Forbes India 15th Anniversary Special

India is scripting a personal care story for millennials: Varun and Ghazal Alagh

In August 2020, the cofounders of Mamaearth were on the cover of our D2C special at a time when that market was at an inflection point, and the startup was taking baby steps in its transition to a personal care brand. Three years later, the maverick duo is busy building a house of brands for millennials

Published: Jun 15, 2023 04:39:22 PM IST
Updated: Jun 15, 2023 04:38:40 PM IST

Mamaearth co-founders Varun (right) and Ghazal Alagh
Image: Madhu KapparathMamaearth co-founders Varun (right) and Ghazal Alagh Image: Madhu Kapparath

In today’s fast-paced digital era, India has emerged as one of the strongest markets for personal care consumption, and millennials have emerged as a powerful consumer segment that cannot be ignored. Millennials have grown up in a world shaped by technology, connectivity, and instant access to information. Hence, digitisation has helped new brands break the clutter and establish themselves in the minds of the consumer. The real disruption in this segment came with digital allowing a brand to connect with its consumer directly, democratising the channel and presenting a plethora of options of new brands.

For years, Indian consumers have been geographically discriminated by physical distribution—most brands which were aspirational were limited to a handful of cities in India and expected consumers from Tier II and beyond to travel to these cities and purchase them. Today D2C (direct-to-consumer) and ecommerce have disrupted this distribution challenge by allowing a consumer from 25,000 PIN codes to fulfil their brand aspirations while sitting in the comfort of their homes.  

As a market, we are moving away from a family consumption pattern to individual consumption, leading to a greater need for choice, and a wider opportunity for brand creation. Customers are far more experimental with the brand offerings today than ever before. In order to effectively build brands for millennials, it is crucial to understand their unique mindset and preferences.

Millennials value authenticity, purpose, and experiences over material possessions. They are more likely to support brands that align with their personal values, such as sustainability, social responsibility and inclusivity. Additionally, they crave personalisation and customisation along with seamless interactions across various touchpoints, both online and offline. Understanding that millennials today invest in ‘why’-based brands instead of ‘what’-based brands, we have created a ‘house of brands’ that is striving to build brands that cater to a wider purpose that has a lasting impact on society and goes beyond just the product and brand propositions.
Technology and data have truly helped us disrupt the conventional, and have been at the heart of our business and the core differentiator for us. With technological advancements, communicating with these millennials is efficient, targeted, and personalised. Digital content has generated geographical democracy and digital media now has the ability to reach like a sniper rather than bazooka. Earlier, the media was available only in bulk, at very high costs and with a wide audience base. With the advancement in technology, we are able to utilise targeted packets of media, and create sharper, effective and personalised communications that are crafted for them.

Also read: Varun and Ghazal Alagh's Mamaearth empire is built on the foundation of frugality

We have realised that millennials are most influenced by other millennials and respond better to content that is meaningful and contextualised to their specific needs and preferences as compared to traditional content formats. Word of mouth and voices of influencers have emerged as key sources of driving brand awareness and consideration.

The tastes, preferences and habits of each millennial or generation-Z consumer are different. In order to reach the target consumers, through our data warehouse, we capture customer data across demographic, behavioural, and transactional variables and leverage this data to segment our user base into micro-cohorts and power our personalisation engine on our direct-to-consumer platform.

Mamaearth co-founders Varun (right) and Ghazal Alagh
Image: Madhu KapparathWe intend to constantly learn and further refine our personalisation engine to deliver a more tailored, contextualised experience to our users, deepen brand connect and drive consumer retention and repeat. For instance, our ability to integrate technology with our purpose-driven initiatives such as geo-tracking of the trees planted under our Plant Goodness initiative enables visibility and transparency for our consumers and strengthens trust. We have launched a strong purpose for each brand that is core to its proposition and helps add value to the lives of customers and the people it impacts.

Through technology, we have been able to innovate collaboratively with our consumers wherein we use our proprietary tool to follow and analyse search trends, run consumer surveys with over two thousand inputs before we start working on any innovation.

In fact, technology has been pivotal in hyper personalising and nano marketing. From single-pen profiles that brands used to make advertising for, we have moved to thousands of micro profiles and contexts with variation of core message, language and now even the ability to use weather as a marketing message. Our platforms have been created to show personalised products that are relevant to the consumer.

Building successful brands for millennials requires adapting to their unique mindset and leveraging technology to disrupt traditional marketing and distribution practices. Our distribution landscape has grown to sell over 30 million units to over 5 million consumers across 18,000 pin codes across the country.

As the beauty and personal care industry evolves, brands that embrace technological advancements and understand the millennial consumer will have a competitive edge in this ever-changing landscape.

(This story appears in the 16 June, 2023 issue of Forbes India. To visit our Archives, click here.)