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How beauty industry can beat the Covid blues with an innovative digital push

Sargam Dhawan Bhayana

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The beauty industry in India has steadily grown during the past few years. The consistent growth can also be strongly accredited to the online sales of beauty products, premiumisation and an inclination towards organic and ethical brands, making it a $14 billion industry which is expected to grow further to become a $20 billion industry by 2025.

The importance of going digital seems to be becoming more and more prominent. The recent and unforeseen Covid-19 pandemic has increased consumer digital traffic significantly. Easy Internet access and high penetration of smartphones are the driving forces of the consistent growth of beauty in the digital space.

Going digital for a brand is not a new concept. The digital space is constantly evolving and is extremely competitive. The Covid-19 pandemic has further tested all of us and forced us to be creative. This is not just for us but also for our businesses. It was time to put our heads together and go digital now more than ever.

Creativity during lockdown

This lockdown certainly got Instagram Live interactions trending. Social media has played an extremely crucial role for brands during this time. At a time when all avenues of revenue are closed, the only way to stay relevant is by making noise about your brand and creating brand recall. People are highly influenced by what is going on in the social world and to just be out there and have your brand reach out to a lot of people could be extremely beneficial. Our strategy during this time was to create relevant content and simultaneously educate the customer about our products and brand as a whole.

For instance, Paul Penders is the world’s first vegan beauty brand and not many people know about it. We took this time to talk about the concept of veganism and the various myths associated with it. Then, we explored veganism through lifestyle, food and basic ingredients. We curated special vegan DIY skincare treatments, which consumers could also practice at home easily, where we highlighted the benefits of the ingredients utilised in our products. We did the same with food: We interacted with top chefs and critics who were kind enough to talk about vegan food and also shared easy recipes which people could make at home.

Online revenue and Customer acquisition

It is often said that we are in the digital age right now. The dependency on a digital presence has been felt strongly during this time as the only form of purchase has been via online platforms. In my opinion, the main struggle when it comes to buying beauty products online is the in- ability to try the product be- forehand. This is a gap technology has tried to bridge through chatbots, video content that explains the product and highlights the ‘before and after’ results of the product and many more such avenues.

Personally, I have even tried products online where websites have outdone themselves and given an all-round customer experience. I was recently shopping on a website and I was blown away by how easily I could shop according to the type of my concern or problem. This just goes to show how well the digital space has grown and entered an avenue where the ‘feel’ of a product is essential before purchasing it and has managed to effortlessly translate that experience through tech and innovation and drives maximum revenue for brands via e- commerce today.

The beauty industry is extremely competitive, and on e-commerce platforms, the competition is on a whole other level. Digital market- ing via Instagram, Facebook and Google Ads have be- come the main path for direct conversion and the way to make that happen is by ensuring your brand is as out there as it can be, from the content you put out, the appeal of the product, the ‘vibe’ and lastly, but most importantly, the customer experience you offer. We have seen returns of x4 on Tressmart. com and continue to grow digitally. The investment cost is low and the return on that investment is high, hence, it is a beneficial tool if used correctly.

It is often said that the customer is king and that is something I abide by because, without the customer, a brand or business is nothing. In order to differentiate oneself and truly stand out, one needs to develop a great personalised relationship with the customer. Inter- personal relationships are key, and if a company can add a more personal touch to things, the more they will benefit. By a personal touch, I mean providing impeccable customer service right from introducing your brand to the end of the customer’s retail journey with you. It is essential to provide a memorable experience to the customer and it should last until the product reaches their doorstep. Another key learning as an entrepreneur I have adopted is to make sure that customer concerns are resolved effectively within a quick time frame.

Where are we headed?
For the foreseeable future, online buying will be driving brands. However, for brands which aren’t as well-known as the established ones, an offline presence is crucial as a customer will only buy a product from a new brand after trying it. For a brand not as well-known, it is definitely difficult to be de- pendent only on an online presence for sales. Having only a digital platform to demonstrate your product and its benefits without real customer face-time is definitely a challenge. The way I see it, the digital space for beauty and all industries will only become more prominent and one has to find their place in it. The industry is filled with a lot of noise coming from everywhere and one has to be strategic and creative and have out-of-the-box ideas to be heard and establish their own unique voice.


The writer is founder and director at Tressmart Marketing Pvt Ltd and director at Paul Penders.

