Expert Take: The Changing World of Beauty & Grooming in COVID Times
2020shattered all the expectations we had for it in a matter of months – but it need not go down in history as the terrible 20s, as more and more people are holding on to the hope for new opportunities once the world heals. We spoke to experts and professionals across the Indian salon & beauty industry to understand the current scenario as well as their insights on what’s next.
“For an industry that is based on human interaction and touch, the salons have been greatly affected by COVID-19 and the consequent lockdown. The industry is a major employer, especially for women. Since talent is an important resource in this business, it will be imperative for the government to step forward and support the industry with steps to engage talent, simplify approvals, help with liquidity in the short term, and stimulate consumer demand by lowering the GST slab.
During the lockdown, we are using the time to further hone our teams’ skills through classes and training sessions. We are also keeping in touch with our customers through live sessions and social content. We are utilising our work from home to emerge stronger and to bring the best to our customers when the situation returns to normal.”
— Pushkaraj Shenai, CEO, Lakmé Lever
“YLG, for the past 10 years, has always maintained International Hygiene standards and will only up its game from here. There are many things that we, as a reputed and trusted salon, must pay attention to so as to do justice not only to our beloved customers but also to our hard-working staff. The government and Beauty and Wellness Sector Skill Council (B&WSSC) have given our industry a very detailed guideline for what all brands should be doing in-salon for both customers as well as the staff. YLG believes in strictly following these guidelines and in addition, we want to assure our customers that we will be taking extra measures for better PPE. Appointments at each salon will be limited and customers within the salon will be at the min distance recommended by the govt. We’ve even taken the tough decision to keep our salons closed one day in a week so as to do extra deep cleaning of each salon. The message we want to convey to our customers is that, if you trust your brand, then Social Distancing does not mean Beauty Distancing. #SocialDistancingIsNOTBeautyDistancing.”
— Vaijayanti Bhalchandra, Co-founder, CTO of YLG
“These are unprecedented remove, beyond the circle of our influence and control. My suggestion for industry members is to not spend too much time thinking about what you can’t do, rather focus on what you can. Use this time to do things you have never done before, both personally and professionally. At Streamline, as a company, we are working a lot on internal capability building — for our clients, hairdressers, and customers. We are working on a Salon support campaign so that we can be ready to strike once the markets reopen. We are also focussed on a hygiene portfolio, which I believe is what the next few generations are going to need — a lot of hygiene-centric products.”
— Aankith Aroraa, CEO & Founder, Streamline Services
“The Coronavirus outbreak is first and foremost a human tragedy, affecting hundreds of thousands of people. It’s also having a growing impact on the global economy. But once the lockdown ends, people will strive for normalcy. And that’s where the beauty and skin-care industry can contribute.
After staying locked inside for so long, people will want to go out. To meet friends and relatives and catch up on the lost time. They would want to look good. If we travel back in time, World War 2 left Europe barren. But during and after this terrifying time, women still worried about looking good. A swipe of lipstick or a touch of hair dye for them was a way to retain their humanity, dignity and femininity, to put on a brave face, to boost their morale as well as that of the soldiers, and have some fun, even if only for a little while.
We had informed our customers through our Social media platforms and emailers when all our stores were shut down. As a Korean organisation, we take the utmost care in our sanitization. We will be keeping in touch with our customers through text messages and emailers and we will also ask our Store Managers to make a call to the customers in our database and ask them to visit soon.”
— Mini Sood Banerjee, Assistant Director & Head of Marketing at Innisfree India
“The entire world is fighting against an invisible virus, which is not only challenging healthcare but dragging the economy down too. Every entrepreneur is thinking about how to meet the monthly commitments, which include rents, salaries, and EMIs. Though staff salaries are given priority at this stage and the EMIs are postponed through the moratorium arrangements, the rental part is still in a grey area, which is almost 25% to 30% of the OpEx. Only a few malls have announced some remedies and reliefs, but we need to wait and watch on the standalone salon property owners’ response. Also, we can expect a lot of surprises from the bankers as well on the moratorium arrangements.
The burnout is going to be 3-5 lakhs per (stand-alone) salon per month, which just covers the rent & salary. The survival of the salon and entrepreneur is going to be based on retaining the staff, negotiating with landlords/bankers/vendors, engaging with the customers, shutdown time frame, Covid-19 control, economy revival and customer confidence in hygiene and safety.
Covid-19 will have long term impact on the Luxury / Premium segment, but the mass premium basic and essential services will regain momentum once the shutdown is lifted.
Managing and surviving April, May and June 2020 should be the short term plan. Cash is King. Covid-19 is not the real issue, it is all about Cash Reserve. Organisations who have planned a Cash Reserve for a minimum 3-6 months will be able to sail through this storm. I strongly recommend everyone to take charge without panic and handle everything with utmost love & care.”
— Blessing A Manikandan, CEO, Paulsons Lifestyle Group Master Franchisee of TONI&GUY
“If you are a beauty professional, there is no better time than now to upgrade your skills to become the best you can be at what you do. If you are a struggling business owner barely getting month on month, the next few months are going to be challenging — so, use this time to create a robust marketing plan that can help acquire new clients and strengthen your business once the economy opens. If you are an established brand, take time to enjoy your success, collaborate with your team online to create new systems, innovate, and work towards becoming a stronger brand in the coming future.”
— Roopa Ambekar, Founder /Managing Director, Uber Salon & Spa, Bangalore