INTERVIEW | We have a lot to do in India: Mamaearth co-founder Ghazal Alagh

CE chats with Ghazal Alagh, Chief Innovation Officer and co-founder, of Mamaearth, as she launches the first flagship store in Hyderabad.
Ghazal Alagh
Ghazal Alagh

HYDERABAD: The busy L&T Mall, Punjagutta came to a halt when Mamaearth, one of India’s most popular natural and organic skincare firms, with a revenue of Rs 9.4 billion in FY 2022, inaugurated its flagship store in the city. In an interaction with CE, Ghazal Alagh shared her thoughts on the expansion of Mamaearth in Hyderabad and the journey so far.

What made you decide to extend Mamaearth’s presence to Hyderabad?

Hyderabad is a city of interest to us and we have influencers based out of Hyderabad. The immense love we receive online makes it a natural choice to open an exclusive store to interact with consumers and gather feedback. The store focuses on best-selling products, such as serums and moisturisers and recently launched products like colour care. 

What was the inspiration behind Mamaearth?

It all started with my first son, Agasthya, back in 2014. I was looking for certified, safe, natural, toxin-free products. There were no such baby products back then that were safe to be used on babies. The ingredients that are used in baby care products are banned in most countries. I didn’t understand why India was extensively using some of these ingredients. Later, I realised India doesn’t have any regulations and you can put anything in baby products. The same ingredients are used in adult products as well, but there is a difference between newborn skin and adult skin. That’s when we decided that if no brands are taking the initiative and no regulations are coming, let’s take a step forward and educate consumers by differentiating good and bad ingredients. Thus we launched Mamaearth’s baby care products and now we have a wide range of products, but ‘certified safety’ is its core value.

Could you elaborate on your journey?

My journey with Mamaearth started in December 2016 with its launch exclusively on Amazon with just six babycare products. Back then, we were not aware of the size of the market or how strongly it would grow. The only thing we had in mind as parents was to help fellow parents. We were trying to solve little problems, like the fact that there were no proper baby sunscreens and we came up with a mineral sunscreen. Like that, we ended up becoming Amazon’s best-seller in just three months of the launch. 

Are your products pregnancy-safe?

The core composition is toxin-free. We most extensively use natural ingredients, but we also use a few good-quality chemical ingredients to increase the performance of the product. For example, we use preservatives, which are used in food to increase shelf life. So they are safe to use by pregnant women and if there are certain ingredients that are not good for pregnant women, we clearly mention them on the product.

How does the brand ensure its products and operations align with environment-friendly practices?

We partner with Made Safe, a non-profit organisation, to ensure product safety for humans and the environment. Our products contain only safe ingredients, minimising harmful substances for marine life and the environment. We recycle twice as much plastic as we use, and our vision is to create Mamaearth forests nationwide within the next decade.

What strategies has Mamaearth employed to stand out from the competition for natural and organic products?

Mamaearth stands out in the skincare industry by listening to Indian consumers and incorporating their traditions. Unlike other brands, we use indigenous ingredients, such as ubtan-infused products for wedding ceremonies, onion shampoo, and multani mitti, which are available-to-use and ready-to-use formats. This unique approach sets us apart from competitors.

Many young girls are after Korean skincare these days. How does Mamaearth cope with that?

Mamaearth has a different proposition. Korean skincare is a hydration-based practice. We have this other brand called Aqualogica, which is based on Korean skin care. So all the products that you find there are deeply hydrating. Mamaearth is ingredient-based.

How important is customer feedback for shaping its products and business decisions?

We listen to our customers, by actively seeking feedback. The organisation calls 30-35 customers every quarter to understand their feedback on products. This value has remained, with a focus on two-way communication and addressing negative feedback to ensure customer satisfaction.

How does Mamaearth continue to innovate and adapt to changing trends in the beauty and personal care industries?

The Indian beauty and personal care landscape is rapidly evolving due to increased income and women’s participation in work. Mamaearth is aiming to capitalise on this growth by focusing on consumer needs and offering high-quality ingredients. Our innovation strategy is data-linked, combining science and nature to create products without compromising product performance.

Future plans?

Beauty and personal care are rapidly increasing segments of the FMCG market and we are represented by six brands in our portfolio. The company aims to be the top choice for customers, offering diverse options through various brands. If there is a gap between categories, the company is open to building new brands. India is still a focus market for us. We are present in almost every pin code, and we have so much to do here. Internationally, we are getting a lot of inbound interest and we are already present in almost 23 other countries, but those are not focused. We supply as per inbound interest. Going forward, we would like to expand our footprints internationally by picking two or three countries that are of interest to us. However,  for the next two years, we have a lot to do in India.

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