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Mary Kay enters India; sales teams may have to wait a while for the famous pink Cadillac

15-September-2007
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Mary Kay enters India; sales teams may have to wait a while for the famous pink Cadillac

Mary Kay Inc., the international direct sellers of skincare and colour cosmetics, has forayed into the Rs 2,500 crore Indian cosmetics industry as Mary Kay Cosmetics Pvt Ltd. With the addition of India to its international portfolio, the Texas-headquartered Mary Kay Inc. now has operations in over 30 markets worldwide, with a turnover of around $2.25 billion in 2006.

KK Chua, President, Mary Kay Asia-Pacific, said, “We anticipate generating the same success in India that we are experiencing in other Asia-pacific markets. We now have more than 350,000 Mary Kay independent beauty consultants in this region.”

The cosmetic industry in India is observing a rapid growth of 18-20 per cent. The skin care products segment alone accounts for 50 per cent of the cosmetics market in India, and is growing at a rate of 40 per cent.

Mary Kay began its test marketing in India in 2006, and a research by the company revealed that Indian women would at the most use just two products for skin care, as opposed to women in the West, who may indulge in five products for the same. Hence, the company has developed a three-in-one cleanser to suit the Indian market. The brand in India has also been specially developed for the Indian skin and climate. The 60 products offered by the company range from Rs 400 to Rs 1,550, and will target the upper middle-class women.

The company aims to have a sales force of 5,000 women within its first year of operations here. Worldwide, Mary Kay runs a one-of-its kind career reward for its top performing sales professionals with a customised pink Cadillac. However, the company deems it to too early to have the same reward for its sales professionals in India. The cosmetics company has a sales force of 1.7 million across the world.

In India, Mary Kay faces stiff competition from Oriflame, which is also into direct selling of skincare and colour cosmetics. When asked about the point of differentiation between the two, Hina Nagarajan, Country Manager, Mary Kay Cosmetics, said, “Mary Kay’s USP in India would be its well-trained beauty consultants, who would provide in-depth advice to women on the products to be best suited to them. The service experience will be the key differentiator.”

The company plans to invest $20 million in India over the next five years for setting up beauty centres, developing product portfolio, training consultants in the country, CSR initiatives and for brand building. In its first phase of launch, the company will focus its operations in New Delhi, Ludhiana and Chandigarh, and will be subsequently launched in Mumbai by October.

Promotions for Mary Kay have already begun on Delhi’s radio stations, which will be followed up with promotions in print by October. The company has roped in Optimum Media Solutions as AOR. The campaigns will highlight the product quality and the brand heritage.

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