Namah Chawla

“Social commerce helps in creating buying intent and consumer trust”: Shivani Behl, Plum

The D2C brand’s CMO talks about the efforts to bridge the gap between skincare and makeup products.

Direct-to-consumer (D2C) brand Plum’s latest addition to its bath and body range, grabs one’s attention. While many beauty brands offer coffee and chocolate-fragranced skincare products, Plum has introduced Caramel Popcorn flavour for its hand creams, body washes and candles.

As per CMO Shivani Behl, Plum plans to introduce more such new fragrances to reach out to its target market of Gen Z and millennials. And, instead of taking the traditional route of promoting through beauty and lifestyle influencers, the brand decided to get chef influencers on board for its Caramel Popcorn range.

In an interview with afaqs!, Behl talks about Plum’s new product offering, its influencer marketing strategy, impact of social commerce on D2C brands, and more.

Edited excerpts:

What made Plum diversify into the colour makeup category? What does the brand’s research suggest?

Plum’s NaturStudio kajal that was launched in 2018, is one of our iconic products. The only natural extension for this was to go ahead and populate the category with more products. The brand’s proposition is about skin-loving makeup that is high-performance and, at the same time, the formulation is non-toxic and made with clean ingredients.

These products are formulated with ingredients like Vitamin D, hyaluronic acid, avocado oil, etc. This bridges the gap between skincare and makeup products. They are 100 per cent vegan and cruelty-free. This is how we differentiate our game in the colour cosmetics business, from others in the market.

Plum recently introduced ‘Caramel Popcorn’ body care products. What was the thought behind this launch?

Plum aims to come up with products that are way ahead of the curve, whether it is an alcohol-free toner or a cleansing balm. One such recent launch is the Caramel Popcorn range, which is a part of the bath and body products. The range aims to appeal to the millennials and Gen Z.

As Caramel Popcorn is a food item, Plum thought of an interesting way to reach out to our customers, instead of just going through the typical lifestyle and beauty influencers way. This was a category where we could do something different. Hence, marrying food, bath and body range was brought to life through collaborations with chefs.

How is social commerce expected to change e-commerce? What impact will it have on D2C brands like Plum?

Millennial and Gen Z customers, especially in Tier-II and III cities, are spending more time on social media than ever before. Short video apps have gained a lot of popularity. These reasons, coupled with an overall uptake in e-commerce due to the COVID pandemic and the rise of influencers, have paved the way for this trend.

Being able to take the customer through a virtual session, talking about the features of a product, makes it an engaging process, from a consumer perspective. This, in turn, creates buying intent and consumer trust.

How are Plum’s marketing spends divided across online and offline channels?

Plum is targeting new-age digital consumers. The brand’s focus is to maximise reach on social media platforms. Seventy per cent of our media spends go towards digital channels. These include YouTube, Instagram and Facebook. We are also strengthening our OTT advertising game.

With our offline expansion and the ambition to grow aggressively in Tier-II and III towns, Plum is also looking at evaluating mass mediums like TV and outdoor in the near future. But currently, Plum is heavily inclined towards digital.

How important is influencer marketing for Plum?

The nano and the micro-influencers, specifically in the beauty domain, have a cult following. They also add a layer of authenticity and credibility to the brand. That’s the approach we have when we select our influencers.

We also work with vernacular influencers. Plum has launched an affiliate program called the ‘Plum list’ that has about 1,200 influencers, who create content for the brand. This forms an additional sales channel and, hence, we’re able to measure the returns on investment, as far as influencers go.

How much of Plum’s sales can be attributed to offline stores versus online channels. Within online, what (percentage of) sales come from the brand's own website versus other e-commerce marketplaces?

Plum has a presence across 250 towns through 10,000 unassisted and 1,000 assisted outlets. Assisted outlets are supported by beauty advisors. Plum is available across all major marketplaces like Nykaa, Flipkart, Amazon, and the newer ones as well like Foxy and Trell.

The online business contributes about 60 per cent, and a quarter of that is from our own platform. The rest is from other marketplaces. Forty per cent of the business comes from offline channels. Globally, the brand has seen good traction in countries like the US, Kenya, Mauritius, the Philippines and Nepal. We aim to get at least 10 per cent of our revenues from international locations, this fiscal year.

Have news to share? Write to us