaimer: Reliance Industries is the owner of the Network18 group, which publishes Forbes India]. Shareholders of India’s largest company, which has a presence in industries as diverse as petrochemicals, retail and telecom, will each receive shares in its financial services unit—Jio Financial Services.

User data—what consumers search for, their demographic profile as well as their likes as dislikes—are available to India’s largest telecom company with 426 million users. If it can use that data to underwrite credit for consumers, it has a winner. Jio Financial is in a unique position.

Loans to India’s middle class have grown at three percent in the last year. Compare that with credit to industry that has grown at a mere seven percent and it becomes clear why the company is keen to spin this off an independent entity and list it separately on the bourses. A successful listing could result in telecom and retail being eventually listed separately.

An analysis by Jefferies, a brokerage, shows that loans to India’s consuming class present a large market opportunity. Home loans account for about ₹25,00,000 crore, auto loans for ₹471,400 crore, consumer durable loans for ₹37,000 crore, and microfinance for ₹280,000 crore. And there is the rapidly growing personal loan segment at ₹79,000 crore. These all present a large whitespace for the company to tap into. Jeffries also points out that a key advantage of the business would be their access to low-cost capital due to the high credit rating to Reliance Industries.

The step also marks an important milestone in Chairman Mukesh Ambani’s aim to cement his position in the world’s list of billionaires. At $83.4 billion, Ambani is rank 9 on the 2023 Forbes list of world billionaires. Since the pandemic in March 2020, the second-generation entrepreneur has started work on a new energy business, strengthened his retail operations with the acquisition of Metro Cash and Carry, and broadened Jio’s subscriber base with the launch of 5G services.

As he sets out to independently grow his businesses, Ambani finds himself occupying the largest retailer spot by revenue. In the last year, store count is up 52 percent to 17,225 stores while revenues are up 17 percent to ₹67,000 crore and profit up six percent to ₹2,400 crore.

Reliance Retail has adopted a multi-format approach. There is Ajio.com and JioMart that make up its online offering. Digital plus new commerce accounts for 18 percent of sales, according to CLSA, a brokerage. Reliance Trends is its cut price fashion format. There is the soon-to-be-launched Azorte to compete against the likes of Mango and Zara, as well as Reliance Brands that houses global names like Burberry, Armani Exchange, Canali and Jimmy Choo, among others. Add to that its private label business with brands like Campa Cola and Independence and the growth drivers for the next decade are in place.

“Reliance has been clear about dominating the landscape in any sector it has entered in the last 30 years, whether it is petrochemicals, telecom or retail,” says Devangshu Dutta, founder and CEO of Third Eyesight, a retail consultancy. He believes the company is getting into many sectors or formats to capture a larger share of the consumer wallet.

At Jio, its strategy to add subscribers (mainly from Vodafone Idea), increase average revenue per user as well as spread the 5G network has paid off. At 426 million users, it is now the largest telecom operator in the country with an average revenue per user (ARPU) of ₹177. The business has delivered a topline of ₹29,195 crore and profit after tax of ₹4,881 crore. CLSA expects the launch of its portable 5G device, Jio AirFiber, as well as an affordable 5G smartphone to drive growth.

Add to this the synergies that could play out with Jio Financial Services. The business starts with a net worth of ₹1,07,200 crore, giving its balance sheet the strength to leverage and make loans. Even a conservative gearing of five times net worth would make its loan capacity ₹6,00,000 crore—or twice the size of Bajaj Finance—today.

In the new energy business, the company is working on plans to commence production at its new gigafactory in Jamnagar. The company is yet to share updates on progress on this front.

These developments have prompted upgrades by brokerages who believe Reliance Industries offers a favourable risk reward as the downside is capped on account of strong profit growth. In a recent report, CLSA termed Reliance Industries a ‘bargain buy’. In the last 12 months, sales were up 36 percent to ₹2,17,164 crore, while profits were up 16 percent to ₹70,782 crore. Still, the stock price is down eight percent to ₹2,346 per share, and its market capitalisation stands at ₹15,87,500 crore, making it the most valuable company in India.

They point to key monitorables being the rollout of its green energy ventures as well as the execution in its 5G rollout. For now, the company has a comfortable position with regard to leverage. In the quarter ended September 2022, Reliance Industries had reserves of ₹7,83,283 crore and borrowings of ₹3,16,030 crore, leaving it with scope to borrow if new business opportunities come its way. Ambani usually uses the Reliance AGM to announce new plans. Expect the next meeting in a few months to possibly come up with some.

(With inputs from Varsha Meghani)

(Published in Forbes India)

Making a beeline for beauty retail

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April 7, 2023

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)

What does Reliance Retail’s FMCG venture mean for the market?

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August 31, 2022

Devika Singh

Isha Ambani, director of Reliance Retail Ventures Ltd, said on August 29 that the company would soon enter the packaged consumer goods segment. Here’s how the move would impact the segment and existing FMCG players.

With this foray, Reliance Retail will be competing with the likes of FMCG behemoths like Hindustan Unilever, Nestle, and Britannia.

