In India, beauty is almost always related to fair skin and many personal care brands in the country have tried to leverage this mindset to build up their empires. But when Bajaj Nomarks came to market, it brought in a new proposition. Nomarks is not about fairness but about removing blemishes and marks to get a clearer and cleaner complexion.
“Nomarks is the brand that started the whole anti-marks skin-care space in India. It was the first anti-marks brand in the country and gained market share very rapidly in the initial years but over the last few years it lost its share quite rapidly,” said Sandeep Verma, President Sales and Marketing, Bajaj Corp Ltd.
Verma attributed this loss in market share to the proliferation of new steroid-based brands, which were also promising the benefit of mark removal. To complicate matters, these brands were owned by pharmaceutical giants.
“These new creams that were entering the Indian market were made by pharmaceuticals giants and they are obviously very strong in the pharmacist channels and so there was a big proliferation of these brands in the pharmaceutical channels. We did not have a strong presence in this channel,” said Verma.
The brand also realised it was losing its connect with the consumers. These are the reasons that propelled it to undergo a repositioning.
“To reposition ourselves, we leveraged three key new trends in the Indian skin-care market. The first trend was a strong consumer preference for Ayurveda and this whole movement towards safe, non-toxic products. The second trend we leveraged was consumers defining ideal skin now as not just being fair but also healthy and related to that is the third trend, which is consumers moving from just looking good to feeling good. These are the key trends we used to define our strategy,” said Verma.
The repositioning exercise involved an overhaul of the packaging, which now focused more on the ayurvedic aspect of the brand. The brand repositioned itself as a modern ayurvedic brand and the new packaging became a key element in strongly communicating this new positioning.
The brand has also launched a new ad film featuring Tapsee Pannu. Created by Lowe Lintas, the campaign has Pannu playing a double role, that of a housewife and a career woman. The career woman walks in and complains about how her hectic schedule and the effects it has on her skin. At this point her twin sister, the housewife, comes in with a solution – Bajaj Nomarks.
Commenting on why they chose Pannu for the ad film, Verma said, “Taapsee Pannu’s success in the Indian film industry is quite remarkable given the fact that she is not from a film industry background. She is an entirely self-made person. Secondly, she is very vocal in terms of her thoughts and what she really believes in. So, we felt that she is the epitome of confidence and ambition and that is something our audience also aspires to and therefore we felt that she was a perfect fit for the brand.”
While Verma did not share any numbers, he did mention that the investment that has gone behind this repositioning is the biggest that the brand has seen its inception.
“This is the biggest investment the brand has seen since its inception. We believe in the story of this brand, we believe that this brand can add a lot of value to the consumers’ lives and we will continue to keep investing significantly behind this brand over the long term,” said Verma.
The anti-marks creams segment is a Rs 350-crore sub-category under the skin-care segment and according to Verma it is also the fastest growing sub-category with a 25% plus year-on-year growth.
This is also the reason that the brand wants to focus on the anti-marks cream segment for now.
“Currently we are No. 3 in the anti-marks cream category. Once we are a strong No. 2 we will extend ourselves and start communicating about the other formats that we are present in as well and all of that will be in the anti-mark space only. We first want to establish our equity using this cream as the best anti-marks cream and then extend it into other formats. That is what we want to do over the next few years. We eventually want to establish ourselves as India’s No. 1 brand in marks removal and that is why we, to begin with, will focus just on the cream section,” said Verma.
Bajaj Nomarks has a market share of 8% right now.
According to a Kantar Worldpanel study, customer loyalty in personal care brands is very fickle but for Verma customer loyalty is not as much of a concern as bringing new customers into the fold is.
“In general, there is a low customer loyalty across most FMCG brands. But when it comes to personal care and especially when it comes to face care, the customer loyalties are a little on the higher side. People typically don’t want to experiment with products because that can impact how one looks. Face care is not a category where consumers like to experiment too often. They experiment initially but once they find something that suits them, they tend to stick with it. Customer loyalty is not my big concern in this category, my big concern is how do I get people to try my products. Building trials is the challenge in this category,” said Verma.
When it comes to competition, Bajaj Nomarks not only has to compete with pharmaceutical brands but also MNC brands like ‘Fair&Lovely No Marks’ and products like Aloe Vera Gel from Patanjali that promises marks removal as a benefit.
The brand is also recognising the increasing base of male users for their product.
“It is true that a lot of men are using products that are marketed to women, we call them closet users. Currently we don’t have any specific products that target men but we are watching the evolution of the men’s grooming space very closely,” said Verma.
Verma also mentioned that the festive season is also best season for re-launching or repositioning a brand and especially if it is a beauty care brand.
“In states like Maharashtra, there is a very significant uplift in sales during the festive season. 30% of the year’s consumer off-take in Maharashtra happens during the months when the Abhyanga Snana happens. Similarly, in West Bengal, a 20% increase in sales can be seen during the Durga Puja month. Also occasions such as Karva Chauth and Teej are very important in the Northern belt and we see increased sales there as well.”
Verma said that the brand increased their marketing spend in proportion to the increase in sales during these months.