VanityCask was born after its founder Tarun Joshi would often be requested by his sister to carry back international luxury products during his overseas travel regularly. She would often ask him to bring some samples so that she can try what’s new in the market. This practice didn’t only restrict to Joshi’s sister and soon many of her friends too started to come up with the same requests. Although, the friends’ request for samples were politely declined, however, Joshi gave a thought about the Indian beauty industry. It was the growth of Birchbox and Glossybox that led him to experiment the same model in Indian beauty market. FEonline spoke to the founder of VanityCask Tarun Joshi to understand the business model better and how the Indian beauty market is going to be. Excerpts from the interview:
Q. What is the value of the Indian beauty industry? What is the concept behind VanityCask?
A. By 2015, the market for beauty products was estimated at Rs 30,000 crores and growing with a CAGR of over 20%. However, low penetration of retail and hence the lack of sampling was seen as a key deterrent to growth especially in the premium to the luxury segment. In the meantime, I had been tracking the growth of Birchbox and Glossybox. I then decided to see if such a model would work in Indian conditions.
VanityCask is a unique concept that looks to create an alternate and effective discovery, marketing & distribution channel for the Indian beauty industry. A question that plagues most beauty consumers globally – Do luxury products provide better or more effective beauty solutions than other brands? And if so, is the consumer willing to pay the sizeable premium, for the benefits. But herein lies the challenges.
The first challenge being that most people, trying out luxury, are apprehensive because they cannot gauge the impact it might have on them – and different products do impact people differently. And these products are expensive. No amounts of visits to dermatologists or beauticians can help you choose. The only way to arrive at the right solution for you is to sample and see what products suit you the best.
Which brings us to our second challenge – where in India can one sample luxury beauty products? There are, after all, limited stores for such products! For a moment, imagine specialists short-listing a set of luxury beauty products that shall suit you? Now imagine the luxury of trying out these products, at home, to see how they suit you. And, having access to the latest international trends in beauty?
Well that is exactly what VanityCask provides. VanityCask is a beauty box that gets delivered to your home monthly. It contains samples of luxury beauty brands, handpicked by experts, to suit Indians. Our customers can choose from a 1, 3 or 6 month subscription.
Q. Tell us more about the Venture Capital that has funded VanityCask
A. We have been seed-funded by RB Investments, A Singapore-based boutique Venture Capital fund that invest across sectors globally and have an in-depth understanding of the Indian Startup ecosystem having invested in multiple companies like Faasos, Zooty, Swiggy, Voonic, BlueStone and 5aSec to name a few.
We started full-scale operations in November 2016. In these months we have had a very encouraging response from the market. We are growing constantly at a healthy rate and managed to validate our MVP, when we crossed our first 1000 customers mark in January 2017. We had launched with the skin edition, which was followed by the hair edition and we have launched the spa edition on 1st May 2017.
Starting this month, we will be launching a new box every month. We did not want to rush into this till we had the supply chain & logistics piece totally under control
Q. What is the business and revenue model of the company?
A. Our revenue model is currently based on subscription fees paid by our subscribers
Q. Who are the potential customers for Vanity Cask?
A. The core target is the aspirational Indian women (18-45), who are beauty conscious and constantly seek opportunities to upgrade their beauty quotient.
Q. How is VanityCask different from its competitors?
A. There are 3 key ways we differentiate ourselves from the competition:
1. Specialization: Unlike other boxes, VanityCask offers specialized, category/theme-specific boxes eg. Skin, Hair and Spa editions.
2. Premium-to-luxury: VanityCask provides only well known, premium & luxury brands’ samples. We have partnered with brands like Clinique, Vichy, Thalgo, Votre, Moroccan Oil, Balmain, OGX and Kama to name a few.
3. Content: While each of the samples have been carefully chosen keeping in mind the Indian consumer, the website is packed with educative content that helps the visitor understand the different perspectives of beauty in the Indian context.
Further, I think one of the key cultural difference is that we are customer-centric and driven totally by customer feedback. While this may sound like a clichéd line, it’s a culture at VanityCask. Our business & priorities are all driven by customer needs, their usage and attitudes. We base our decisions on customer feedback. It is this culture that I believe will continue to differentiate us from our customers as we launch newer products in the future.
Q. What are the price range and how one can subscribe?
A. We offer a single box for Rs 999/. A 3-month subscription is priced at Rs. 2399 (Rs 800 / box), while a 6-month subscription is priced at Rs 4199 (Rs. 700 / box). The customer can log on to our site and subscribe in a few simple steps. We offer the facility of both offline and online payments.
Q. How has the response been so far across India, especially small towns and cities?
A. The response has been fantastic on a Pan-India basis. We have delivered to almost every state in the country and to around 200 cities, with over 40% of our subscribers coming from Tier 2 & 3 cities.
Q. What are the future plans for the company?
A. Starting in November 2016, we have had a very encouraging response from the market. We are growing constantly at a healthy rate and managed to validate our MVP (Minimum Viable Product), when we crossed our first 1000 customers mark in January 2017. We had launched with the skin edition, which was followed by the hair edition and we have launched the spa edition on 1st May 2017. Having crossed the MVP stage, we at VanityCask are now working towards fine-tuning our Product-Market-Fit. At this stage we look to deep dive into customer analytics to constantly improve and innovate our offering. During this stage we shall be looking to raise our Series A funding that shall help us bring in technological innovations and prepare us adequately for the next level of growth.