The young and dynamic director at Paul Penders (PP) and Planet Herbs Lifesciences (PHL), Ms. Sargam Dhawan leads the India operations of both the organisations. While Paul Penders has been synonymous with natural cosmetics, PHL is a modern research-based manufacturing organisation devoted to the d
evelopment of natural nutraceutical and herbal products. PHL has its manufacturing facility in Dehradun. Ms. Sargam, with her several years of industry experience and hands-on professional knowledge endeavours to bring top quality natural products to the Indian consumer. In this interview with Cosmedic India, Ms. Sargam provides insights into her India operations and her ambitious expansion plans for her businesses. Excerpts of the interview:
Are there ay synergies between the two brands, Paul Penders (PP) as well as Planet Herbs Lifesciences (PHL)?
Planet Herbs Lifesciences Pvt Ltd. is the parent company of Paul Penders Botanicals India. Truly, there are a variety of approaches in which a brand can be structured and most of the companies that sell fast moving consumer goods have a blend of different strategies and structures. Both the brands cater to the same base audience. Their consumer is the one who is conscious about the environment and is seeking to find products that are derived from natural sources and are sustainable. When we move up in the hierarchy, these consumers, then get divided based on the desired product type.
What are the product introduction plans for PP and PHL for 2019?
One of the areas that we plan to focus on for 2019 for both the brands involves increasing channel penetration. Taking advantage of the increasing disposable income across India and rising awareness about natural ingredients based products, this will be the right time to position our brands across multi-level channels as an all-natural in case of Planet Herbs, and as vegan and cruelty free in case of Paul Penders Botanicals.
Please brief us a little about your manufacturing set up and discuss your plans going forward.
We have our manufacturing plant in Selaqui, Dehradun. It covers nearly 50,000 sq. ft area. Recently, we added cosmetics into our manufacturing and are in the expansion mode for the same. Our current annual manufacturing capacity is as below:
- Capsules: 6 crore
- Tablets: 15 crore
- Ointment: 500 tonnes
- Oil: 30,000 Litres
- Liquid Syrup: 50,000 Litres
- Powder: 60 lakh (sachets)
What do you see as the mid-term business outlook of the Indian cosmetics and cosmeceuticals market? How optimistic / pessimistic are you about the year 2019 and 2020?
The Indian cosmetics and cosmeceuticals market shall see a substantial growth in the coming years. Due to the increasing demand of branded beauty products, the Indian market has expanded by bringing in foreign brands for the investment. This demand is due to the effect in increasing awareness about cosmetics and enhancing fashion consciousness through the widespread reach of social media and encouraging demographics. This change is not only limited to the metro cities but also tier 1 and tier 2 cities. This can be seen as a massive opportunity for brands to expand and extract revenues from all across India.
Considering the high growth in these industry, do you see any mergers or acquisitions happening in this industry in India?
Given the tremendous growth that the beauty and cosmetics industry is witnessing, mergers and acquisitions could very well be a part of the coming year. New and independent brands are the ones who are coming up with creative ideas and techniques. Hence, many big players are seeking to take advantage of this surge in creativity by the way of acquisition of these younger brands. Change in beauty habits is actually making consumers more aware about the right usage of products, hence opening greater avenues for mergers and acquisitions.
What do you see as your key business challenges today?
Some of the challenges of running a business in India include-
- Corruption & bureaucracy – This leads to lags in various business activities and processes in a way that the administration is more likely to create the market and institutional norms.
- Government & Regulation- The taxation policy leads to increase in taxes since it is directly based on the amount of money earned by businesses. This eventually changes the way in which a business operates.
- Uncertain Policy Environment- There is a huge risk of the uncertain regulatory environment in the Indian market. It is difficult to adhere to long- term goals which results in an imbalance in the informed, pre-planned strategies and instead short- term goals are favored more.
What is your product distribution model and structure?
Our products are distributed through both offline and online channels. In case of brick-and-mortar retail, we do not have our own stand-alone stores, but we sell our products by partnering with various retail outlets and channel partners. For retail sales, we have also partnered with individual distributors across various states who in turn distribute our products to local retailers and stores. In the coming years, we plan to centralize our distribution system, in order to take advantage of standardisation, better control and reduced costs. In terms of online presence, we operate directly through our own website in addition to the various online e-commerce portals. We also target the salon channel actively for Paul Penders Botanicals. The distribution of our products to various salons across the country is done by our appointed distributors of the respective states.
What are the innovations happening in the industry today?
Nowadays, personalization and customization is the way to go. This is done by actively gathering customer data, feedback and experience. Due to the increase in demand for customization in various products, consumers are no longer obliged to buy on-the-shelf products which helps to increase customer satisfaction, providing the customer with a better experience. Due to such innovations, there is an advancement in the retail as well. We too are moving towards incorporating these trends into our strategy in the coming years.
What is your go-to-market promotion strategy?
Go-to-market promotions have been part of our ongoing effort. Our initiatives and programmes in this area involve endorsements, celebrity gifting and honest reviews, to name a few. We actively participate in a variety of industry events which allows people to interact with our brands. We also run seasonal promotions like festive discounting and offers on the limited edition items for a particular festival.