In the beauty segment, market development must be done: Shalini Raghavan

Former L’Oreal India and Hindustan Unilever executive Shalini Raghavan joined FSN E-Commerce Ventures Ltd, which runs Nykaa’s beauty and fashion platforms, just over a year ago. As a leading Internet brand, Nykaa has created digital content platforms such as the YouTube channel Nykaa TV with over 1.1 million subscribers and the peer-to-peer social community Nykaa Network. Raghavan spoke to Mint about Nykaa’s digital initiatives, India’s influencer ecosystem, and celebrity engagements. Edited excerpts:

Are you fueling consumer interest in Nykaa’s beauty category or developing it as a household brand?

I don’t think the two are separate from each other. We didn’t really build the brand just focusing on the visibility or awareness of Nykaa as a brand name. The reason we own the beauty category in the minds of consumers is because of how we did it. If you look at the categories we play in, they’re so under-penetrated that the opportunity is big overall. Because adoption of the category is nascent, education and market development is really the job to do.

We’ve really spent a lot of time becoming experts in this category, so it’s not just about wanting a piece of the pie. We basically said we were going to invest in growing this cake the right way. I think basically Nykaa – the brand – represents best in class beauty or a brand that brings me the best brands in the international world. All of this gives us a huge amount of mental space and ownership in the category.

Is there room to create more digital content assets?

Our real intention going forward is how to make the whole greater than the sum of its parts. How can we do a much more integrated job of, say, executing a campaign idea across all consumer touchpoints; how do we better integrate what we do, on and off the app?

We were doing a lot of static posts for Nykaa on Instagram. But, for example, last year on Instagram short-form videos or Reels, and the stories got a whole lot bigger. The market is changing, we are adapting and doing it very well. Within these content platforms, which are seeing format innovation and more content related to beauty and entertainment, where we’ve always done content, but we’ve done more in the last year.

Is the ecosystem of beauty influencers still in its infancy in India?

It depends on what we compare it to. Ten years ago we said that bloggers and consumers were ahead of marketers in the country. They were looking for videos online, but there was no native content. From then to now, it’s an unrecognizable market. The scale at which influencers exist and operate, there is enormous capacity and traction as well as credibility with consumers. But if you compare it with some of the western markets, we’re nowhere there.

We have a long way to go both in terms of the evolution of the consumer vis-à-vis their maturity with these categories, and the capacities of the influencers. Not everyone who can blog is perfect for a video; not everyone can trade live, for example.

How do you plan to bring this ecosystem to life?

At first, we did workshops with some of them. When we work with influencers, many of them are very clear about their own DNA. So we give them a set of products and creative license to express themselves. Or we do different sets of campaigns where we have a creative idea and we give them a broad brief. We also have an affiliate program where we onboard established influencers and run workshops to train young influencers on how they can film from home, use lighting, etc. We can do a lot more in this area, and it’s a big part of our plans. next year – train the next wave of influencers.

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