How Mascot Spincontrol is helping Indian skincare brands live up to their promises

Mumbai-based Mascot Spincontrol, help Indian personal care brands provide clinically proven and certified products to their consumers.
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Right from introducing the world to the benefits of Ayurveda to launching sustainable and clean products, the Indian skincare and cosmetics industry has come a long way in helping people find suitable regimens and products for healthy skin.

Led by factors like changing lifestyles, growing awareness, and rising disposable incomes, the industry has been evolving continuously. According to Statista, the Indian cosmetics industry was valued at about $20 billion in 2020, with bath and shower products being among the most demanded products.

Given the potential of the sector, there are multiple brands in India that are competing for consumers' attention. At the same time, they offer little information about how safe their products really are. And, that's where Mumbai-based Mascot Spincontrol is driving impact. Mascot Spincontrol is a joint venture between Spincontrol France and Mascot Universal.

"I launched the company with the vision to help Indian personal care brands provide clinically proven and certified products to their consumers. We help personal care brands deliver on their promises and claims by clinically testing their products and certifying their products," says Mohit Lalvani, MD at Mascot Spincontrol India.

Talking about what led the team to launch a company like Mascot Spincontrol, Mohit says, "Back in the 2000s, I noticed that there were hardly 10-12 Indian brands in the skincare segment and consumers tended to trust imported products more. As I researched, it turned out that most Indian brands didn't suit the Indian skin because they weren't being tested for efficacy or if they actually did what they claim."

The observation led Mohit to build a business model that could help Indian skincare brands test the effectiveness of their products and create better quality solutions that were suitable for Indian skin and launch Mascot Spincontrol India in 2011. "Under our partnership with Spincontrol France, while Spincontrol France sets the protocols and parameters to be tested, Mascot manages in India as we have to test the products on Indian skin." The company’s COO, Varun Rawal, joined Mohit in 2019.

Incidentally, Mohit met Varun while the latter worked in the hospitality industry. Over the next few years, they kept in touch, even after Varun left for a job in the Middle East. "When I returned to India after a few years and was looking for an opportunity, Mohit offered me a business partnership," says Varun.

According to Mohit, he wanted to rope in Varun as he felt that he could help with the customer journey aspect of the business.

The changing face of skincare in India

The company broadly offers two kinds of tests: safety tests and efficacy tests. "Our safety tests assess if a particular product is safe to use and if it causes any irritation or side effects. Our efficacy tests show if a particular product is effective and delivers on what it promises," says Varun.

Talking about the company's growth journey, the two say that one of the biggest challenges that they faced after launching Mascot Spincontrol International was to convince skincare brands that they needed to test their products. “I burnt a lot of cash in convincing clients as most of them thought that testing products would be a waste of money. Also, Indian skincare brands didn't give much thought to inclusivity and personalisation," says Mohit.

They got a breakthrough after a long wait of over five years during which several startups and D2C brands started exploring opportunities in the skincare and cosmetics industry. “The rise of such homegrown brands made it easier for us to pitch our solution. Also, changes in consumer behaviour led companies to rethink their product strategy. For instance, in the early 2000s, no one was doing much research about what they were using for their hair or skin. As consumers became more conscious, so did the brands. Consumers are asking more questions about what’s going into a product, which in turn is making brands more accountable,” explains Varun.

As the industry’s perception about clinical testing changed, so did Mascot Spincontrol’s clientele. “Apart from personal and skincare brands, we also have several venture capitalists as our clients. They come to us with products that they are interested in investing in and get them assessed for their effectiveness and safety,” he adds.

Surging ahead with a tech push

A factor that has helped Mascot Spincontrol capture a bigger share of the clinical testing market in India was its decision to opt for a .in domain name for its official website. “Getting a .in domain name has helped us get consumers’ trust and helped us widen our reach. Even for international clients, the domain name makes it easier for them to locate us online,” says Varun.

The two believe that the domain name has especially helped them gain traction over the past three years as the scope of clinical testing broadened. In addition, it has helped them create the right kind of buzz for the company and the team is seeing more inquiries pour in from various social media platforms and also from other countries.

The National Internet Exchange of India (NIXI) has helped hundreds of businesses like Mascot Spincontrol India distinguish themselves as a brand with its .in or .Bharat domain — which is India’s Country Code Top Level Domain (ccTLD). It’s among the few internet exchanges in the world to offer a ccTLD in multiple languages.

“Over the next few years, Mascot Spincontrol India plans to create its own line of unbranded skincare products that are backed by clinical trials. And, a brand owner can launch it as it is under their name,” says Mohit.

The ‘Shaping India Inc's Online Growth’ series chronicles the journeys of startups and SMEs in India and how creating an online presence on the .in or .Bharat domain powered their success stories.


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