According to a corporate document and a person familiar with its strategy, India’s Tata Group is aiming to construct at least 20 “beauty tech” stores where it will utilize virtual cosmetics kiosks and digital skin testing to convince young, wealthy customers to buy high-end cosmetic products.
The move sets LVMH’s Sephora and homegrown rival Nykaa against Tata, whose businesses span from jewelry to automobiles, for a piece of the rapidly expanding $16 billion beauty and personal care sector in the second-most populated nation on earth.
Tata Group Planning for Beauty Tech
Based on the document, which names The Honest Company, Ellis Brooklyn, and Gallinee as potential partners, Tata Group is focusing on what it terms a “beauty lover” in India who is between the ages of 18 and 45 and enjoys purchasing foreign brands like Estee Lauder’s M.A.C and Bobbi Brown.
As per a person with knowledge of the plan, who did not name specific names, Tata is in discussions with more than two dozen businesses to provide unique merchandise to the new stores.
Sources also claimed that Tata Group declined to comment regarding its proposed beauty outlets and the information in the memo. Requests for comment from The Honest Company, Ellis Brooklyn, and Gallinee representatives went unanswered.
The secretive store launching plans come in the wake of Tata’s recently released Tata CLiQ Palette beauty shopping app. The company already operates brick-and-mortar stores in India through joint ventures with major corporations like Starbucks and Zara.
As per the Tata documentation, the shops’ bright red facades will display the Tata CLiQ Palette trademark, and 70% of the items inside will be skincare and makeup. According to the document, Tata Group intends to install technology inside the stores that will allow consumers to virtually put on a variety of lipstick hues on screens and receive digital skin analyses to determine which items could work best for them.
Although the technology is not new and is used by other beauty merchants across the world, this foray into “experiential retail,” as it is known among industry insiders, is still a relatively new idea in Indian malls and high street shops.
According to Pankaj Renjhen, joint managing director of India’s Anarock Retail consultancy, experiential retail will become more popular in India as more customers spend their free time there. Experiential retail can entice customers in the premium category, where they are looking for something other than price.
However, Renjhen emphasized that in order for a client to return, the goods and brands must be superior and unique.
Targeting Young Customers
Tata Group is aiming to attract relatively young and affluent customers who enjoy shopping in cozy settings and are willing to pay the asking price for premium international brands as India’s economy expands and people start going back to the stores after coronavirus lockdowns.
As per the sources, in the document, Tata Group refers to these clients as “non-bargainers,” in contrast to the majority of Indians who purchase local brands of skin creams or lipsticks at inexpensive prices from small mom-and-pop beauty shops were asking for discounts is customary.
The business is aiming to attract customers who earn at least 600,000 rupees ($7,358) annually, which is more than three times the average income of $2,000 among India’s 1.4 billion people. According to a Tata document, the new outlets should boost sales across all channels as a top destination for Gen Z and Millennials interested in Beauty Tech.
The $16 billion beauty and personal care business in India is far smaller than the $92 billion market in China, but market research company Euromonitor predicts it will expand by an average of 7% annually over the coming years.
According to Devangshu Dutta, CEO of New Delhi-based retail consultancy firm Third Eyesight, the Indian beauty market is far from saturated. There is a long runway of development ahead if we invest for the long term, keeping rising income profiles and changing lifestyles in mind.
Tata Group must compete fiercely to benefit from the anticipated expansion. There are 26 stores where Sephora sells beauty and fragrance products in India, where it has been present for around ten years. According to a person familiar with its intentions, Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance has a long-term plan to establish 400 beauty boutiques, with the first one perhaps opening inside a Mumbai mall next month. An inquiry for comment from Reliance was not answered.
The Indian cosmetics retailer Nykaa, backed by the private equity firm TPG, the asset manager Fidelity, and a Bollywood star, has announced intentions to expand its current 124 stores to as many as 300. The 10-year-old business, which began as an online-only retailer, caught the industry’s attention last year when its shares nearly doubled following its IPO on the Mumbai stock exchange, valuing it at $14 billion at the time.
About the Upcoming Challenges
According to a person familiar with the idea, Tata Group will probably establish its first “beauty tech” store by the end of March. The business will then likely expand during the remainder of the current fiscal year, starting in April, and could open up to 40 stores overall.
Another person with direct knowledge of the discussions claims that Tata Group is having difficulty convincing owners of upscale malls, where space is limited, to accept a new beauty store where one already exists if it lacks sufficient exclusive products or another differentiating factor to draw new customers and boost foot traffic to the mall as a whole.
In addition to introducing exclusive products, Tata is concentrating on in-store technology, referred to in the memo obtained by Reuters as a “key differentiator.” Tata’s “skin analyzer,” a device with a mirror that can scan and analyze a customer’s skin to disclose 25 to 30 features that might aid in product selection, will be one of the technological tools available.
Additionally, there will be kiosks for eye and face makeup “virtual try-ons.” One of them will have a circular stand with slots for lipsticks; when a customer raises one, a digital mirror screen in front of them will begin automatically revealing how the color shade would appear on the face, doing away with the necessity for numerous manual try-ons before a purchase.
The person familiar with the plans added that Tata Group is also testing the usage of so-called geofencing technology to enable its store personnel to recognize when a client using its app enters and share the buying history and wish lists with staff to make better recommendations.