L'Oréal eyes Indian growth

12 September 2011

NEW DELHI: L'Oréal, the cosmetics giant, is hoping to greatly increase its customer base in India, largely through rolling out products covering a wide range of consumer needs and price points.

The owner of Maybelline and Garnier currently boasts around 30m buyers in India, and has established the goal of driving this total to 150m over the next decade.

"We want to have four-to-five times the number of consumers we have today," Vismay Sharma, director of L'Oréal's consumer products division, told DNA India.

Innovation is one core activity supporting this strategy, such as by introducing smaller pack sizes and formulations meeting the unique requirements of local shoppers.

"You have to stay close to your consumers, always," said Sharma. "India is growing in all directions. Our pyramid is becoming a diamond."

"We are creating smaller packs to go deeper in India for consumers who want high quality product but do not have as much money to spend. At the same time, for consumers who want more expensive products, we are creating bigger sizes."

As part of this process, L'Oréal now offers tubes of skincare cream for just 25 rupees ($0.53; €0.39; £0.34), alongside sachets of shampoo commanding only 1.50 rupees, both targeted specifically at the least affluent members of society.

L'Oréal entered India in 1991, and while the country is not within its top ten global markets at present, the firm believes localisation is one key way to change this situation.

"We realised we needed to adapt to local needs," said Sharma.

More broadly, this year, the beauty group is to open its sixth research and development centre worldwide in Mumbai, and it is also in the process of doubling the capacity of its factory in Pune.

From a network of 250,000 outlets in 2009, L'Oréal's goods are also now available in 600,000 sites across India, and the French multinational hopes to increase this figure to 1m in the next four years.

"Four years ago if I had gone to 1m outlets, I did not have products that I could sell. And I didn't have consumers who would be able to afford L'Oréal products," said Sharma. "As we are creating more products to satisfy their needs, we are also creating distribution to reach them."

Data sourced from DNA India; additional content by Warc staff