French multinational retail chain Sephora, paves its way finally in Gujarat with its first beauty-retail concept store launched in Ahmedabad at the premium location of Ahmedabad One Mall. Founded in France by Dominique Mandonnaud in 1970 and owned by LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, the world’s leading luxury goods group, Sephora India has tied up with Arvind Limited exclusively for its India operations – both store and e-commerce model since 2015. 

Ahmedabad indeed got a face-lift with the entry of global luxury beauty retailer. 

Sephora launched in Ahmedabad

For those who have been following social media surely know that beauty trends keep breaking the internet from time and again. With celebrity endorsements, beauty bloggers and vloggers recreating the celebrity looks and beauty brands creating their ‘How to slay the trend’ tutorial videos, the digital scape is rife with colours, textures and patterns. The no-make up look, sun-kissed look and highly sculpted looks are mere examples of how a trend can translate from celebrity to masses with just a click – be it to master the art of applying make-up or buying the apt products to achieve the look through online purchase. 

Sephora India has managed to capture the attention of the youth, a major consumer segment, with its interactive shopping environment, exclusive product launches in India and services from the experts over the counter. Huda Beauty, Anastasia Beverly Hills, Gucci, Percy & Reed, Aveda, Pixie, Caolion, Make Up For Ever, Benefit Cosmetics, Smashbox, Cover FX, Stila, Clinique , Burt’s Bees and Boscia are some of the exclusive launches done by Sephora India and are made available now in Ahmedabad with the launch of its exclusive retail outlet. The beauty chain offers a premium range of make-up, skin care, hair and body care along with perfumes for the beauty conscious Ahmedabadis. 

As the Ahmedabad’s socialites and glitterati flocked at the Private Shopping Party hosted by Jaina and Kulin Lalbhai, the atmosphere was on high octane with beauty experts guiding on the right products for different skin types to women stocking up their shopping bags with their favourite make-up and skin care products. A motley crew of city’s sought after make-up artists, beauty and fashion bloggers, stylists and taste-makers were present to pick their favourites before anyone else in the city. 

Vivek Bali, CEO Sephora India and HH Maharani Radhika Raje Gaekwad

“Sephora has always been my go-to for all skin and make up needs” shares Jaina Lalbhai, Founder – Style Audit by Jaina Lalbhai and a true blue fashionista. Citing the troubles of buying make-up, she comments “ Most of my Sephora visits have taken place abroad with super time crunch, an impatient kid and husband. So imagine my relief when you have something like this at your doorstep. I love experimenting with make-up products and having it in Ahmedabad means I can go at leisure and buy at my pace. My favourites Benefit Mascara, Make up Forever HD foundation and Anastasia Eye palette are now available here and I won’t need to stock up products which is a huge relief indeed.” 

Kulin Lalbhai, Executive Director Arvind Limited and Jaina Lalbhai, Founder Style Audit by Jaina Lalbhai

Meanwhile, in an exclusive interaction with Ciceroni, Vivek Bali, Chief Executive Officer, Sephora India and Kulin Lalbhai, Executive Director, Arvind Limited shared the beauty market insights. Below is the edited excerpt. 

  • Sephora has been in India since 2012. What finally triggered the entry in Gujarat market? 

Vivek Bali – We, at Sephora, are very particular about the location of the store. It is an uncompromising aspect for our business strategy. With my 20+ years of experience in Beauty sector and having worked internationally in Russia and Canada with brands like Lakme and Avon, I had the right pulse of the beauty market. Malls have been my choice of strategy to ensure that there are natural walk-ins happening. We launched Sephora in 2012 in Select City Walk in Delhi and then went on expanding in all metros first. We joined hands with Arvind Limited in 2015 and the expansion plan has been going on strong with a target to open 50 stores by end of 2020. 

Kulin Lalbhai – Location was the most important factor for Sephora and till the time we found one, it was not making sense to enter Gujarat. Ahmedabad One mall thus was the apt choice and finally we pinned on the right store within the premise. 

  • In India what has been the percentage divide for make-up, skin care, body care, hair care and perfumes? 

Vivek Bali – Globally, Sephora is the second most searched beauty brand. We have been changing the beauty regime of India. Earlier restricted to just cleansing, toning and moisturising routine, youth today have moved on to highlighters and bronzers. 

Sephora clocks in 55% of its business from make-up and 22% from skin care. Out of make-up’s share, 45% is from foundation, compact and concealer segment. Make-up category is the heart and soul of Sephora. With our exclusive launches with brands like Benefit Cosmetics, Anastasia Beverly Hills, Huda Beauty and Clara Beauty, youth keeps coming back for more. In the skin care segment, the one that are trending are the colourful skin care range like coconut, green-tea, avocado based products and good skin care range including products that are environment friendly and cruelty free. As for the fragrances which forms our third largest category at Sephora, one just needs to name the fragrance family and we have it. In hair care, we have done exclusive launches of Aveda, Percy and Reed and Oscar Blandi in India bringing in premium quality for the aspirational Indian. 

  • What is the demand for the men’s grooming range ?

Vivek Bali – Men have definitely become very conscious about their appearances. In fact at Sephora our sales are divided 50-50 between men’s and women’s category. Currently pegging on fragrances, hair care and bath and body care, men’s category is the next big buzz in the beauty industry.  

  • What is the consumer buying pattern when ordering online on Sephora ? Is it experimental or repeat buy ? 

Kulin Lalbhai – We have our exclusive online store called NNNow from where customers can make purchase from anywhere across the country. However due to the nature of pigment based products like make-up and inability to determine how would that product suit an individual skin tone and inability to smell the fragrances, people prefer repeat purchases online. The e-commerce model gives them the option to buy the known products from the comfort of their homes. We have future plans to incorporate AI at some stage to help consumers try on the lip shade and make up online and make choices. 

Vivek Bali – Online sales will always be a subset of total sales. People can’t buy foundations and lipsticks online without getting to check the shade. We encourage consumers to visit stores in their city to get an experience. We not only offer expert advices but give a quick mini makeover for an individual to make choice easy. Youth have been enamoured by the experiential services provided at Sephora as it gives them Instagram-worthy looks instantly with quick tutorials. 

  • How are non-metro cities responded to beauty market ? 

Vivek Bali – We have got an overwhelming response from Indore, Jaipur, Chandigarh, Pune, Hyderabad, Lucknow and Jaipur markets since we launched in these cities. The businesses from these cities have been in fact matching up to a store sales in a metro city. There is a huge potential in non-metros and it will only get bigger and better. 

  • Where is Sephora headed next ? 

Vivek Bali – We are adding more stores in Punjab and Delhi going forward with immense opportunity in make-up segment in these geographies.  

Bhumi Rajgor, city based make-up artist, is elated with the launch of Sephora in Ahmedabad as she shares “I am so happy that Sephora has launched here. It is so convenient to get all my makeup needs in my city instead of stocking up every time I travel.” 

Adding to what should people buy for this wedding season, she hands a list saying “People should definitely buy Glam glow masks to make their skin glow for all the functions, Pixie glow toner, Bobbi brown foundation, Huda eye palettes, Anastasia Beverly hills liquid lipsticks and highlighters and Stila liquid glitters.” 

As Sephora plans its mega expansion plans across India, Ahmedabadis can rejoice in the fact that those Instagram Tutorial looks with premium products are now achievable here too in the city. Go ahead and get ‘Bhumi Rajgor suggested’ make-up products only from Sephora.