L’Oréal India seeks to amp up its online play, aims to become €1 bn business

Aseem Kaushik, managing director, L’Oréal India.
Aseem Kaushik, managing director, L’Oréal India.


  • L’Oréal expects that the 50 million Indian consumers who are buying beauty online will in the next 3-4 years become 150 million. So there will be an addition of almost 100 million beauty buyers on e-commerce. L’Oréal wants to lead this shift, with its brands and as a group in India.

Mumbai: India's beauty market will continue to report growth—both online and offline—helped by demand for personal-care products such as skin cream, lipsticks, and perfumes, according to Aseem Kaushik, managing director, L’Oréal India. 

Kaushik has spent close to three decades at the French firm, and took charge of its India business last year. L’Oréal, the world’s largest beauty company, entered the Indian market in 1994 and sells a range of beauty and personal-care products under brands such as Garnier, Maybelline New York, L’Oréal Paris and Kiehl’s. In FY23, L’oreal India Pvt Ltd reported a 33% jump in revenues at 4,994 crore and a 17% increase in net profit at 488 crore. Edited excerpts.

Volumes of fast-moving consumer goods have been under some pressure over the last few quarters—how has growth been for L’Oréal India?

Yes, there has been a slowdown in the FMCG industry. Because we don't play in rural India; and within urban India, we are on the top-end of the segment serving 300 million people—so we are shielded. Other companies are also reporting growth in their beauty portfolio, which is a good sign because it corroborates our overall estimation of the market. There will be headwinds in India, but from an overall macro level of 3-5 years, I think it's going to be quite a dynamic industry and category.

Is the company on track to double India business in the mid-to-near term?

Yes. The idea is that we want to be a Euro 1 billion business in the next 3-4 years. We are on track for that.

Will this require more investments?

We have two manufacturing plants in India, and we have enough capacity for the next 2-3 years to take care of this doubling of business. But will we be investing more in it.

Increasingly e-commerce is becoming a growth driver for the beauty and personal-care segment. How big is it for the company?

E-commerce is more than one fifth of our business in terms of value. It continues to grow very rapidly. Today, there are about 200 million Indian consumers who buy anything on e-commerce. The beauty consumers on e-commerce are close to about 50 million. The penetration of the beauty category in e-commerce is still very low versus the total number of people who are buying anything on e-commerce. We expect that the 50 million Indian consumers who are buying beauty online will in the next 3-4 years become 150 million, at least. So there will be an addition of almost 100 million beauty buyers on e-commerce. We want to lead this shift, with our brands and as a group in India.

How big can e-commerce become in the next five years for the company?

Our internal estimate is that 50% of our growth in the next 4-5 years is going to come from e-commerce. So that one-fifth obviously will go much higher.

What does this shift entail for L’Oréal India and for the beauty industry?

The shift entails two things. What does it mean for the consumer to buy inside a shop versus buying online? It starts from the shift in consumer behavior in the last few years, especially among younger consumers vis-a-vis how they make their purchase decisions. So, you start with a discovery on social media and maybe buy online or offline. But that does not mean that the relevance of offline is becoming less. In fact, offline is becoming more relevant. The overall brand presence has to be exactly in line with what you've seen via an influencer video etc. So your offline experience becomes very, very important within the category. And this is what you are seeing pan out with this evolution in modern trade. Modern trade is becoming a more evolved space in terms of experience. Offline and online today are both profoundly important for any brand.

On the brand side too, we are seeing increased competition. Have you encountered this kind of competition in the last three decades?

E-commerce and digitalization have eased the access to consumers and helped in building a brand. The more players who come into this category, there will be more action in the category overall. To us, it’s a very healthy sign that people want to start up, they want to invest in beauty, because they think that it is a very profitable category that will continue to grow. Entrepreneurs bringing in new products sometimes challenges us, sometimes they also realize that it's not all that easy either.

Are there any missing pieces in your portfolio?

Within India, we have a long way to go with our existing portfolio of brands. We've got 12 of them here in India—out of the 39. So there is a huge opportunity for us to first bring our own brands into this country and to make sure that we build them. Does that mean that we're not looking for anything, which is very interesting and upcoming in India—the answer to that is yes we are. We continue to look for possible options. With the caveat that all these options can be scaled up internationally.

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