Aishwarya Ramesh

Lockdown forces DIY hair colour solutions upon paranoid salon patrons

As India attempts to 'unlock', people are still paranoid about visiting beauty salons. How have DIY hair colour solutions been faring in lockdown?

Over fears of the Coronavirus spreading, most salons in India have stayed shut. For many people, this means grey hair peeking out of their head. The only option left is to take matters into their own hands.

Even as the economy continues to 'unlock', people are still paranoid about visiting beauty salons. So, a DIY solution seems like a safer and more practical option at this point.

Personal care brands selling DIY hair colour (that can be applied at home) have been pushing their products. Recently, CavinKare released a commercial for its product Indica Easy hair colour. The ad stars Bollywood actor Akshay Kumar, and the emphasis is on ‘khud karo hair colour’ (colour your hair yourself), without any help.

Venkatesh Vijayaraghavan, Director and CEO – Personal Care & Alliance from CavinKare, says that consumer behaviour, especially in the grooming category, is seeing drastic changes as a result of the lockdown. He says that in many parts of the country, people can’t step out of their houses – and this has changed their skincare and grooming habits.

He calls personal care a 'mature' category, which previously used to see huge consumption volumes – and acknowledges that it is going through a period of stress right now. “We’re seeing a large shift towards the ‘do it yourself’ attitude. People are willing to experiment with new things, they’re referring to YouTube, and other sites. There’s a different level of knowledge sharing that’s happening across platforms right now,” he says.

Vijayaraghavan says that it is during these trying times that digital has emerged as an effective medium of communication – though the need to talk to consumers via different mediums is not new.

Venkatesh Vijayaraghavan
Venkatesh Vijayaraghavan

“It also creates a platform where you can communicate both about the products and the ideas. We are seeing a marked shift in the way we approach digital, and in the way we’d approach social media. Mass media has its own value, and we do not see it coming down as of now. But, we’re increasing our investment in digital as this platform is emerging as an opportunity for communication right now,” he says.

Vijayaraghavan informs us that the hair wash and hair care category continues to remain robust, and that it has not gone through a significant change. He admits that there’s a little bit of downtrading that’s happening, given the volatility of the economy right now and the lockdown, but the consumption patterns largely remain the same.

“Consumers are also trying different options when it comes to products, and we're seeing companies use different methods to reach out to consumers. Traditional products are going through stress, yes, but there are new avenues coming up through which we can drive our products, especially since awareness about some of these products is increasing now,” he says.

Vijayaraghavan elucidates that previously, people used to depend on salons for hair colouring, and now they’re experimenting with DIY solutions. Although, the level of grooming done at home is nowhere close to the amount of grooming a person used to do while they were able to step out and trust salons.

“DIY, as a platform, is emerging very strongly when it comes to hair colour. Virtual meetings are a strong push that encourage people to continue grooming themselves, even while working from home,” he says.

Due to the fact that people aren’t stepping out of their homes, or socialising like they used to, other grooming products (for example, body hair removal creams) are seeing a bit of stress, and some level of slowdown right now, he mentions. To that extent, there is a slowdown.

“Visible interactions are making people self-aware, but there’s not enough grooming happening to help businesses make up for lost opportunities. Although, digital interactions have increased, and we’re seeing alternate consumer patterns emerging for sure,” he adds.

Internationally, we saw L’Oreal Paris advertise for its Excellence Crème Rich hair colour. The ad featured Hollywood actress and L’Oreal Paris brand ambassador Eva Longoria, and played out like a ‘DIY’ video on how to colour hair from home. The tone, the way the video was shot, and the instructions she gives are very reminiscent of the work of an influencer/content creator.

Closer home in India, we saw Bollywood director Karan Johar posting an image on Instagram with visibly grey roots, joking that he was now available to play fatherly roles in movies. The activity was a coordinated social media campaign in which Johar admits that he’d never tried hair colouring at home. Godrej Expert Rich Crème hair colour, or ‘Anushka wala colour’ (as Johar jokingly calls it), swoops in to save the day.

Godrej Expert Rich Crème also associated with Bollywood actress Neha Dhupia for a similar video campaign. Conceptualized by Creativeland Asia and produced by Creativeland Pictures, Neha’s video begins with her speaking about how she has tried several new things during the lockdown. She decided to colour her hair and that’s when her stylist suggested to use Godrej Expert Rich Crème.

Sunil Kataria, CEO, India & SAARC, Godrej Consumer Products Limited, acknowledges that the business landscape is struggling with an unusual scenario right now. This has prompted most brands to reinvent their marketing and consumer outreach activities.

“Today, in the 'new normal', consumers want to see how brands can help cope with pandemic-related life challenges. We want our communication to be natural and honest enough to make people believe that we are offering them a solution. The shift comes in when people look out for easy and hassle-free solutions, which they themselves can undertake during the lockdown,” he says.

Sunil Kataria
Sunil Kataria

Kataria adds that even after 'Unlock 1.0', major cities are still under restrictions, and people may take some time to get accustomed to the shift in the beauty salon space. He references the likes of Housejoy and Urban Company, and mentions that as of now, most at-home salon services are subject to stylist availabilities and areas of operations.

He emphasises that the product range has always been centred on providing hassle-free hair colouring options, which include shampoo and gel-based colour formats.

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