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SUGAR Cosmetics' Vineeta Singh on the makeup industry, trends, and social media marketing

On Day 1 of Goafest 2022, CEO Vineeta Singh had some pointers to share in a keynote session.

Goafest is back after a 2 year hiatus and has successfully kicked off. One of the keynote speakers on day 1 of the fest was Sugar Cosmetics’ CEO Vineeta Singh. Singh is the co-founder and CEO of Sugar Cosmetics. She recently featured on the entrepreneurial reality TV show Shark Tank as one of the investors or one of the ‘Sharks’ on the show.

Singh took the stage to give the audience an idea of how the pandemic had impacted her business and to give them a better idea of the brand she’s trying to build. Sugar Cosmetics was launched in 2015 and the brand has been growing steadily in India ever since. According to a report by Entrackr, the company announced an increase in operating revenue - from Rs. 103 crore in FY20 to Rs. 126 crore in FY21.

“Almost 60% of our revenue comes from sales in our 30,000 offline stores,” she paused. “However, 90% of our customers still continue to discover us online. We were a digital first brand at a time when there weren’t that many women shoppers online in the first place. Less than 15% of all shoppers online were women shoppers. These days, around 43% of shoppers online are women,” she explains.

Singh adds that the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic were devastating, but it led to consumers leading a digital-first life - which has been good for Sugar’s business. She says that initially, there was skepticism around what Sugar could do - if a company that had only raised around 5 or 6 crore rupees in funding could disrupt a beauty market in which companies like L’Oreal Paris and Unilever’s Lakmé already existed.

“The interesting thing about the COVID pandemic is that it gave us a level playing field when it came to the beauty industry. When we distributed our products via e-commerce, it gave us access to 1000s of pin codes across the country,” she says. Singh also mentions that during the pandemic, the company ramped up focus on content creation - which is ideated, scripted, and executed in house. She says that the content last year garnered roughly ‘billions’ of views.

Singh says that back in 2015, brands operated very differently, with less than 2-3% of their businesses being online. This resulted in a lot of businesses not speaking to young women, which has changed in recent times.

She adds that there are a lot of companies that reproduce identical copies of the same product and that this leads to a lack of brand and product differentiation.

When it comes to influencer marketing, SUGAR Cosmetics mainly works with a barter system. The company hires influencers to create content which is then promoted in-house, and both parties garner visibility in the process.

According to Singh, makeup is still aspirational in nature and to prompt a customer to buy makeup, educating them on how to use it is important - that's where the company's content play comes into the picture.

She adds that feedback plays an important part when it comes to the pricing of the products. "We want customers to feel like they're getting more than what they pay for and if we get feedback that prices are high, we will revise them accordingly," she says.

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