André Hoffmann, executive director, vice-chairman and managing director of L’Occitane en Provence, talks about how India is still not exposed to premium cosmetics, but has high demand for such products. Edited excerpts from an interview with FE Sunday…
India has several companies offering organic, herbal and ayurvedic cosmetic products. How do you position your brand in such a market?
L’Occitane offers natural beauty products and cosmetics directly inspired from the south of France. Our products are natural ingredient-based cosmetics. The aim of this brand is to bring the traditional benefits from Provence to the entire world. In India, L’Occitane’s customers want to be seen as sophisticated consumers who have a sense of authentic fragrances and products. They want to be seen as cosmetics connoisseurs who have a great knowledge of the products they are buying. By choosing L’Occitane, a customer chooses high-quality, traceable, natural products that are sourced responsibly with respect to the environment.
How has the brand’s experience been in India so far?
L’Occitane came to India in 2009, and we have come a long way since then. We have opened over 12 stores across all major cities, besides selling on an e-commerce platform. Our brand has been received well by Indian consumers, and we hope to increase our presence in the coming years in retail channels, as well as our ventures in spa, hotel amenities, etc. Our focus is going to be a lot on the digital platform this year.
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What have you learned about the Indian consumer?
The beauty and personal care market in India is growing very fast and has huge growth potential, as a large category of products and premium international brands still have only limited penetration in the country. L’Occitane anticipated the rising demand for luxury beauty products, as buying capacity and purchasing power increased and tastes grew for aspirational consumer products. This is the reason L’Occitane considers India as one of its very important markets. Face care continues to be our number one priority.
The cosmetics market has seen a growing demand from men as well. Men have emerged as an important target customer for the brand, as L’Occitane offers a good portfolio of men’s range and unisex products for all personal grooming needs. Specifically in India, the men’s portfolio is doing significantly well, with men becoming increasingly conscious of their grooming needs.
Consumers are also looking for products that are natural and/or organic, and that are gentle and safe for the skin—and L’Occitane, being a natural beauty brand, is a good choice.