Forbes India 15th Anniversary Special

Storyboard 18 - Only 20% business comes from online channels: Colorbar's Samir Modi

In an exclusive interview with Storyboard18, Samir Modi, founder & managing director, Colorbar Cosmetics, shares the company's plans to go global and public, be more inclusive, and go D2C

Published: Jan 13, 2022 05:24:56 PM IST

Storyboard 18 - Only 20% business comes from online channels: Colorbar's Samir Modi
Samir Modi, founder and MD, Colorbar Cosmetics

From selling lipsticks at Rs 75 and nail paints at Rs 35 from a store in Chandigarh, to operating out of 1,300 shop-in-shops and 100 brand stores, Colorbar has come a long way to establish itself as one of the prominent Indian cosmetic brands in the beauty and personal care segment. According to a Euromonitor report, Colorbar ranks fourth in market share (3.6 percent) after companies like Unilever, L'Oréal Groupe and Estée Lauder Cos Inc, which own a host of beauty and personal care brands. Unilever Group, for instance, owns Lakme, and L'Oréal Groupe owns Maybelline and Garnier, among others.

Colorbar is a part of Modi Enterprises, a $1.5 billion-plus group housing brands like Pan Vilas, 24Seven, Modicare, and Godfrey Phillips India Limited.

While Unilever Group is at a much higher market share of 15.1 percent, L'Oréal Groupe and Estée Lauder Cos Inc are at 8.8 percent and 4 percent, respectively.

The Indian beauty and personal care industry was valued at Rs 54,558 crore in 2020. The market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 11 percent in the forecast period of 2022-2027, as per a report by market research and business intelligence company EMR.

Colorbar wants to be a significant part of this growth story.

“We want to dominate the beauty space not just in India but also globally,” says Samir Modi, founder and MD, Colorbar Cosmetics, when we asked him about the brand’s ambitions.

Between March 2020 and now, the brand has expanded in markets like Sri Lanka, Maldives, Malaysia, Bangladesh, and Canada, and is now planning to enter the UK, Europe, and the Middle East markets.

Colorbar is also planning to go public in three years, Modi informs.

Increasing investments in marketing

Increasing global footprint and planning for IPO would be backed by a significant increase in marketing expenses. Colorbar has spent almost Rs 50 crore in the last six months and plans to push the budget to Rs 200 crore in the next fiscal towards what they like to call ‘marketing and community building’.

Clearly, the brand is out of Covid-19 gloom.

Even after writing off inventory worth Rs 70 crore in 2020, a renewed focus on marketing communications has brought the brand back to health with its top-line already 10 percent above pre-Covid numbers.

“We are hoping to close 2021 at a little over Rs 400 crore and for 2022, we are aiming for Rs 800 crore in business,” says Modi.

Driving engagements through influencers

While Jacqueline Fernandes has been the face of the brand for over two years, Colorbar is also getting real women on board to strengthen the brand narrative—‘be who you want to be’.

In their recent festive campaign with Sony Music Entertainment, the brand partnered with 1,000 beauty influencers across India to promote the Sinful Matte Lipstick collection. The influencers dance to the tune of Badshah’s ‘Bad Boy x Bad Girl’, raking in 12 million views.
Reach, according to Modi, came through the top influencers, but the "reach out" happened through micro-influencers.

The campaign's objective was to get as inclusive as possible and collaborate with influencers not just with a huge follower base, but also the smaller ones.

“Our brand objective is to have every consumer wear Colorbar, irrespective of geographical location and gender because Colorbar is for all who love makeup,” Modi says.

Inclusivity mantra and cosmetics for men

Talking of inclusivity, Modi says makeup is not just for women. “We want to be more inclusive in terms of the staff we engage and also the products we back. We have also started selling five shades of nail paint for men and primers for the modern-day man who likes to wear makeup,” he says.

By inclusivity, Modi also means products for every buyer and every colour. According to him, Colorbar is the only Indian brand with 30 foundation shades that covers every skin tone across the globe.

The primary focus for Colorbar is to work on quality products that can compete with any global luxury brand in the segment. “India is a market of durability. Lipsticks should last and nail paints shouldn’t chip. We work with the sole motive of making that happen,” he adds.

While the core business of Colorbar is still colour cosmetics, they are also focusing on making their skincare offerings grow. Turns out, 30 percent of Colorbar’s business is now from their skincare range, and Modi expects it to grow further.

The offline play and going D2C

Modi believes offline stores are where the real business is. “Only 20 percent of our business comes from online and the rest is from offline channels. However, we do not want to disappoint our online buyers. We are working to put together a D2C platform soon,” Modi tells us about the company’s plans.

Analysts say that the D2C move will come in handy given their plans to go public.
“People should be able to relate with the brand and in spite of having the look and feel of luxury, it should be affordable. While Colorbar ticks both the boxes, it should continue to be that way if they want to build on the affinity,” says Mihir Mehta, SVP, Ashika Capital.

Talking about the beauty segment overall, Mehta says, affinity is one of the main reasons behind the success of Nykaa IPO. “A lot of people who do not understand the mechanism of public listings also took interest in the Nykaa IPO because they were the actual end-users who knew the brand and wanted to be a part of it. Public listings are a good way to create a solid legacy for a consumer brand, and Colorbar must keep working on creating the consumer connect,” he says.

Makeup on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs

According to Mehta, there has not been a better time for beauty brands to grow their businesses in India: “From a cultural perspective, a large part of the Indian population now satisfies its basic needs, which is food, shelter and clothing and there has also been an increase in per capita income. So where does the excess money go?"

As investors, Mehta tells us, they follow Maslow's hierarchy of needs. "Our observation is that the excess goes into self-actualisation which includes looking good, feeling good, and so on—this is where the beauty and personal care segment comes in with ample opportunity for brands in the current day and time,” Mehta concludes. Roti, kapda, makaan aur makeup—that's how it goes.

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