NEW DELHI — For the first time in India, and only for the second time in Asia, The Body Shop has named a brand ambassador, Bollywood actress Dia Mirza.

This story first appeared in the May 10, 2011 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

“India is one of the fastest growing markets for The Body Shop. To reach out to new customers, we are adapting ourselves in every way ethically possible,” said David Smith, Asia Pacific managing director. The celebrity brand ambassador concept was introduced in Korea last year, where a couple was chosen to represent the brand, whom Smith describes as “very edgy” and extremely representative of the brand. Estella Lau, the Asia Pacific franchise director for The Body Shop, added, “We are careful not to have just a pretty face. We like to see that they have Body Shop personality as well.”

Mirza will also be part of a new, wider ranging marketing program to be launched in June in print. The Body Shop also plans to take the campaign with her to TV for the first time.

The skin care market in India is estimated by industry sources at approximately $1.12 billion.

“It was a long search for us to find the right representative,” said Shriti Malhotra, chief operating officer of The Body Shop India, which is a franchise operation with Quest Retail Ltd. Quest has been making a considerable investment in developing the brand since it was launched five years ago. It now has more than 65 stores operating in 25 Indian cities, a faster rate of growth than any other beauty brand has managed to achieve in India.

Dia’s endorsement for The Body Shop starts with the Moisture White Shiso range — a specialist collection of whitening products. As in many other parts of Asia, the fairness complexion market is one of the fastest growing, with more than 50 percent of skin care focused on whitening and fairness. Hindustan Unilever’s Fair & Lovely product is the market leader in the fairness segment, which was estimated to be worth an approximate $500 million in 2010, according to A.C. Nielsen, and growing at more than 30 percent a year.

Smith added that the whitening range, with its ingredient of shiso, was one of the fast movers in Asia. “We’re in a phase now where we are planning and building for the future,” he said, adding that India was one of the company’s fastest growing markets, with plans to have 150 stores by 2014.

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