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Startups should focus on quality, profitability rather than ad blitzkrieg: SkinKraft Co-Founder Chaitanya Nallan

Apart from sharing his views on heavy ad spends by startups, Nallan speaks about SkinKraft’s marketing strategy and growth journey

Chaitanya Nallan

With fundraising in top gear, the Indian startup community is going all out, bombarding communication mediums through ads, celebrity endorsements, content and influencer marketing despite the struggling economy.

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While it is great news that startups are adding a valuable share to the Indian adex, using ad spends wisely is key. A brand must focus first on offering a good product and then think of marketing itself.

Chaitanya Nallan, CEO and Co-founder of SkinKraft, told BestMediaInfo that marketing a bad product will result in a bad outcome for the company. “While running a company, there is a place for product development, customer experience enhancement, research and other things. Ad spends also have a place in the overall scheme of things. Now if everything goes to zero and one just keeps pounding people with marketing messages, it is then a bad thing.”

He said, “Overall, ad bombardment is bad. But look at the market, very few products are differentiators. So many companies say their products are natural, organic, eco-friendly while only a few are offering what they say. Brands tend to believe that whoever shouts the loudest will be remembered by the people.”

Nallan said brands must check if their marketing spends are profitable or not. “If one rupee is spent making half a rupee, then the brand is in trouble. But if one rupee is spent to earn 2-3 rupees, then the brand is in good hands.”

According to PwC, the startup ecosystem already has 70% funding in just five months this year as compared to the entire 2020. Nallan pointed out that D2C (direct to consumers) is a very hot sector at present and there is a lot of money in the market coming here from VCs.

“A lot more VC (venture capital) money is chasing D2C. As it happens typically, most part of the funding goes into marketing to scale up revenues. Then again the brand goes into the cycle of raising funds again and then increasing revenue. One difference between D2C and other businesses is that D2C is a high gross margin business. There is a larger scope of absorbing higher marketing spends.”

Nallan, along with Veerendra Shivhare and Sangram Simha, founded SkinKraft in 2017. It is India’s first AI-enabled customised personal care brand, offers different skin, body and hair care products for women and men. This is done after a complete analysis of a person’s skin and hair through an online questionnaire.

In a matter of three years, SkinKraft has become a Rs 100-crore ARR (annual recurring revenue) brand. Nallan told BestMediaInfo that his company expects a revenue growth of more than 50% this fiscal. He said the brand has more than 600,000 users with repeat rates as high as 40%. SkinKraft boasts having on an average 5000-6000 people answering the questionnaire every day.

While the brand started with focus on tier 1 cities, it now gets almost 40% of its sales from tier 2 and 3 cities. Stating the reason for this shift, Nallan said, “For the last two years, the sales were dominated by tier 1. The product was designed for tier 1. After the lockdown, we are seeing that a lot of sales have shifted to tier 2 and 3 as many people have migrated to hometowns in tier 2 and 3 cities. Though, there could be other reasons as well.”

In February this year, SkinKraft launched its first-ever brand campaign — #iammytype. The proposition of the campaign is to celebrate uniqueness and debunk stereotypes. Every individual has his or her own distinct personality, set of religious beliefs, habits, lifestyle, philosophies, political instincts, and professions. Why should their skin and hair care be generic and not tailored just for them? As part of the campaign, the brand launched the film ‘I am my type’, talking about breaking the shackles that try to pigeonhole women.

SkinKraft brand film:

Delving deeper into the insight of the campaign, Nallan said, “The beauty landscape is moving away from mass production to bespoke personalised solutions and experiences. SkinKraft was born out of two undeniable truths. First, to rescue women caught in an unrewarding cycle of experimentation in the quest to find good skin and hair care products. Second, to avoid churning out generic formulations in the mass market. With this campaign, we have tried to imbibe the same ideology that just like a woman’s individuality, her skin and hair is also unique; hence requiring a beauty and wellness regime that has been created and curated solely for her.”

Last month, the brand extended the narrative of the campaign with a video series featuring opinion leaders, innovators, artists and experts across industries.

The video series:


The campaign is present on the digital medium. The brand intends to go all out across mediums, including OOH, TV, print, radio in another six months. SkinKraft relies heavily on content marketing than advertising, said Nallan.

Many brands, after running an online business, target to open offline stores. But Nallan said right now there is so much opportunity on online itself that there is a long way to go for them to go offline. He said the brand has at least another two years to launch offline stores or enter the retail space.

SkinKraft and its sister concern Vedix are owned by Incnut Digital. In July last year, the company raised around $ 4 million funding in Series A from RPSG Ventures, an early stage consumer-centric venture capital fund backed by RP-Sanjiv Goenka Group as its sponsor investor.


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