Connect with us

Alumni Speak

‘To succeed, companies need to understand their consumers’ needs of tomorrow’

Dipin Kamal Passi, Joint Managing Director, Lotus Herbals Pvt. Ltd. shares his thoughts on current trends changing the ball game of India’s booming beauty and personal care industry



Skilled in Marketing Management, Consumer Behaviour, Corporate Strategy and Operational Management, Dipin Kamal Passi, Joint Managing Director, Lotus Herbals Pvt. Ltd. has spent  more than two decades in the cosmetic industry. After completing his BBA from Apeejay School of Management (ASM) alongside B. Com Honours from University of Delhi, Passi joined his family-owned company, Lotus Herbals. However, he soon realised the ever-evolving dynamics of the global market and the need to enhance his business acumen. Thus, the Apeejay alumnus went on to pursue his MBA in International Trade and Management from Johnson and Wales University.

In 2021, he also completed a Senior Executive Leadership Programme, predominantly focusing on leadership skills, from Harvard Business School. In this interview, Passi highlights the current trends defining the beauty and personal care industry and how consumer purchasing behaviour has changed post-pandemic. Edited excerpts: 

Post the disruptions and no-touch norms due to Covid-19, India’s beauty and skincare industry has evolved differently. Two emerging trends that are shaping the future for this industry?

I think one major trend that has emerged post the pandemic is that consumers are now making skincare product choices over the internet. And in the last couple of years, we have witnessed the launch of so many D2C (Direct-to-Consumer) brands. There are more than 120 D2C brands in the cosmetic segment right now. In fact, these D2C brands have gone a way ahead in promoting skincare, hair products online. Clearly, there is a paradigm shift, wherein consumers are not frequently approaching brick and mortar retail stores for personal care needs, but are now making these purchases online. 

Another big trend is influencer-led marketing. It’s a part of digital marketing strategy that has currently gone to a different level altogether. In fact, digital marketing was just picking even before the pandemic. But, many companies hadn’t realised the importance of digital marketing tools then and were still using more traditional methods like word of mouth, referrals, and networking. This changed in the last couple of years and spending on digital marketing by companies – big or small – has massively increased. 

Today, influencer-led marketing is changing the dynamics of the cosmetic industry rapidly. In the last couple of years, influencer-led marketing has played a significant role in every online purchasing decision. Let’s say, for instance, every third purchase is being influenced by online influencers. India is going the Korean and Japanese way, where influencers have been playing a vital role in driving sales of brands in the personal and beauty care segment. They are changing the whole ball game of the personal skin care industry. It’s surprising to see how Indians are adapting to these new trends to fulfill their shopping experiences. There was a time when generation after generation used only one hair oil or skin cream. But today’s consumers are open to experiment. 

Any key factor influencing consumer purchasing behaviour?

Yes, the consumers today are trying out new products as well as new concepts. Let me give you an example: India predominantly is a warm country, so three-fourth of the nation is currently experiencing monsoon. And in this season, you do not want to wear heavy oily cream on your skin. You want to use light cream or gels on your skin. And the consumers of today are more expressive and demanding of their needs.  And when we go out and talk to our consumers, it’s about understanding their needs and working backwards around them. But success does not lie over there. Successful companies are those who understand the consumers’ needs of tomorrow – when you know what your consumers need five years ahead. If you are just understanding today’s needs and working just on it, then you are behind the curve. In this case, serums have been a trending product and consumers understand the benefit of serum. It has the potency of the cream and at the same time, it’s easy on the body unlike a heavy cream. 

Another thing is the ingredients. Earlier, people were bent on using a few ingredients like Vitamin E and Aloe Vera over and over again. But today’s consumers are looking for evolved high-tech ingredients.

What role did Apeejay play in shaping your professional journey?  

When I joined ASM, the idea was to learn the basic administration, marketing and operations management skills. But ASM really helped to shape up my entrepreneurial skills. I learned in depth how things work in the business ecosystem in India. The case study method gave me a very close look into the national and international business, knowing about different companies. We developed the hobby of reading newspapers every day – especially the business newspapers and discussing different topics in the class. Moreover, in the third year when I was specialising in operations management, ASM helped me develop those financial and management skills.  

How can aspirants prepare themselves to be a part of an ever-evolving startup ecosystem?

What’s most important is to get work experience. Bookish or theoretical knowledge on finance, operations management, marketing, and consumer behaviour are important. But it’s equally necessary to adapt these theories into real-life scenarios. And that comes from work experience. Twenty years ago, when I was graduating, there was a reason why it was mandatory to have a couple of years work experience before one goes for postgraduate education. It was to understand how the business systems operate. 

Business administration knowledge is very important for any student or any young entrepreneur before they enter the business community. Moreover, finance is the lifeline of any business and so, basic knowledge on the subject is required. In today’s startup ecosystem, if you don’t know how to raise your rounds, you can’t really sustain in the business community. I always followed the case study method to learn, discussing about different companies, their crisis management or could be some kind of success or biggest failure stories. I feel it’s very important to learn about both successes and failures.   

Tips for aspirants planning to pursue a career in marketing management

From a marketer’s point of view, my advice to students who are pursuing marketing courses would be: first, always be consumer focused and think of identifying a consumers’ paint point. This will help you understand consumers’ needs. Secondly, don’t think in the now, think in the future. Hence, foresightedness and intuition play a very crucial role in designing marketing strategies. If you are able to identify the paint points of your consumers and bring out a solution, I think success would be very close. 

One more important thing is, don’t waste your time focusing on competition, rather, understand consumers’ demands and requirements. Yes, you must understand the competition, you must know the pressing points of the competition, the sales model of competition. But do not be blinded by competition. Lastly, you should know your consumer very well. You must know what consumers may expect tomorrow, and not just today.

Harshita is Assistant Editor at Apeejay newsroom. With experience in both the Media and Public Relations (PR) world, she has worked with Careers360, India Today and Value360 Communications. A learner by nature, she is a foodie, traveller and believes in having a healthy work-life balance.