Deepika Padukone-led 82°E is attempting to rewrite D2C rules
The top actor stature and the pandemic-led online shopping boom, led Deepika Padukone and Jigar Shah to enter the personal care space. It is now eyeing expanding its line offline besides its current direct-to-consumer (D2C) strategies.
India has always had a tryst with celebrity endorsed products. From Lux being all the rage in the 90s, till recently around 2015 when celebrity-led brands began to emerge on the scene.
In India alone there are just over 800 D2C brands vying for attention, creating the opportunity for a market that is worth just over 100 billion by 2025. Jigar Shah, a seasoned investor, knew of its potential.
Having bet on brands like, an edtech platform, luggage player , and , a digital pet care platform, he knew what it would take to channel Deepika Padukone’s popularity as an actress into a brand back in 2020.
“Every brand reached out to us because they understand her value. That’s when we also realised and started exploring the celebrity-led brand opportunity,” he adds. The two dabbled between a number of ideas from investing in a brand to partnering with a marketplace to launch one—eventually they settled on taking the entrepreneurial plunge.
“When Jigar and I joined forces, our aim was to create a brand that is an extension of my personal and professional journey,” says Deepika Padukone, co-founder,.
The skincare market—by many measures—is a crowded one. During the pandemic, many copycat brands selling similar products had appeared, with one being unable to decide on a product to buy as there were so many options available.
This is also where Padukone and Shah found an opportunity. “There are so many products out there. But if I ask you what it is that you use as your daily skincare routine, you would not know,” says Shah.
Through 82°E—a name inspired by the longitudes of India—the two formulated a series of products, inspired by a routine Padukone’s had held for years. “The products and the narrative of our brand is completely based on how she is and what she thinks,” says Shah.
“I work extensively on all the creative aspects of the brand including ideation, formulations with the R&D team and packaging,” says Padukone. Meanwhile Shah looks at everything related to the business—fundraising, operations and human resources.
The drop strategy
82°E kicked off in November last year with two products Patchouli Glow, an oil-like liquid sunscreen, and Ashwagandha Bounce, a hydration cream. Since then, it continues to sell its products through its website and uses a product drop strategy to sell and market its line.
Product drops is a strategy through which a brand regularly makes and sells products in a limited quantity. In the past, a few big retail companies like Supreme, Nike and Adidas have used this to drive sales to their brand by releasing some products in a monthly, quarterly or once-a-year drop.
In 82°E’s case, while there isn’t a pre-decided frequency, plans include releasing a new product almost every month. According to Shah, this is an effective way to get feedback on the product. “We can work the suggestions in, if possible, in our upcoming products and growth strategy,” says Shah.
The Padukone-led brand had encountered some bumps along the way. Several people took to the internet to voice their concerns about the line—particularly with Patchouli Glow for its oily consistency.
“We were aware that a sunscreen in an oil format would require a reasonable amount of education and trial,” admits Shah. “Over the last few months, consumers have gained a deeper understanding of the product and its benefits which has increased their conviction in the product,” he says. However, despite the negative feedback the Patchouli Glow has gone on to become one the brand’s fastest selling products, according to Shah.
There is also a concern about the brand’s price point. Many of them range between Rs 1,200 and Rs 2,700, placing it within the premium price bracket. “If we sell something for 500 rupees and say Deepika is also using it, I think people will find it a bit hard to believe,” says Shah.
82°E is also dabbling into bringing other celebrities in the marketing mix. It recently made a promotional video which showcased Shahrukh Khan and Deepika Padukone in a video together to launch its latest product the Gotu Kola Dew toner.
“In the video with Shah Rukh...our objective was to produce an informative yet enjoyable piece of content that highlights the core principles of our skincare routine,” says Padukone.
The brand has been active in India and abroad—selling across 35-40 countries in Europe, North America, and West Asia.
It also relies on Instagram to drive sales and has a specific strategy while picking influencers. “While influencer marketing is important for us, we have been conscious in choosing the creators,” says Shah. “We wanted influencers who can bring nuances, distinction and educate their audience when they talk about products,” he adds.
While 82°E says it will continue using drops, it has begun to contemplate taking its products offline—either in a shop-in-shop model that is having a counter within an established store or having a standalone brick-and-mortar outlet.
“We will be adding more products within the C-H-P Routine to serve our consumers' needs. We also plan to expand into other categories that we believe would further support a holistic approach to self-care,” says Deepika.
Edited by Akanksha Sarma