MUMBAI — Jo Malone London has set up shop in the Indian market, driven by the conviction that an ingredient-based, personalized fragrance concept will resonate, not only here but across Asia and the Middle East. The Estée Lauder-owned brand recently opened its first Indian store in the Palladium mall in Mumbai. Another opening is expected to soon follow in New Delhi.
“It’s going to be more than one store a year,” asserted Jean-Guillaume Trottier, global brand president of Jo Malone London, during an exclusive interview.
His confidence was boosted by the growth of India’s market and the brand’s track record in other emerging markets, some of which are not known for strong fragrance demand. In India, the $12.5 billion beauty and personal-care market has been growing at a double-digit rate for the last five years, with premium fragrances chalking up a 170.7 percent leap from 2011 to 2016, and other categories also growing at high double digits, according to data from Euromonitor International. “In India, we are obviously selling fragrance, our core business. But let’s not underestimate the home category, which seems to be very strong, and also body care,” Trottier said. “[Jo Malone] is a lifestyle brand and India is a lifestyle country,” he observed.
Opportunity can pose dangers. MAC Cosmetics, another powerhouse owned by Estée Lauder, is one of the few brands that has had enormous success. There have been hardly any fragrance-led stand-alone stores in the premium market in India. Many brands have learned the hard way that the geographically and ethnically diverse Indian market needs careful handling. “The Indian middle class is becoming more wealthy and it is making sense from a business perspective to be there now,” he said. “Also for the makeup category everyone wants to go to India. For fragrance, international brands are in India and some of them are struggling. But our approach, clearly focusing on ingredients so that you can really smell the ingredient in every fragrance works for the Indian customer who is very ingredient oriented,” Trottier said. Customs are changing fast, with Indians showing a growing inclination to spend more on premium products as well as experimenting with more beauty brands, according to market analysts.
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“Our Indian customers are interested in the floral scents, and our head of fragrance is spending a lot of time in India,” Trottier said. “Opening the store is just one way of making sure we have the right product offering.” He also noted the all-important bridal category as well as the gifting market could not be ignored. “So we are coming not only as a fragrance brand but as a scented lifestyle brand and also a dimension on gifting.”
The Jo Malone store, on the first floor of the Palladium mall, is one among several beauty brands in the mall, including Lauder’s Clinique, the Estée Lauder brand, MAC and Bobbi Brown.
Trottier, known for his sharp business acumen, has maintained a strong belief in emerging markets, during his four years as general manager of the brand and his tenure as global brand president since 2016. His agenda features a strong vision of global growth, which has been fueled by playing up the ingredient card and emphasizing the brand’s British individuality.
“It is true that all the emerging markets are critical for the brand because many of them are untapped fragrance opportunities, not only for Jo but for many [others],” Trottier said. “When we opened in China — you know it is not known as a big fragrance market — [but] the quality and the architecture of our fragrance base was super-important for China. Also, what has resonated well has been our Britishness, because we are authoring a different approach to fine perfumery for the world.”
As for other emerging markets, “I think today our business with emerging markets is growing extremely fast — apart from China—we also have a very good momentum in Middle East; Russia is also a very good market,” he said, adding that growth is also coming from Malone’s heritage markets.