Reliance Retail’s announcement on August 29 that it would enter the packaged consumer goods segment has created buzz in the market.

The retail giant’s entry into the so-called Fast-Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) sector is set to intensify competition as it does in every new industry that its parent, Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL), enters, experts say.

With the venture, Reliance Retail will be competing with FMCG behemoths like Hindustan Unilever, Nestle and Britannia in an industry valued at over $110 billion.

Even so, the company potentially confronts multiple challenges in its intended venture into FMCG.

“The competition intensifies in every segment that Reliance gets into because of their approach of being aggressive and not just in terms of growth. The company also wants to acquire market share very rapidly. The telecom sector was a prime example of this,” said Devangshu Dutta, CEO of retail consulting firm Third Eyesight.

“However, Reliance’s entry into any consumer-facing business has always been a long play,” he added.

The intended entry of Reliance Retail, the retail arm of RIL, into FMCG was announced by Isha Ambani, director of Reliance Retail Ventures, at RIL’s 45th Annual General Meeting (AGM) on August 29.

“I am excited to announce that this year, we will launch our Fast-Moving Consumer Goods business. The objective of this business is to develop and deliver high-quality, affordable products which solve every Indian’s daily needs,” Ambani told shareholders.

Isha Ambani was introduced as the leader of the company’s retail business by Mukesh Ambani, her father and Chairman and MD of RIL, at the AGM.

In his speech, Mukesh Ambani also said that he is hopeful of the retail arm emerging as the largest segment within the group.

Private labels

Reliance Retail already has a presence in the FMCG segment in the form of private labels that are sold in the company’s chain stores such as Reliance Smart, Reliance Mart, and its online grocery platform JioMart.

Brands like Good Life, Best Farms, Desi Kitchen, Snac Tac, Yeah!, Safe Lite, Petals, Mothercare and Calcident are some private label FMCG brands that the company sells.

Private labels (including in the fashion and lifestyle segment) contribute 65 percent of the company’s revenue.

According to analysts, the company initially is going to expand its private label offerings and will focus on segments in which it already has a presence.

“The products which it plans to sell range from groceries like pulses and grains, edible oils, flour, dry fruits, spices, pickles, pastes, idli dosa batter, snacks which include biscuits, namkeens and sweets, ready-to-cook meals, ketchup, jams, carbonated drinks, fruit juices, breakfast cereal, oats, muesli, honey, sauces, tea and coffee in the foods space,” said a note by Edelweiss.

In the non-foods space, the company sells products like soaps, shower gels, hand wash, face wash, hair oils, talcum powder, sanitisers, sanitary pads, diapers, toothpaste and toothbrushes, nail enamel, beauty and hair accessories, and daily essentials including deodorants, nail clippers and scissors, the securities firm said.

Edelweiss said it expects Reliance Retail to initially target the commoditised parts of FMCG like pulses and grains, edible oils, flour, dry fruits, spices, pickles, pastes, idli and dosa batter, namkeens, sweets and lower-end detergents.

Potential strategies

Experts indicate that much on the lines of its earlier playbook, Reliance Retail is likely to adopt organic as well as inorganic strategies for growth in the sector.

“Reliance aims to be a dominant player in every segment and, hence, the company, besides organic growth opportunities, is also likely to look out for acquisitions in the space,” said Dutta of Third Eyesight.

Edelweiss also expects Reliance Retail to acquire regional entities and Direct-to-Consumer (D2C) brands and also target unorganised/regional brands in most FMCG segments it enters.

The company, analysts said, will also look at value-play to gain penetration into the categories.

Impact on the competition

According to experts, the move is set to intensify competition in the segment and may have an impact on existing FMCG companies in the near term.

“We don’t expect a big impact on numbers of existing players from a two-three years’ perspective. However, near-term multiples could come under risk for some companies Hindustan Unilever, Britannia, Marico, Adani Wilmar, Godrej Consumer Products, etc. It will not have much impact on Nestle, Colgate, Dabur, ITC,” Edelweiss wrote in its note.

The impact on the industry will depend on the level of aggression Reliance Retail summons in product launches.

Challenges

FMCG is a well-established segment with well-known brands that have a huge distribution network, and cracking the market would be the biggest challenge for Reliance Retail, industry experts suggested.

“It is tough for new players to get shelf space in kirana (grocery stores). Earlier, we have seen some retailers entering the segment but with little success,” Edelweiss said.

“The existing players have decades of loyalty with consumers and relationships with distributors,” it added.

Analysts indicate that even after getting shelf space, new FMCG players have to constantly innovate to stay ahead of the curve.

“A company can offer early-stage incentives, launch offers to retailers to grab the shelf space but then it has to keep reviving that engine constantly, which is not easy,” said Dutta.

Although Reliance Retail has a significant share of modern retail trade through its grocery chains, the company needs to build a multi-tier distribution network, especially in general trade, which commands 80-90 percent of FMCG sales.

Disclosure: MoneyControl is a part of the Network18 group. Network18 is controlled by Independent Media Trust, of which Reliance Industries is the sole beneficiary.

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