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Interview
 
January 19 , 2021
Sandeep_Gupta_Clat.jpge’clat Superior is one of the fastest growing skincare brands in India, driven to bring in innovation and design in the field of skincare. The brand aims to instill a sense of confidence in their customers and focus on creating products suitable to all skin types, promoting the message that ‘Everyone is different and beautiful in their own way'. The company envisions becoming the pioneer in skin-care innovation and is striving to do so by breaking barriers in the skin-care industry with unique and thoroughly formulated products. To cater to our changing skin-care requirements, The company  has launched their Multi-molecular, Hyaluronic acid Facial Serum.  Introduced for the first time in the Indian market, it aims to pose as a one-stop solution to all skin concerns, Sandeep Gupta, founder and CEO of e’clat Superior goes into the details in an email interaction with Ranjana Sharma. Excerpts:

Explain about your product range in brief and how is it different from that of competitors?
At e’clat Superior we offer a complete skincare range for almost every skin concern. We develop our products on the basis of a 3-pronged policy – ‘Prepare, Prevent and Repair'. Our products address a plethora of skin concerns like hyper-pigmentation, acne, ageing, etc. Beyond these, there are a lot of other skin concerns that we have identified vis-à-vis the Indian skincare market. And we believe in developing a wholesome skincare range for the Indian skin. For every single skin concern, we’ve developed a whole range addressing just one concern. For instance, for hyper-pigmentation, we’ve developed a cleanser, a toner, a serum, and a sunscreen. We’ve divided our skincare range into the ‘am’ and ‘pm’ care segments. Thus, for every skincare problem, we have a range of start-to-finish products. Usually, a cosmetic company looks at the market trends and develops accordingly but our USP lies in that we go into the background of the problem and develop a holistic solution, involving a number of products to be used at different times of the day.
 
Your brand seems to be very popular among dermatologists. What could be the reason?
We are basically a doctor-oriented company. Our brand is trusted by the leading dermatologists in our country and they don’t hesitate to recommend us to their patients. Fortunately, during the lockdown, our products have been appreciated by the beauty bloggers in a big way. And e’clat has come to be known because of its premium quality products. You must realise that a dermatologist would not recommend our products if he or she isn’t getting results from it. So, along with being result-oriented about our products, we also have to provide the safety profile of each product. We realise and respect the fact that we cannot make a fool out of dermatologists. So, instead of focusing on advertising or PR, we have to practically prove the efficacy of our products in front of the dermatologists and we have deliberately chosen that path. So, that, in my opinion, is the main reason why dermatologists trust and recommend our brand. We take pride in the fact that our products are not mere OTC but dermatologically-backed OTC products. This is where we make the difference.  
 
Which of the active ingredients manufactured by you are available in India?
As for active ingredients, we are using some of the best active ingredients from some of the best pharma companies of the world. These ingredients come at a premium and that is the reason behind their efficacy as well as the costing of our products. I will just give you an example of Vitamin C – It is available at Rs 25 per kg as well as at Rs 600 per kg. So, what we are doing different is that we are not working on the costing but on the results of our products. People who pay the cost and use our brand should feel a visible difference in their skin and life.
 
What are the India-specific challenges for these ingredients?
The main challenge is costing because if you take a look at just the online market, you have skincare products available at half the price of our products. But we have continued to focus on the quality of ingredients than just looking to add that ingredient to our product composition. The price that the consumer is paying is for the quality of that ingredient because it makes the real difference to the outcome of that product.
 
What are the products that are being developed currently by your company?  What is your contribution to their development?
Let me tell you clearly that we are not an research and development company. I don’t stake a claim that I have developed a product, whatsoever! We are a purely marketing company who is taking its entire knowledge from the research and development sector. They are guiding our products and ingredients. We are taking their help and just formulating products according to the Indian skincare needs. Our contribution to the Indian market is to make products that are really safe, really effective and to make this effective range available to Indian consumers. In fact, the response that we receive from the market is because of the research and development that we consult. One of our major products, Fadeout, is one of the safest products that works against pigmentation, which can be a traumatic experience for anyone. It is made of clinically-proven, safe ingredients. That is what our contribution is to the Indian market – we have made products that are safer and more effective.
 
Tell us about the share of active ingredients in your sales. What kind of growth are you looking at during the current financial year?
Ours is just a 7 or 8 months old brand but already our popularity has gone through the roof. Looking at the past trends, we are looking at almost a 200 per cent growth rate in the coming months. Pigmentation is a huge skin problem in India and as more and more people come to know of our products, I am sure we will be able to double our sales in the coming year. We are already doubling our sales figures every month. The current financial year is definitely going to be better and beyond our expectations. We’ve kept our fingers crossed!
 
What are the prominent ingredients used in your products? From where do you source them?
We are not doing any different thing, we are only doing things differently. That is our guiding principle. I will give you an example of Hyaluronic Acid (HA), which is a very common ingredient. Almost all the brands use it. We are different because for the first time we are using upto 12 per cent HA in our products because it is not toxic. It is a mechanism that hydrates the skin from inside and outside. Other brands contain only 2 per cent HA, which is where we are different. And I’ve told you earlier that we source our products from some of the best research and development companies in the world. In ‘Fadeout’ as well, there are two ingredients that are making the difference, which are also unique to our brands.
 
Where is your manufacturing plant and R&D unit situated?
We’ve got our manufacturing plant in Ahmedabad. To be frank, setting up an research and development unit is our next task but right now, we are not a research and development company.
 
Do you export your products? If yes, to which countries? Are there any plans for international expansion or mergers?
We’ve got clients across the world and we are shipping our products to them. So, definitely, going by their response, we are looking forward to exporting our products in a major way in the future.
 
What is the market share of your existing product range, and are there any new launches in the pipeline?
We are working on a lot of products currently. One of our major products, which will be ready in the next two months, is the Men’s skincare range. We have everything in place for that. This range is guided by the growing awareness among Indian men towards personal skincare and hygiene. The next step is definitely Men’s skincare. Our second, most-important target is our offline stores. The stores will sell our products, of course, with proper education and consultation. Multi-brand offline stores will be there soon.
 
What were the post covid-19 challenges faced by your company?
Ours being a premium skincare segment, we were really skeptical about our chances at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic. The way the country was behaving in the first 2 months, I was not very confident about people buying our products or even showing an interest in us. There was also the economic burden involved. But my biggest learning from this situation is that skincare and beauty are among the most mandatory things to take care of. For the first 2-3 months, there was no courier service, no logistics, nothing but still, we kept receiving client queries amidst the lockdown period. People were ready to pay in advance and buy the products in bulk as well. They wanted our products at any cost! Despite the office space closed, we were able to manage through this situation. Being a pharma company originally, we had been sending medicines to our clients through post. We followed the same method for our cosmetic products as well. The pandemic helped us realise why people were crazy about our products and it felt heartening to realise that!
 
According to you, what is the future of the Indian cosmetics industry?
Skincare business is not anymore about just putting a product, out there in the market and raking in the profits. Our approach, right from day 1, has been to educate the consumer about our products and allow them the privilege of consultation with our experienced dermatologists. The consumer is aware, educated and curious today and he is going to decide our future journey. That is why, I personally put a lot of emphasis on customer feedback for my products. Our focus remains on what makes the customer happy and satisfied with our range of products and we let that guide us on our future path. The Indian cosmetics industry needs to follow the customers’ expectations if it has to evolve and keep up with the global competition.

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