A French luxury beauty brand, Lancôme, that had a short stint in India a few years ago is all set to embrace the market again with bigger plans of making luxury beauty accessible to Indian consumers. The brand is on a mission to bring in the happy quotient for the beauty buyers and is betting big on the Indian luxury beauty space. Lancôme is known for its high-end perfumes, potent skin-care staples, and iconic makeup products.
ELLE got an exclusive sneak-peek into the brand’s plans for India through a conversation with Yosser Zmitri, General Manager – Luxe, L’Oréal SAPMENA (South Asia Pacific, Middle East and Africa).
ELLE: Tell us about the relaunch of the brand in the Indian market and what new to expect from it?
Yosser: I come with a different perspective where, for me, it’s a ‘launch’ of Lancôme in India. Lancôme is one of the leading luxury brands worldwide with a legacy of 85 years. However, the brand is modern in its approach at the same time – a classic brand with modern values and ambassadors, and innovations in terms of products. With over eight decades of rich history, the brand has been reinvented over the last decade.
On the other hand, even the Indian beauty space with regards to luxury beauty consumption has changed. The consumers are now aware of what’s happening in the space. Interestingly, we also learned through our market research that consumers share a long-term association with Lancôme; they buy products when they travel abroad and have been loyal to the brand. The appetite for luxury beauty is getting bigger in India with a number of new players entering the market. Therefore, it only makes sense for a brand like Lancôme to be in a market like India. What you see now is only the beginning because the brand is here with promising plans. Another important point to note is that the distribution for luxury products is not limited anymore with several different platforms acting as a catalyst for the same.
ELLE: With this, will the brand be focusing on all three categories – makeup, skincare, and fragrance?
Yosser: Our market research shows that there’s no one category that holds a bigger share as compared to another. While makeup continues to be a hot-selling space, post-COVID pattern shows a rise in the purchase of luxury skincare. As far as the fragrance category is concerned, people are ready to invest in a luxury scent at least once a year. I believe India is a balanced market and is ready for all three categories.
We have, at least, one strong pillar in every category. If I take skincare, the brand’s cult-offering is Genefique which is in the premium category and an absolute buy. For fragrance, it’s La Vie Est Belle that’s endorsed by Julia Roberts and will be available in India. For makeup, it’s Tient Idole Ultra Wear foundation that’s endorsed by Zendaya.
ELLE: Are all product offerings, from skincare to makeup, suitable for Indian skin tone?
Yosser: Product innovation is a huge part of L’Oréal Group and brands under it. Lancôme’s innovative skincare ranges are therefore, perfectly suitable for the Indian skin tone and needs. For makeup, we have learned that there’s a huge demand for foundation. Our foundation is available in 50 shades – a range that covers almost all skin tones worldwide. We’re trying our best to get the most suitable shades to India.
I’d also like to mention that with our last stint here we made a few mistakes at the beginning regarding the shade selection that we had for the South Asian market. We are adjusting it to make sure that we have the right ones this time. We have a shade finder – a beauty tech – that helps us scan the skin tone to find the perfect match for it. We cannot bring the entire range of 50 shades but we are learning more to get the right ones.
ELLE: With big players and established players in the Indian market, how does Lancôme plan to push its niche?
Yosser: There’s space for everyone, even for many more brands than what you see today. Just to give some numbers here, the selective or the luxury beauty market that we see today is only 1% of what can actually be accommodated. So, there’s still 99% to go! In fact, I believe the more we get, the better it is because it fuels the desirability and nourishes consumers’ appetite for luxury products. Also, with more retail partners, brands now have better visibility, exposure, and access to consumers.
ELLE: Where and how can we shop for Lancôme?
Yosser: We have worked on a 360-degree plan and are going with all channels. You’ll see a strong in-store activation. We launch exclusively with Sephora but we’ll not be staying only with one in-store retailer; we will expand with Lancôme flagship boutique stores as well to provide a true customer experience. It will be an important touchpoint because this is where consumers will get to experience the products.
However, we are currently in the phase of building an image in the Indian market and this is where, of course, social media and media are going to play a pivotal role. Through this, we want to bring forth the international image of the brand. We will be working with local talent to stay relevant to the consumer here.