Ananya Pathak

"We target the ethically engaged consumer": Antara Kundu, The Body Shop

It was in the summer of 2006 that the then three decade old British cosmetic, skin care and perfume brand, The Body Shop, entered the Indian market. And after 13 years the Natura & Co owned cosmetics brand has made its television commercial debut. The TVC, conceptualised by Publicis, starring Bollywood actress, Shraddha Kapoor as the new face of the brand in India.

Antara Kundu, marketing head, The Body Shop Asia – South, agrees that we live in an era where digital communication has made jobs of marketeers considerably more efficient. However, when asked why the brand chose to go for a television commercial when it has stuck to digital promotions and print advertising for over four decades, she says, “While digitisation has maximised targeted brand visibility, in a diverse country such as India with widely varying consumer attitudes, the influence of TV cannot be undermined. The fact of the matter remains that TV is still the top means of gaining wide reach as well as establishing a certain amount of brand credibility to new audiences. A TV campaign helps in building brand imagery in a far more credible way and for a much longer time than a sponsored post or a search result.”

Antara Kundu, marketing head, The Body Shop Asia – South.
Antara Kundu, marketing head, The Body Shop Asia – South.

Does the brand think that this is the right time for a TVC? “We still believe there are many new consumer segments in the country who are yet to be exposed to our brand. The Body Shop has never been an everyday beauty brand. We’re comfortable with deviating from the digital-only beauty marketing trend to bring our unique voice to untapped Indian consumers through our first TVC. We felt that the time for The Body Shop to push the envelope in terms of consumer awareness had well and truly arrived,” she says.

The 30-second commercial was unveiled at an event where Kapoor was announced as the brand ambassador. The brand also launched an 'announcement video'.

Until the release of this film, the UK-headquartered company focussed more on makeup tutorials with Jacqueline Fernandez as its face. When quizzed about this, Kundu states that with Shraddha and her real-girl approach, as well as her advocacy of environmental sustainability, it felt like the right time to make the push towards a wider reach medium such as TV.

Talking about the target audience, Kundu tells us that the core TG of the brand has always been the smart, ethically engaged consumer. “Our next stage of growth lies not just in the metros and top cities, but in the relatively smaller towns and cities of India as well.”

We asked her about the importance of e-commerce for the brand. “E-commerce helps us reach the length and breadth of the country including locations where we may not be physically present,” she explains.

Further, talking about the challenges faced by the brand in the Indian market, Kundu shares that the beauty industry in India is in its most progressive growth phase ever, fuelled by the rise of the millennial consumer as well as the advent of e-commerce, there has never been a better time to be a player in this industry. “As a beauty retailer in India, our challenge is on the next stage of growth not just as a business but also as a brand. Our consumer following is built on more than our products. Bringing more and more consumers into our fold is therefore critical to our growth as a business and our purpose as a brand fighting for a better world,” she says.

Lakme, Lotus, L'Oreal, Maybelline, Himalaya and Revlon are some of the many cosmetic brands in India. Speaking about competition in the market, Kundu, without commenting on any other brands within the category, says, "We believe that our activism compass and our single-minded commitment to giving our consumers the very best of ethical, nature inspired beauty will keep us well-ahead and well-differentiated from our competitors."

The ad film will be telecast on both SD and HD channels across the country.

We reached out to a few industry experts to get their opinion on the first-ever TVC by the 43-year-old brand.

Anusheela Saha, group creative director, FCB Ulka, finds the ad a bit underwhelming. She says, “I understand they wanted to make a tactical ad without any frills and get to the point. But, perhaps, they could have woven a better story.” She however feels that using Shraddha Kapoor was a good idea since getting celebrities always helps lift the brand and make it aspirational.

Anusheela Saha, group creative director, FCB Ulka.
Anusheela Saha, group creative director, FCB Ulka.

Commenting on what the brand could have done better, she adds, “I generally believe a good story can do wonders for the brand. Skincare brands these days often give their brand a human touch. To show they are more than just a product — they care about you. And that’s what was missing with this ad. It didn’t seem personal, rather clinical in it’s approach. Dove has raised the standards in the category, and I think for the future The Body Shop needs to take a human approach to their brand as a whole.”

When we spoke to her about the brand's 'animal-friendly' proposition, she went on to mention that given the fact that consumers are now very conscious of what’s going on their skin, I think it’s a good idea to include the brand being ‘animal friendly’ in their communication. “The TG of The Body Shop is educated and understands the importance of cruelty-free products. It’s insightful of the brand to think of their consumers' need and implement it in the TVC,” she feels.

Yash Bendkhale, creative director, What's Your Problem.
Yash Bendkhale, creative director, What's Your Problem.

Yash Bendkhale, creative director, What's Your Problem, thinks the ad is simple and delivers a clear message. However, he says, “If it is a first TVC, I would have liked to know a little more about the brand first, before introducing the product. In most instances, consumers choose a brand before choosing the product. If I was being introduced to a brand that nurtures beauty, and is responsible too, I would want to know more about the brand first.”

He adds, “For a person like me, I love brands that are environmentally conscious and have conscientious processes. The ‘animal-friendly’ or zero cruelty conversation would work for me if it felt like a brand story of being responsible. But here, it seems more like a product/collection story.”

Bendkhale also feels that the brand should take fresher routes in the future.

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