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Woman moves court after losing a Ludo game with dad

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A 24-year-old woman has approached a family court after she lost a Ludo game to her father. The matter came up before family court counsellor Sarita Rajani in the Madhya Pradesh capital here. The daughter has said that she has been experiencing alienation from her father ever since the outcome in the board game. 

“A 24-year-old young woman had come to us and said that when she was playing Ludo with her siblings and father, her father killed her tokens (goti) and she felt it was a breach of trust. She said she had trusted her father a lot and didn’t expect to be defeated by him,” said Rajani. 

Rajani told reporters that the woman has told her she has lost respect for her father and even felt hesitation in calling him “father”. She said the father daughter relation was better earlier and only the board game defeat led to the crisis. 

“I had four meetings with the woman and now some positive changes have started taking place,” said the counselor, adding: “Nowadays, children are unable to endure defeat which is why such cases come up. They need to learn to accept defeat which is as important as winning.” 

During the lockdown period, the young woman, her two siblings and their father used to play the board game. After losing a game, the young woman developed resentment against her father, which increased over time. Rajani said the girl did not share her feelings with her family and decided to seek counselling about the matter.

 She said the young woman is currently pursuing her studies, and the family lives in Bhopal city. The girl does not have a mother and she is the youngest of three siblings. “She has been counselled four times till now and the situation is improving. We will find a positive solution,” Rajani added.

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Former Bihar police chief joins Nitish’s Party a month before Assembly elections

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Ahead of the Assembly elections in Bihar, former Director-General of Police (DGP) Gupteshwar Pandey, who recently took voluntary retirement scheme (VRS), joined the JD-U on Sunday evening. He met Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Saturday and later said that he has not taken any decision on contesting the elections. “I came here to meet Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and to thank him as he gave me absolute freedom to serve my duties as DGP. I have yet not taken any decision on contesting polls,” he had said. Later talking to the media, he said that CM Nitish Kumar called and asked him to join the JD-U.

 Pandey quit as DGP after his request for voluntary retirement was approved on Tuesday by the Bihar government, which waived a three-month mandatory cooling-off period.

 At a press conference held later at the party office, Pandey said he would be a “disciplined soldier of the party” and it is up to party how it utilises him. Asked about the buzz on his contesting elections, he said that too was the party’s call. “I was called by CM himself and asked to join. Whatever the party asks me to do, I will do. I don’t understand politics. I am a simple person who has spent his time working for the downtrodden section of society,” he told mediapersons.

 On Saturday, the former DGP met Nitish Kumar and claimed that it was just a “thank you” session. “I discussed nothing political with the Chief Minister. I have worked with him for long and, after retirement, I just wanted to thank him for his support,” he had told reporters.

 Pandey had earlier made headlines with his role in the Sushant Rajput case, and his comment questioning “aukat” (stature) of the actor’s friend Rhea Chakraborty for her remarks on Nitish Kumar.

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Tejashwi’s big poll promise: Will fill 10L vacancies soon after coming to power

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RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav

Rashtriya Janata Dal leader Tejashwi Yadav on Sunday promised that if his party returned to power after the Bihar Assembly elections, more than 10 lakh government vacancies would be filled within two months. He also accused the Nitish Kumar government of neglecting the youths of Bihar. 

“As a result, job scarcity is at its highest in state. He is unable to fill 4.5 lakh vacancies in different departments. Besides, vacant posts of supporting staffs are even more,” the Leader of the Opposition in Bihar Assembly told the media here.

 “If we calculate, over 10 lakh posts are lying vacant in various departments. Besides, opportunities to create jobs in industries and unorganised sectors are also possible,” Tejashwi said. 

“As per the World Health Organisation (WHO), one doctor is required for every 1,000 people. Accordingly, 1.25 lakh doctors are required for 12 crore people of the state. Besides, around 2 lakh support staff like nurses, lab technicians and Group D employees are needed. As many as 50,000 posts of teachers and 75,000 Junior Engineers will be filled. In Bihar police, over 50,000 posts are vacant,” he added.

 He also claimed that law and order in Bihar was at its worse. “When the RJD was part of the state government for 15 months, I was the Deputy CM… the crime graph had gone down during that period.” 

Playing the regional card, Tejashwi said that he had earlier advocated the implementation of the domicile law in Bihar but the Chief Minister did not agree.

