16 Nov 2021

Indian Beauty: Where the new world and old world are harmonising

Personal beauty has always been an intrinsic part of Indian culture and the lives of Indian women. Rituals based on traditional practices – such as applying coconut oil to the hair or DIY remedies for fairer skin – are part of the journey from girlhood to womanhood, creating emotional bonds that span generations.

However, exposure to western trends are radically changing the views of Indian female Millennials and Gen Zs. A fascination with fairer skin is being superseded by a desire for skin protection as part of a more holistic idea of self-worth. The supposed magic of certain ancient remedies is being challenged by a demand for clinical information and quantifiable ‘reasons to believe.’ So, the key question is, beyond their own mothers and grandmothers, who are younger Indian women now choosing to trust?

In a world of media manipulations and unsubstantiated claims, widespread distrust exists towards public figures and corporations alike. Suspicion is the almost default position from which consumers need coaxing. This leads to a deafening internal debate in all of us, between the illogical “feeling” brain and the logical “thinking” brain. So when it comes to choosing the right brand (or the right political leader) who wins ? The feeling brain that follows beliefs or the thinking brain that follows the facts?

The answer needn’t be X or Y. Our state of wellbeing is arguably strongest when our feeling and thinking brains are in tune. And we can align them when we embrace and reconcile what seems like an irreconcilable opposite. A tension.

So back to beauty in India. Perhaps this is the perfect cultural environment in which certain tensions can be beautifully resolved. Organic skincare brands are perfectly aligning the feeling and thinking brains of millennial and Gen Z women, promising the healing power of the natural world, backed up by emphatic claims of the scientific world. Old meets new, feelings meet data, mythology meets proof in a sub-category that’s growing at a staggering rate of around 25% year on year.

With a hub in Mumbai we have worked on multiple personal care and beauty brands, all with their own tensions to reconcile. ITC’s Charmis is worth a particular mention. Having acquired the brand from Colgate, ITC approached us to help turn the brand around and accelerate it to new heights. This moisturising cold cream was once the market leader and a brand of status, yet was starting to show its age and struggling to resonate with a younger audience.

By embracing the traditions of the past and the mindset of modern Indian women we reimagined the brand as timeless yet contemporary. A brand fit for women of all ages, connecting each and every one of them to the best of yesteryear whilst inviting them to confidently walk into the future. Charmis helped younger women see “life as a remix”.

Last year, the brand reapproached bluemarlin for the launch of their youthful new range – Charmis Deep Radiance – extending Charmis’ proposition to the younger audience.

Embracing tensions has long been a fundamental part of our strategic process. We’d love to help you identify and reconcile the tensions within your brands or your business, turning what might seem like opposing forces into a platform for ideation and brand acceleration.