Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Anti-ageing cream goes young

When consumer products major Hindustan Unilever (HUL) recently relaunched its Pond’s anti-aging skin cream range, it was not only launching a ‘new-improved’ version of the product but also responding to a larger change in the core target consumers of anti-aging products — from the middle-aged 35-40-years-old women to 20-something girls, yes, but even men too!

Says Oriflame India national sales manager Shilpa Ajwani: “Today, we have customers in the 20-years-plus age group who start preventive skin care through anti-aging creams and while women are still the larger consumer base, there is faster growth in demand for anti-aging products by men too. This is unlike the scenario sometime back when classically 40-years-plus women were our target customers.”

The company launches about six anti-aging products a month, which now account for over a quarter of its sales in India.

Cosmetics are conventionally bundled into three categories — skin lightning, moisturising and anti-aging. Market research firm ACNielsen puts the anti-aging cosmetic market in India at over Rs 60 crore. Though just over 2% of the country’s Rs 3,000-crore skin care market, the anti-aging segment is the fastest growing at 93% year-on-year.

Anti-aging cosmetics include products as diverse as anti-aging lipsticks and eye balms, facial creams, hair lotions and foot creams. Consumers pay Rs 500-6,000 for such products from brands like Mary Kay, Revlon, Schwarzkopf, Procter & Gamble, HUL, et al.

Schwarzkopf Professional country head Murali Sundar confirms anti-aging products’ age defying trend: “With time, usage of anti-aging products has got little to do with a person’s age. Rising consumer awareness means that people in their late twenties have started buying our anti-aging hair care products. While the bulk of our customers are still women, men are fast waking up to hair-care.”

While busy lifestyles and concomitant stress hasten skin aging, rising incomes and awareness are facilitating fast consumer adoption of anti-aging products. But that’s not all, for there is also another important factor at play here. Consumers today opt to prevent and correct rather than repair at a later stage. Marketers are quick to spot this trend and are responding appropriately.

Says HUL skin care category head Venkat Shridhar: “Today, sales of bulk of our anti-aging creams come from 28-30-years-old women. Personal care spends have increased a lot in the past 3-4 years. Easy access to parlours, supermarkets and greater exposure to media have led people to spend more on hygiene and beauty. Hence, all our communication also highlights prevention as the way out to delay aging.”

Agrees Mary Kay India senior marketing manager Nirupama Rao: “Anti-aging products have ceased to be prescriptive in nature. Today, they are used for preventive purposes. Consumers realise that they help in delaying the damage caused due to aging.”

Though the current penetration of anti-aging products is low, marketers see huge potential in the category and are prioritising for its growth. Says Devendra Shinde, marketing head, Kaya Skin Clinic, Marico’s 56-store strong skin-care division: “Our age control Botox and Fillers treatments have grown up to four times in the last year.
Currently, age control packages account for 15% of our revenues and are expected to grow even more robustly.”

“We are witnessing a 30% year-on-year growth in the anti-aging segment. The age of consumers of anti-aging cosmetics is coming down rapidly and there is increased penetration of these products in India. This segment is expected to contribute substantially to our growth,” says Revlon India marketing director Deepak Bhandari. The company markets its anti-aging products under the Revlon Reveal brand, priced Rs 350-750.

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