How This Digital Organic Beauty Care Company Upgraded To A Retail Brand 'it is very difficult to figure out where one should put their time and effort'

By Sandeep Soni

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There is nothing to lose if as a newborn consumer goods start-up your first product doesn't work. But if you aren't a new-kid-on-the-block anymore and customers love you, then what you do to make every new product perform? Of course, market surveys cannot be your best friend always. But Arush Chopra did know what to do.

Chopra ran a personal care manufacturing brand but tweaked it into a digital organic beauty care retail brand in November 2013 called Just Herbs. The start-up already had a product line under skin, hair and bath and body verticals selling online.

While there wasn't much of a challenge for Chopra in introducing new products but "it is very difficult to figure out where one should put their time and effort in such a way that it truly chimes with what consumers actually want," says Chopra. "

Hefty consultant fees have often resulted in products that failed. For a self-funded and return-on-investment driven brand like ours, that's a huge risk to take," he adds.

What User Want

So, this time instead of a market research firm, he went back to his customers and asked – what product do you want? "We reached out, via social media, to women of various age groups, living in various cities and asked them what their dream beauty product is or should be," recalls Chopra.

Once the substantial amount of suggestions poured in, they were asked about everything - ingredients, texture, packaging, performance and the aroma. Just Herbs product development team sifted through ingredients, read up scientific journals and ayurvedic texts to zero down on the best raw materials for the product.

First such product was Herb Enriched Skin Tint – a skincare-cum makeup for daily use to match skin tone and cover blemishes. "Here the first questions asked was, whether the customer was using bb cream or cc cream and whether she faced any problem after using those," he says.

Ready-to-pay Customers

And numbers said it all. Chopra sells Rs 8,000 - Rs 10,000 bottles of the product every month saving anywhere between Rs 5-20 lac based on a different variant. The product took overall six months in the making including three months for prototyping. The precise customer understanding wasn't possible through traditional market consultancy route.

"There you don't get the qualitative feedback from the customer and whether that customer is relevant to you or not. Involving customers gave me a great sense of how the product would work and so I had customers ready to pay even before I launched it," asserts Chopra.

During prototyping itself, the awareness was created around the product hence, there was no time loss for marketing of the product as well, unlike in a traditional model where customers don't know about the product. The start-up has already served around 30,000 online registered users.

(This article was first published in the December issue of Entrepreneur Magazine. To subscribe, click here)

Sandeep Soni

Former Features Editor

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