Bottega products goes in sync with Indian tradition: Arjun Khurana, MD, OFI India
How is the business in India so far?
India is the country that values ancient practices and this goes in sync with the technologies and processes that are used in the manufacture of Bottega di LungaVita’s products. Our customers understand the traditional Italian and modern scientific methods used in the products manufacture. Hence, once they try a product, they come back again and thus, we have their loyalty.
How is the presence of your brand in India? How was the business during recession?
Bottega di LungaVita is a private label of Officina Farmaceutica Italiana (OFI), one of the Europe’s foremost leading companies on development and manufacture of demo-cosmetic, dietary – nutritional products and medical devices. We entered the Indian market in 2013 and since then, we have managed to make wide spread presence in the north of India. In November 2014, we launched our brand in Goa. We further plan to have our presence pan India. Speaking of recession, I would say that it has not impacted our business so far.
Do you see the same level of awareness for wellness among people now, in comparison with the time when you entered in the Indian market?
We as a brand are just 2 years old in the Indian market and we have noticed major changes in Indian consumers. They are now more aware and focused on maintaining a healthy lifestyle and are keen on using solutions that help them lead a hale and hearty life.
You are into ultra-luxury retail category. How many stores do you have in India and how is the business through these outlets?
The brand has built its presence in North India through approximately 65 locations in Delhi, Chandigarh, Ludhiana, Jammu, Aizawl, Agra and Lucknow. This includes 5 self-owned stores. Currently, the market share is small but growing, especially in tier-II cities. We have received a fairly good response from people, who have used our products. We expect to gain a considerable market share for the brand in these towns in the coming New Year. Ours products are also available on our website and thus, they are accessible to our customers across India.
How is maintaining store in India? Does it cost high to you in comparison with the business you get here?
The average size of our stores is about 350 sq ft. We try to maintain a budget, which depends on the city and the prevailing rents we spend, which is approximately Rs 8–10 lakh on the furniture and fixtures of each store. Our store formats range from kiosks to self-owned stores and shop-in-shops. In tier-II and -III cities, the company prefers shop-in-shops with a ready loyal customer base, who always make a bee line of that particular store for all their needs. These stores have the complete range of products offered by Bottega di Lungavita. The theme of their store design is aqua green inspired by flowing water, as the brand’s USP is using water from San Pellegrino.
The high-spenders lot of India does not compromise on their brand selection and are mostly brand loyal, which is a plus point for you. What is your strategy to lure and retain higher income group people to maintain your market position?
The high spending consumers in Indian are knowledgeable and well aware of the various skincare and wellness brands and their products available. They, at the same time, are conscious of what ingredients and processes are being used in the manufacture of the product. They tend to choose what best suits their body and so are open to try new products. This facet of the Indian consumers proves beneficial to our brand. The wide range of our products ensure that there is a definite product for every individual and thus, helps us gain their loyalty.
What is the procedure of staff recruitment for Indian stores? Do you have dedicated criteria to select staff?
Customer care and service is an extremely important aspect of retailing in India. We are careful about selecting our staff for our retail outlets. They have a thorough knowledge and understanding of our brand and its products. They are well trained in customer interaction and are well versed in educating the potential customers about the brand’s history and philosophy thus converting them into loyal clients.
What is the revenue ratio of your brand on the global platform, in comparison with India?
Bottega di LungaVita under OFI holds about 20 per cent share of the European market. In India, the growth is slow yet steady. We are still in a phase, where we are trying to reach out to majority of consumers.
What are your expansion plans in India? Will the focus be on e-tailing? If not, then how you plan to tap high spenders in tier II and III cities?
The company at present is targeting malls in tier-II cities, shop-in-shops in neighbourhood cosmetic stores and high streets in tier-I cities. We plan to go to 100 locations by the end of the year, after which we will start to expand in the West and then the South subsequently. At the same time, we are also focusing on increasing sales through e-commerce media. At present a small yet significant proportion of our sales volume is generated pan India from the online medium. This percentage is constantly on the rise and we notice a peak during the festive season.
As the demand for Green Cosmetics is picking up in India, do you have plans to enter in this category? If no, why?
All the brand’s products are manufactured using a blend of traditional Italian methods and modern scientific technologies and hence, they fall under the category of green cosmetics. The products are made in Italy in natural environment, close to the renowned springs of the very famous mineral water and far from any possible contamination, using mixtures of herbs, plants and flowers originating in the local mountains. Bottega di LungaVita, as a brand in this niche category has a wide scope in the Indian market. The quality of the brand’s formulae, the excellence of its production and its particular concern for the efficacy and skin compatibility of the product are the company’s key strengths.