The global cosmetic industry worldwide is dominated by a few luxury brands that have a long history and marketing tactics that could fill pages of success studies. The most viable impact for cosmetic exporters from India has to come from our Ayurvedic cosmetic industry. We have the edge in our ancient traditions. This market is also on the verge of a breakthrough and we are uniquely poised to benefit from it.
The World Health Organization predicted that by 2050 the herbal market worldwide will grow to $5 trillion from $62 billion in 2014. The good news is that India and China have the edge in knowledge that has been passed down the ages along with the rich biodiversity required for these medicinal herbs. The bad news is that we have failed to take advantage of this situation.
Although, India and China have a considerable share in the herbal cosmetic market, their combined share of less than 16% and 13% of this belongs to China! In other words, India commands just 2.5% of the global herbal cosmetic market. This share is simply too low to be counted. Yet, what makes this sector of interest to exporters is our potential to make a difference.
Areas of Action
Unlike many other countries, India already has a recognized system of traditional formulations for cosmetic benefits. We also have a fairly robust industrial interest and activity in this area. Yet, clearly there is still a lot to be done.
Strengthening local manufacturers: We cannot achieve a worldwide status without strengthening our own local manufacturers. Although the government has committed to creating greater awareness and opportunities for Ayurveda-based industry with the department of AYUSH, this is still not enough. There is lack of investment and consolidation within the industry. Barring a few brands, there are no big companies, brands or businesses.
Focused marketing: Rising sales are often just a matter of clever marketing campaigns with a focused marketing push, especially, when trying to break into a new market. Unfortunately, many of the companies here fall in the SME sector and do not have the expertise or the firepower to lead a massive marketing campaign. This means that we need to look into innovative solutions, such as social media marketing, partnering with local bodies and so on.
Educating: One of the major roadblocks for herbal cosmetic exports India is the lack of awareness globally about such products. India has a rich tradition in Ayurveda and other traditional lore about cosmetic products. For many Indians, this is wisdom handed down the ages. But for many people across the world, this are new ideas.
For it to make an actual business impact in a new demographic, we have to start with the basics.
Herbal products are all based on plant extracts and for people to accept these, they have to first understand and accept the benefits of using such products. That is why marketing in such products has to go hand-in-hand with an education thrust.
Better packaging: In the very competitive markets of the developed world, good packaging is essential. Remember, we are also competing with luxurious brands that also claim 100% natural products. While cosmetic exporters India are not exactly positioned to compete with such brands, our presence cannot be counted if we cannot at least improve our appearance. When stacked in an aisle, it must be attractive enough for someone to pick it up.
More investment: The herbal cosmetic industry in India also needs a huge push in investment. There are a number of SME companies in this sector, which need a capital for the aggressive marketing required for a global markets. Collaborations, angel investors, VCs and easy bank loans can go a long way in achieving this.
Standardization: The herbal cosmetic suffers from perception of poor quality control. Some of this has to do with the formulations themselves. It is not always possible to get a standard result. However, the global industry only works on these criteria. In addition, there has to be concentrated push towards quality improvement and compliance with different certification standards.
The global herbal cosmetics market is set to take off and India can have a big part of the revenues. But before that cosmetic exporters India is in dire need of government intervention and business revival.