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What Pandemic Means to The Future of Indonesian Beauty Tech

Giving space for a new beauty brands

Corry Anestia - 8 September 2020

In 2019, the former Minister of Communication and Information, Rudiantara, mentioned that the beauty tech industry would be one of the prima donna in the Indonesian digital economy market.

This is partly due to the beauty and personal care industry that has captured a lot of attention from startups in the last few years. The power of e-commerce in Indonesia opens up opportunities in various new business verticals and this is one of those.

Based on the Euromonitor report, the beauty market value in Indonesia was estimated to reach $8.46 billion in 2022, up from the estimated value in 2019 of $6.03 billion. However, will this forecast remain valid given the unexpected health crisis that emerged in early 2020?

DailySocial interviewed some beauty tech players and VC actors to find out about future trends in the beauty industry.

The rise of beauty tech in Indonesia

Beauty tech is defined as a new model for the beauty industry players in reaching consumers. Its business model is no longer focused on conventional distribution channels but combines the strengths of technology and digital.

In Indonesia, the term beauty tech cannot be separated from the emergence of Sociolla in 2015. Its founders, namely John Rasjid, Christopher Madiam, and Chrisanti Indiana, developed a platform that can connect consumers with various kinds of beauty brands. Sociolla may be the only beauty e-commerce platform that has been able to survive and develop until now.

Long before this term became popular, the Female Daily Network (FDN) had appeared and can be said to be the pioneer of the Indonesian beauty tech industry. FDN started as a personal blog about beauty content founded by Hanifa Ambadar and Affi Assegaf in 2005. At that time the penetration of the internet and technology was not as massive as it is now.

Over the past 15 years, FDN has transformed into a platform for beauty junkies to gather. FDN has a strong community base in Indonesia thanks to a rating system that allows anyone to review products from various brands. In fact, FDN is now starting to monetize its business through the Beauty Studio e-commerce platform.

For Co-founder and CEO of Female Daily Network Hanifa Ambadar, the development of beauty tech can accelerate the dissemination of information on beauty products. This means that beauty brands have the opportunity to get the spotlight from a wider audience. Technology actually makes it easier for them to understand the needs of consumers for their products.

“The voice of consumers can not only be used for the next product development, but also to read the tastes and maneuvers of competitors, and to design marketing campaigns,” Hanifa said in the #SelasaStartup session some time ago.

FDN and Sociolla are two clear examples of how technology is changing the beauty industry and becoming a promising business for Indonesia’s digital industry. FDN has received investment injections from several well-known venture capitals (VC), namely Ideosource, Sinar Mas Digital Ventures, and Convergence Ventures. Now, FDN has been acquired by CT Corp, which oversees Trans Media (Detikcom, CNN Indonesia, and CNBC Indonesia).

Last July, Sociolla secured $58 million in Series E funding from Temasek, Pavilion Capital, and Jungle Ventures. Meanwhile, East Ventures was also involved in funding the previous series. Crunchbase data records that the total funding raised by Sociolla from 2015 to date has reached $110 million.

The growth of the beauty industry doesn’t stop there. Ease of access to technology and digital platforms in Indonesia also contributes to the birth of new beauty brands in the country. Some of them, such as Rose All Day and Base, use a Direct-To-Consumer (DTC) approach to reach consumers.

Their appearance marks the positive market enthusiasm for beauty products. Market behavior changes. Information dissemination and product marketing are easier to do with the support of digital platforms.

Pandemic changes consumer behavior

The digital economy is predicted to be a sector that will contribute greatly to the Indonesian economy. However, with the current Covid-19 pandemic situation, what does this mean for the beauty tech industry in Indonesia?

According to Sociolla’s Co-founder and CMO Chrisanti Indiana, the pandemic will certainly change the trend of the beauty industry. Over the past six months, Sociolla discovered three new trends. First, the pandemic is driving an increasing trend of online shopping for beauty and personal care products.

Second, users inevitably take advantage of digital channels to buy beauty products. Third, the Work From Home (WFH) policies in many companies motivate people to take care of themselves.

Quoting Analytic Data Advertising (ADA), online shopping activities in Indonesia skyrocketed to 400 percent due to the pandemic in March 2020. Bank Indonesia said the number of e-commerce transactions since March 2020 reached 98.3 million transactions. Meanwhile, the total value of e-commerce transactions increased by 9.9 percent to IDR 20.7 trillion in the same period compared to February 2020.