 “Neighbouring Jharkhand has a domicile law; Madhya Pradesh has 100 per cent domicile law, and so do others. Why has he not implemented this law in Bihar? Does he have any explanation?”

 The RJD leader also took a dig at Nitish Kumar’s claims on ‘sushasan’ (good governance), asking if he was denying that 60 scams had taken place during his rule. “Srijan scam, paddy scam, Saat Nischay scam etc took place… I want to ask Nitishji about the recovery of money from offenders. How much money did he manage to recover from scamsters? Does he have the guts to reveal the amount in public domain?” Tejashwi said. 

With agency inputs

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India would never go up when Bharat is going down

Our corporates must realise that nature abhors disequilibrium. There is a huge multitude of people
who have been left out of economic development. Why can’t they tie up their goals to the needs of these
people? Why can’t they give them work and therefore, money and therefore, create a further market?

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We have a sound democratic system based on universal adult franchise. The Constitution was written by wise men and women who had experienced long years of colonisation and had incorporated various checks and balances to ensure that we were not subjugated again, either from outside or, more importantly, from forces within. The people were to elect their representatives who would formulate policies and rules for using the country’s resources for allround development. We, the people, would rule, never looking for a benign ruler. Our institutions were supposed to be forward-looking, framing policies with long-term goals, rather than in response to short-term pressures. Gradually, however, political expediency drove us to choose policies which would produce quick results and public interest was viewed as a hindrance. Thus, environmental concerns, due process and the fair allocation of natural resources came to be viewed as impediments to growth. 

Over the years, there has been an abdication of responsibility by leaders and institutions. Knowingly or unknowingly, decision making was outsourced to interest groups, which increased their clout by backing the decision-makers. Today, advice on economic matters is sought from analysts linked to brokerages or hedge funds. IT professionals linked to technology firms advise us on IT and cyber security, and the same happens in every other field like health, education, agriculture, media, infra development and, I daresay, even foreign relations, national defence and strategic affairs. Consulting domain experts is fine — but letting them guide public policy? That is daft. It is so akin to ‘insider trading’ and ‘conflict of interest’ that it is a wonder we tolerate it. Every policy matter must go through a process of consultation amongst all stakeholders — in public view. Only the sunlight of the public gaze and the oxygen of open critical debate can wipe out the disease or the rot in our decision making.  

The economic indicators we use are misleading. The most widely used indices hide the disparity in incomes and the gulf between the rich and the poor. The GDP and GNP were indicators developed to show down the performance of the Soviet bloc countries. Recall the words of President John F. Kennedy where he said, “GNP does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education, or the joy of their play. It does not include the beauty of our poetry or the strength of our marriages; the intelligence of our public debate or the integrity of our public officials. It measures neither our wit nor our courage; neither our wisdom nor our learning; neither our compassion nor our devotion to our country; it measures everything, in short, except that which makes life worthwhile.”

 Observers are now talking about a ‘K-shaped’ postCovid recovery, meaning that while India will go up, Bharat will go down. The overall indices will, however, continue to show a growing GDP. What happened to the trickle-down theory or “the big wave lifting up the small boats”? Have we finally given up on this charade and come to accept that it is alright if the industrial worker, farmer, labourer, mid-level doctor, engineer and teacher keeps getting pushed down the economic ladder, while the rich, financial wizards, senior IT professionals and unscrupulous traders keep amassing wealth? It suits the top one percent to keep their eyes shut and ears closed to the pain of the lowermost ninety percent. But it doesn’t add up — what happened to the remaining nine percent? They are the educated middle class, supposed to be the conscience keepers of the nation. Over the last three decades, they have been lulled by unsavoury levels of consumerism. Their numbers equal the combined population of the UK and France or Germany. They are big enough to sustain an economy amongst them and are busy teaching themselves to remain disengaged from reality. They remain entertained, stay in gated colonies and, apart from ostentatious living and conspicuous consumption, invest their surplus incomes in overseas assets. Have you noticed the growing number of private jets at our airports? Did someone also say ‘colonisation of space’?

 There was a time when corporate leaders were institution builders (there are still a few left). They had a long-term vision for their ventures, which dovetailed seamlessly into the nation’s public policy. They set up companies and nurtured them, looking after their employees, giving them a sense of belonging. Training, healthcare, education, recreation and other facilities were a part of a holistically growing enterprise. Today, most promoters are clear that their only motive is to make money — and make it as quickly as possible. There is no vision to create an abiding institution and no qualms in letting companies sink after money has been drawn out through questionable means. They raise companies for slaughter and hollowing them out is a business strategy. 

