The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Perfect skin is Calcutta’s preference

A glowing complexion is the most important part of the beauty regimen for Calcutta’s women. And belles from Bengal and the Northeast are most likely to stay loyal to the old name in Indian beauty products, Lakme.

The market leader in cosmetics and skincare products has consistently seen the highest demand from the east, at “between 31 and 32 per cent” of its national sales. While Calcutta equals Delhi in demand, the preferences differ, with this city’s hottest-selling item being Lakme’s Maximum Moisturiser, while the Capital leans towards cosmetics.

“Women in Calcutta are more concerned about the quality of skin than those in other parts of the country,” says Anil Chopra, business head, Lakme Lever. Nationally, the highest selling product is nail polish. “Possibly, since wearing make-up is not smiled upon by all, nail polish is seen as less offensive, as it is not on the face,” adds Chopra, in the city on Wednesday.

Instead of concentrating on mass media, the marketing mix will pamper Calcutta through local events and promotions. In line with this change in strategy, the company is backing Style File, a fashion show at the ITC Sonar Bangla on Saturday, to showcase the works of designers including Sabyasachi Mukherjee, Rina Dhaka, Anju Modi, Priyadarshini Rao and Manish Arora.

While around 50 Lakme Beauty Salons have come up in other parts of the country, the brand that allows “a captive audience with consumers”, has not yet ventured into this segment in Calcutta for logistical reasons. While 2004 should see the first such beauty salon or more upmarket “studio” in the city, for the next few days, beauty experts Zarina Godrej and Shobha Sehgal will be available at Shoppers’ Stop, Pantaloons and Westside for free consultations.

According to Chopra, Lakme and Elle 18 (both under the Hindustan Lever banner) command “50 per cent” of the cosmetics market, while Elle 18, with its affordable range of nail enamel, lipstick and eye-liner, contributes “15 per cent” to Lakme-Elle 18 sales.

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