Referring to the three findings above, Chrisanti said that the beauty sector still has stable growth going forward. In fact, she said that this sector has been a sector that has survived the pandemic era for the past six months.

“There are indeed changes in behavior and consumption, trends in make-up, and health protocols. However, [changes in behavior] actually strengthen the beauty industry in today’s difficult situation. Please note, self-care is a basic human need. We are optimistic that the beauty industry has great potential to grow.” in the future,” she told DailySocial.

Pandemic encourages local brands with DTC approach

As mentioned earlier, the development of the digital ecosystem has also contributed to the growth of new businesses in Indonesia. A number of domestic beauty brands are using the DTC approach to reach consumers easily and efficiently.

In terms of Base, for example, the brand was founded in 2019 and currently relying only on product marketing through the website. Meanwhile, the Rose All Day brand only relies on the marketplace as the front-end of online sales, such as Tokopedia and Shopee.

Generation Z and the millennial segment who are increasingly attached to the seamless lifestyle are considered to be reasons for some of the local brands to adopt this model. Moreover, physical stores are considered no longer relevant for this segment, considering that information and product availability can be accessed anytime and anywhere.

In a time of pandemic, the mushrooming trend of new brands is predicted to continue. The pandemic has indeed limited all kinds of offline activities. However, this can be an opportunity for the emergence of other new brands that apply a similar business model.

“Currently, marketing activities not only owned by big brands and existing players but also young and aspiring brands. For us, new trends will exist and are built on the presence of new brands that are established because of the digital ecosystem. This will continue to shape the beauty industry in Indonesia,” Chrisanti said.

Base’s CEO, Yaumi Fauziah Sugiharta assessed that Indonesia has a great opportunity to push the domestic beauty market. Especially if you look at the fact that Indonesian consumers are one of the big markets for beauty products in Asia, such as South Korea and Japan.

“Indonesia is one of the largest markets for beauty products in East Asia, for K-Beauty and J-Beauty. About 15 years ago, not many people used these types of products for several reasons; availability and distribution. Therefore, we see that Indonesia has the opportunity to boost penetration of local brands in the region. We have many international standard cosmetic manufacturers,” she explained.

Although this trend will trigger fierce competition, Yaumi believes that it will open up opportunities for consumers that local brands have the ability to create good quality products.

Challenges in the beauty tech

Behind the optimism of local brand growth, Hanifa emphasized that this is also a challenge. He acknowledged that the online platform provides wider access to information on beauty products.

However, consumers have the potential to be easily “distracted” and switch to another brand if they do not have a strong differentiating factor.

“Without it, people will no longer stay only on one website because there are more sources of ‘distraction’. Reflecting on this, we want to become an integrated ecosystem for beauty products,” she added.

Meanwhile, Yaumi sees her business model is having a competitive advantage during the pandemic. Base is positioned as a digitally native vertical brand (DNVB) whose main sales channel is online. Furthermore, a seamless shopping experience becomes big homework for the company.

“Because most consumers are currently not fully mobilized, this has triggered a shift in consumer behavior to shop online. For DNVB like Base, we must ensure that we can provide a seamless shopping experience on all channels, not only the website but also the communication channel,” he said.

Beauty tech optimism in the eye of investors

 

From an investor’s point of view, East Ventures (EV) Partner Melisa Irene sees several findings to validate the optimism of Indonesia’s beauty tech business in the pandemic era.

Based on its track record, EV is one of the VCs with great interest in this sector. Sociolla is the first EV portfolio in the beauty tech sector. In line with Sociolla’s growth and strong position in this sector, EV continues to invest in new DTC brands, namely Base (2019) and Nusantics (2020).

Returning to the matter of findings, Melisa believes her DTC portfolio will grow in the pandemic era. According to him, e-commerce is beneficial for DTC players due to the increasing trend of user screen time during WFH. A number of businesses have also started shifting sales from offline to online. This opens up opportunities for brands to reach receptive consumers.

“In addition, another opportunity is for many brands to diversify their products to meet consumer’s demand during a pandemic. Beauty products are easy to consume. As the industry matures, they have the opportunity to provide a strong shopping experience, especially from wellness/health products,” she said to DailySocial.

No wonder some of the existing and local brands are busy releasing sanitizer and mask products, two health products that have been highly sought after during the pandemic in the last few months.


Original article is in Indonesian, translated by Kristin Siagian

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