The Industrial Revolution, which generated unprecedented economic progress, was the most effective antipoverty development in the world’s history. Unfortunately, however, over the last five to six decades, capitalism has been misused by those who claim to support it. Business people regularly petition governments for favourable treatment. They want subsidies, tax incentives and regulatory protection against competitors. Have you ever seen them lobby for unfettered competition and free markets? People professing to be probusiness are increasingly anti-free market, pro-cronyism — and therefore, anti-capitalism. These vested interests encourage patronage rather than reward for those who add value to the economy. 

Our corporates must realise that nature abhors disequilibrium. The reality is staring at us. There is a huge multitude of people who have been left out of economic development. Why can’t they tie up their goals to the needs of these people? Why can’t they give them work and therefore, money and therefore, create a further market? Remember Henry Ford? In his 1926 book, Today and Tomorrow, Ford had made a challenging statement: “The owner, the employees, and the buying public are all one and the same, and unless an industry can so manage itself as to keep wages high and prices low it destroys itself, for otherwise it limits the number of its customers. One’s own employees ought to be one’s own best customers.” In 1914, when he introduced the assembly line mass production of the iconic Model Ts, Ford doubled the salary of his employees. “We increased the buying power of our own people, and they increased the buying power of other people, and so on and on,” Ford wrote. That is an enlightened vision! 

The writer is an Indian civil servant and a former Chairman of the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC). The views expressed are personal. This is the second of a five-part series that will appear over a period of time.

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No let up in attacks on religious places in Andhra, now ‘Nandi’ idol vandalized

Lokeswara Rao

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There is no let-up in the incidents of vandalisation of idols of Hindu deities in Andhra Pradesh. There is already massive outrage over the burning of the religious Chariot at Antarvedi temple of West Godavari District. Now in another incident, unknown offenders have vandalized the ancient Nandi idol situated in Shiva Temple at Nangamangalam village. 

The DSP of the area said, “The offenders stole the oldest Nandi idol with a motive of taking pearls, diamonds, Panchalohas, etc., inside the idol. We will nab all the culprits.”

 With such incidents on the rise, police in Andhra Pradesh have been put on alert with all-night vigil. The government has asked the police to ensure security and safety of all places of worship in the state so that no incident of attack on religious places occurs.

 The police have also asked the priests and religions heads across the state to be alert and vigilant. They all have been asked to get cameras fixed in the temples, churches and mosques.

 In Prakasam and West Godavari districts, the policemen visit temples, churches and mosques, suggesting safety measures to the clergy as well as locals.

 The department is keeping vigil 24 hours at all places of worship across Prakasam District. Prakasam Superintendent of Police (SP), Siddharth Kaushal, has warned hate mongers of strict action if any incident takes place. Meanwhile, attacks on temples have snowballed into a major issue in Andhra Pradesh, with the BJP raising it regularly. Recently, idols at Sri Venu Gopala Swamy Temple were destroyed, the iconic chariot at Sri Prasanna Venkateswara Swamy Temple at Appalayagunta was gutted in the fire. 

On 6 September, an ancient chariot at Antarvedi Temple was found burnt in suspicious circumstances. Three silver lion statues at Kanaka Durga temple in Vijayawada were stolen. An idol of Lord Hanuman in Yeleswaram was vandalized.

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PUNJAB GOVERNMENT’S BIG STEPS TO STUB OUT STUBBLE BURNING

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In a series of measures to check stubble burning in the ongoing Kharif season, the Punjab government has appointed 8000 Nodal Officers in the paddy growing villages of the state, with 23,500 more machines being given to farmers for in-situ management of paddy straw. 

Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh has also appealed to the farmers not to burn the crop residue, as it could aggravate Covid-19 conditions apart from leading to pollution spread. Seeking the support and cooperation of the farmers in preventing stubble burning amid the pandemic, he said that experts had warned it could have serious implications for the vulnerable people, already suffering from lung and other diseases.

 Captain Amarinder said while he had been repeatedly following up with the Prime Minister for compensation to the farmers for defraying the cost on the management of paddy straw, the state was also taking various steps to educate the farmers about the problem. The state government has been seeking from the Centre Rs 100/quintal as compensation to enable the farmers to manage the paddy straw without burning it.

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