The Skincare Disruptor: Mamaearth


The booming Indian cosmetic market is welcoming all different kinds of players with open arms. There are skin care brands that are trying to act like a niche for a specific gender, while others are still battling the case of who’s better placed to take care of the ‘Indian’ skin type. The beauty industry widens its acceptance of trends per the openness in society itself. If the narrative is ready to shun racist advertising and labelling, it will swing that way and adjust. Till it wasn’t called out, ‘fairness’ products were a normal category on the shelf. For new ideas that are more authentically designed, keeping in mind customer’s well-being to shore, an awakened sense of beauty has to preside. As per the millennial age term, the ‘wokeness’ of the crowd can only make the space for such a brand or gives an opportunity to explore one. This is where a brand like Mamaearth found its footing. 

The brand shone out of a problem that a couple first faced, then identified and went on to diagnose with a business solution. A brand originating out of personal experiences led to problem-solving often serve their purpose well and truly.

Founded by Varun Alagh and Ghazal Alagh, Mamaearth is a beauty and personal care brand. Back in 2016, the couple was expecting the good news to arrive their way. Like every other parent to be, they were trying to figure out the best of baby care products that they’ll be using. From what should be done to what can be avoided, they were scrounging the internet for all the tips and recommendations. This search opened up the Pandora’s box that no one in the skin care industry was caring to address. The couple could not find a single brand that had products meeting the necessary safety benchmarks. Almost all the search results were dangerous for young ones, especially new-borns and hence a no-no for parents. 

This however should be noted that unlike the Indian scenario, the west, notably US already had brands that catered to toxin-free natural products. Products that have all the ingredients with proper certifications. Though, with import cess and other taxes, every such product becomes automatically expensive to buy in India. Delay in supplies is another problem. This would have ultimately made the right kind of care for a child, a luxury. Same was identified by this couple and then they founded Honasa Consumer which is the parent company that runs Mamaearth. It did not happen overnight; the co-founders wanted the right kind of solution that would stand indubitable and be able to fairly represent their goal of toxin-free products. Before their launch, they researched day and night to identify what the parents of the millennial age think. Often quoted in various media portals, Varun and Alagh have admitted to talking to many parents to understand what kind of demands they have when it comes to products in childcare. They came to the conclusion that there is indeed a wide gap that has created a potential vacuum when it comes to supply of such toxin-free baby products.

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For new ideas that are more authentically designed, keeping in mind customer’s well-being to shore, an awakened sense of beauty has to preside. As per the millennial age term, the ‘wokeness’ of the crowd can only make the space for such a brand or gives an opportunity to explore one.

The Skincare Disruptor: Mamaearth

Gurugram based Mamaearth’s target market has evolved due to demographic factors and its baby care segment push has given it a hold on the niche. Despite fierce competition from the likes of giants like Himalaya, Johnson and Johnson, Mee Mee products and SebaMed, Mamaearth’s clear differentiation when it comes to propositions and their stiff hold on the brand image has kept them a rising star of the segment. 

As per a report from Agency Reporter in the period of 2014-2019, the baby care market generated revenue of approximately $31 billion. With the rising population and fertility rate of India, the baby care market becomes a direct benefactor of it. This paints a rosier than reality picture as far as Mamaearth is concerned. While the success seems guaranteed given the tide is in favour of baby care brands, the niche that Mamaearth focuses on is a tiny winner today. Why so? Out of the whole chunk of revenue gathered by the sector, only 2-3% was from cosmetics. The major portion is still controlled by toys and clothing. Now, when this is put against Mamaearth’s figures, new revelations are discovered. The brand has already raised $22 million in funding. It also became the first brand in 2019 to reach the 100-crore mark in India. The brand which had just 22 lakhs in revenue in 2017 has now marked a figure over 5 crores. That is a tremendous 25 times upgrade in revenue in a small span of 4 years. With such a small market size of baby care cosmetics under the baby care industry, how has Mamaearth shone the brightest in just a few years?

