Mumbai-based Auravedic built a beauty company specialising in natural oils; clocks Rs 10 Cr turnover
While on a backpacking trip to Europe in the early 2000s, Philip Alexander observed that many local beauty and skincare brands in the European countries were able to strive and make a difference in the lives of consumers despite facing tough competitions from global brands like Johnson & Johnson, Loreal, and more.
This intrigued Philip, who leveraged the teachings of Ayurveda, to make natural oils for face and body, and eventually started Auravedic in 2013 with his wife Amrita Alexander. The Mumbai-based skincare brand’s kumkumadi face oil is a widely sold out product. With a digital footprint across India, Auravedic clocked Rs 10 crore in revenue last year.
Philip and Amrita ventured into the natural oils venture when the market was just picking up. Companies like Kama Ayurveda and Forest Essentials were some known brands who were dominating the market then.
The main difference between essential oils and natural oils, Philip says, is that the former is derived from plants, whereas the latter is a mixture of several herbs, plants, and extractions.
To build initial traction for the business, the duo started by selling face masks and face serums, which they say is not the company’s speciality. Additionally, the couple participated in over 70 exhibitions and expos to understand the market and receive one-on-one feedback from customers.
“These exhibitions helped us understand who our customers are and what they want,” Philip says, adding that these customer feedbacks and interactions helped the brand tweak its product base.
While many skincare brands have their own manufacturing units to ensure greater control over their product quality, Auravedic manufactures its products through two third-party units based in Kerala and Maharashtra. These units locally source the raw materials and manufacture the oils through the cold-pressed method.
Explaining how Auravedics maintains product consistency and quality, Philip says, “We have the same team from the beginning. Also, over the years, we have developed a certain process when it comes to manufacturing. If the process is being followed, then very few chances of committing a major error.”
In the past few years, natural and essential oils have replaced many facial and body creams.
According to Philip, one of the benefits of using oil is that it moisturises the skin better, while making the skin smoother, softer, and giving it a natural glow. Oils also help in keeping the skin hydrated.
Auravedic’s strength lies in the fact that it manufactures relevant oils for every part of the face. It offers six oils, two for hair and four for skin, including hair fall control oil, rosemary, onion, ginger, nalpamardi thailam oils, etc.
Amrita says that Auravedic’s products neither cause stickiness on the face nor spoil the clothes or bed sheets while putting it on. However, its efficacy remains the same.
Serving customers spoilt for choice
The changes in lifestyle, urbanisation, and the advent of the digital or ecommerce age has changed the way customers shopped earlier. In fact, it has given rise to a cut-throat market where several companies are vying to grab the customers’ attention.
According to Amrita, consumers today have become smart, and they don’t buy any product at the brand’s face value. Meanwhile, numerous options on the Internet have them spoilt for choice.
She says, “They are choosy, picky, and questioning. If you tell them that a product contains turmeric, they might go to the extent of asking what percentage of it is available in the product.”
She adds that serving such customers is quite challenging for any brand, as they have become quite sure of what they want and don’t want to spend their money.
Auravedic has managed to stay afloat amidst the competition by believing in the efficacy of its product, as well as pricing it appropriately on its website and other ecommerce sites. Auravedic products are priced between Rs 300 and Rs 400. It claims to sell 23,000 - 28,000 units each month and mainly sells through Amazon.
The transition from offline to online
The COVID-19 outbreak paved the way for many MSMEs to adopt digital means to do business, which is more viable and light on the company’s pocket.
Interestingly, before the pandemic, Auravedic started as a complete offline brand, relying heavily on retail sales. However, over the years, it transitioned to online selling, and now operates a direct-to-consumer (D2C) business model.
While the online marketplaces have helped the business to stay afloat and grow, customer engagement was more and easier in offline retail. Philip claims that it was easier to understand customers and their choices earlier in an offline shop.
The impact of COVID-19 on offline retail across the world has been catastrophic and massive, and the digital transition has come as a blessing in disguise for the brand.
Going forward, the bootstrapped company will raise funding, which will be focussed on scaling the company. Auravedic also plans to introduce more products in the naturals oils segment, such as facial tonic with rose and vetiver, face oil with rosehip and Vitamin E, and more.
“In this decade, authenticity is going to count a lot. Irrelevant products and stories won't matter,” Philip says, adding that he is confident about the natural oils market, which will gather more prominence in the future.
Edited by Suman Singh