Madhurima Ramakrishna and Ramakrishna Gopal from Bangalore are busy providing natural solutions for skin and hair care for everyone through their brand Aroma Essentials.
Armed with a degree / diploma in Cosmetology and Aesthetics, Madhurima set out to make homemade cosmetics and skin products to treat her own acne condition which soon became a germinating business idea for the two and now, their products are a combination of Aromatherapy and Botanical Extracts that seem to have found a loyal fan base.
In conversation, the due talk about their most popular products, consumer demographic and their five year plan.
Madhurima Ramakrishna and Ramakrishna Gopal
Which regions your products are most popular in?
M: While we have a pan-India presence, owing to the fact that we started our operations from Bengaluru, bulk of our customers are from the south of India.
However my personal opinion is that it all depends on the specific requirements of an individual (irrespective of region) and to what extent we are able to support and help them, is the more significant aspect that makes us and our products popular and acceptable
What are the demographics of your consumer?
R: It has been our good fortune that we have had customers of all ages. Typically our customers are between the ages of 18 to 45 years. But we have our toddler customers (few months old) as well who have taken a liking to our baby care range of products. Our recently launched range of pet care products is also finding favour with parents of our four-legged furry friends
What is the scope for market expansion for organic beauty brands in India?
M: There are a few businesses that I believe would never go out of vogue and Skincare is one of them.
I personally feel that there is enough room in the market for brands that want to create a niche and at the same time, make relevant, effective and affordable products.
What is the price point of your products?
R: Our range starts from INR 125 and can go upto INR 1450 for the published catalogue items. Customised products are priced as per the specific requirements and the inputs that go into making them.
M: Our aim to make the most reasonable products and make them available in quantities that could cater to the requirements of customers, from every strata of society. However, in some cases, our products might seem pricier, due to the sheer expensive nature of the ingredients that go into making them. We make every effort not to compromise on the quality or quantity of the essential oils and other ingredients that go into our products.
What products of yours are in high demand?
R: It is very difficult to name our best selling products but here are a few that I can mention based on the number of orders as well as the reviews of our customers:
Carrot sun block
Facewashes – Orange and Tomato
Day and Night serums
Hair Revitalising mask
Hair Growth Blend
Baby Ubtan (scrub) and soap
Onion Cleanser bars
As a startup, how have you managed to compete with well-established beauty brands in India?
R: Madhurima (Founder) personally believes that while it is good to have certain products that are staple and help in sustenance of the brand, we also need to address customers’ specific skin and hair conditions and make relevant products.
We ensure that we talk to our prospective and existing customers and understand their exact requirements, consider any pre-existing conditions etc. before suggesting the best products for them. In many cases, we also make customised products for people with specific conditions, which don’t necessarily form part of our published Catalogue
Our family (clients) believes that this is our USP and what clearly distinguishes us from the others and has helped us gain a strong footing in this industry dominated by MNC brands
What is the average shelf life of your products?
M: We do not use any artificial preservatives to lengthen the shelf life of our products. Hence we typically ask our customers to refrigerate products such as body butters, hair masks etc.
The typical shelf life is between 3 months to 2 years, but depends on the weather conditions as well. In order to address this issue, we provide quantities as little as 25 gms which typically last for 15-20 days of normal usage and hence does not necessitate any special storage requirements.
How much does organic certification matter for Indian consumers?
R: The Indian customer is very well read and is conscious of the impacts of chemical ingredients in beauty products and on the environment.
The awareness regarding natural or organic ingredients and products is ever increasing and there is an increased acceptance for such products. Also the benefits that accrue to the individuals as well as to the environment is a very critical aspect that adds to the demand for such products.
M: While certification might make it easier for newer or smaller brands to penetrate the market, I personally believe that it is the products and the resultant benefits that would really hold a brand in good stead over the years.
How are you intending to scale up in the next 5 years?
M: Essentially, our products are hand-made and as such there is an inherent limit on the scale of operations. However, we are trying to address this through a combination of measures like succession planning, automating certain aspects of product preparation and packing, launching a website, opening of experience stores where folks can walk-in, sample our products and buy them off the counter etc.