Explaining Mamaearth’s sensation, Draksha Raghuwanshi, beautician, who keenly follows skincare brands and development, talks to Dutch Uncles, “In order to understand the unprecedented growth of this start-up, one has to look at the factors that make a disruptor brand in cosmetics popular. The biggest factor here is clout. New in the market, new with the concept, a brand for millennials, Mamaearth had only one-way out- ingenuity. They were clever. They knew that the millennial space is the one that happens to be the most aware segment of their targeted audience. These people are actively searching on the internet just like Varun and Alagh were. They are ready to get influenced given the product is fair and square with its quality too. And that amalgamation of delivery along with publicity worked wonders for Mamaearth.” Today Mamaearth’s social media presence is immense. It is inarguably one of the most talked-about brands in the social media circle. 

On Instagram itself, they have 5,96,000 followers. Their every post garners around 1500 likes and 100 plus comments on an average. Mamaearth’s approach has consistently been one of a conscious brand as is reflected in their advertising campaigns. Draksha sheds some light on this, “You see their posts even after five today are centering around appeal to users for the protection of the environment. From the washroom panels of famous show Biggboss to YouTube sensation Gaurav Taneja of the Flying Beast channel expressing their contention regarding the products, Mamaearth is creating all the right buzz and in proper channels. Can you beat the retail setup, fixed targeted audience of Johnson and Johnson or the Himalayas of the world, any other way? No. Mamaearth has been about the difference in offering, product placement, packaging and overall feel of the brand. So, you’ll see them advertising in different lanes.”

One of the biggest benefactors in this success of this brand as per Draksha has been the word-of-mouth publicity it has earned, “You go to a market today and ask for baby products, just the name of Mamaearth rings a bell to the seller as a recommendation. I have seen friends suggesting to each other the products of Mamaearth. With a gradual shift in marketing tactics, they have to a normal extent established themselves as a brand of skincare that has organic, toxin free ingredients from just being just a baby care brand.”

A start-up which has accounted its success from its moves on the online sales has a transferable influence. If the brand’s name has started making noise, it can expand in a gradual phased manner. This is how Mamaearth too patiently took the step to expand their catalogue towards skincare and derma care products. Today, they are no more just a baby care brand. Today, they are a skincare brand that sells everything from an Anti-Hair-Fall skin kit to Wedding Glow kit. There is a diversity of categories. There is variety. Things look more like a skincare brand now than anything else. With the already accumulated brand awareness, they are embracing this penetration in a totally different sector of skincare keeping their core brand value the same. Albeit being held back initially due to their positioning of being a product series that mothers depend upon. Such an image doesn’t align well with a more gender oriented or unisexual approach of other skincare brands. Mamaearth quickly rectified it and today per the same report from Forbes, nearly half the customers are males. 

The Skincare Disruptor: Mamaearth

How did this happen for such a young brand? It was possible due to the lean innovation model, Mamaearth followed from its inception. Where, every step gets influenced by early customer feedback. This approach has given an edge to Mamaearth above other brands and has saved a lot of resources, something that start-ups are always in a crunch of. 

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Mamaearth had only one-way out- ingenuity. They were clever. They knew that the millennial space is the one that happens to be the most aware segment of their targeted audience.

Draksha Raghuwanshi, Industry Expert

Success for Chief Mom and Chief Dad, namely, Ghazal and Varun at Mamaearth has been a well-devised plot. In an attempt to solve a personal problem, they went on to identify and diagnose, a visible gap in the cosmetic industry. Their solution today is selling like hotcakes to around 2 million people. Mamaearth’s trajectory when seen keeping in mind the subsequent investments they have been able to raise, looks overall positive. Not just that, it testifies trust from both the sides, the market and the consumer base. With immense competition from players that are established in the market, some with legacy, some with capital-Mamaearth’s future is a story to keep an eye on. 

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Suresh Chouksey
Suresh Chouksey
Former Staff Dutch Uncles, Suresh writes on inspiring entrepreneurs and the success stories of start-ups. An alumnus of IIMC his stint included The Tribune and Dainik Bhaskar.

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