The founder of SUGAR cosmetics explains how the startup clocked a 60% growth in sales during the pandemic

The founder of SUGAR cosmetics explains how the startup clocked a 60% growth in sales during the pandemic
Vineeta Singh - CEO, SUGAR CosmeticsSUGAR Cosmetics
  • From a complete halt in sales in April and May, SUGAR has now closed November with its highest sales ever.
  • Vineeta Singh, the co-founder and CEO of SUGAR cosmetics, shares how the brand managed to beat its own estimates and bounced back.
  • SUGAR went ahead and added more physical stores to its count. In fact, from 1000 retail footprint last year, they are now at 2500.
  • Singh is charting ambitious plans for the next five-six years; she intends to grow to ₹500 crore net revenue.
Indian cosmetics brand SUGAR competes with established brands like L’oreal and Lakme, but the eight-year old startup has managed to find its footing in the beauty industry. At a time when most retail and e-commerce companies are still figuring ways to deal with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, SUGAR has managed to grow by 60% from its pre-lockdown numbers.

Vineeta Singh, the co-founder and CEO of SUGAR cosmetics, shares how the brand managed to beat its own estimates and bounced back. “November was in fact one of the most fantastic months for us. We sold ₹24 crore worth products to the end consumer, which is by far our highest number and 50% of it came from retail, which was a big surprise,” Singh told Business Insider in an interview.

The founder of SUGAR cosmetics explains how the startup clocked a 60% growth in sales during the pandemic
BI India

Here’s how the company got to these numbers
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Store expansion during a pandemic

When the lockdown began in March, Singh said they were actually in the midst of making glorious plans for FY21. “In FY20, we had hit the ₹100 crore net revenue number. For us, it was more psychological that we can’t go under ₹100 crore. But there came a point when we were unsure, as April and May were very hard. As a company, we have always been close to breakeven and have been very conscious of our bottomline, but in the first quarter of FY21 we saw a loss of ₹5 crore, and we knew we had to bounce back,” she said.

The impact was bigger as 60% of their revenue came from retail outlets. So, the team rallied to a target of net revenue of at least ₹5 crore in June, during unlock 1.0. “The entire retail team figured out a way to make themselves available for e-commerce sales. And then, in June we did ₹6 crore in net revenue. That’s when we thought we had a chance of reclaiming the year,” she said.

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When most retailers were cutting down on their footprint, SUGAR went ahead and added more physical stores to its count. In fact, from 1000 retail footprint last year, they are now at 2500. And for Singh, this was a strategic move they couldn’t have missed out on. “We knew we had to invest more. Because we increased our footprint before the festive season, we were able to garner the seasonal traffic,” she said.

And now, the company is expecting a 40% jump in net revenue by the end of FY21. Singh is charting ambitious plans for the next five-six years, she intends to grow to ₹500 crore net revenue.

The founder of SUGAR cosmetics explains how the startup clocked a 60% growth in sales during the pandemic
BI India

Capitalizing on social media for sales

One of the biggest things SUGAR capitalized on is social media. Singh shares that they realised quite early that consumers were spending more time on their devices and were interacting more with their content on social media. “We took this as an opportunity to increase our prominence on social media. Before lockdown, we were getting 100 million odd monthly impressions and now that has gone up to about 240 million. We just hit 1 million on Instagram, our own app has more than 800,000 downloads,” she shared.
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This drive on social media helped them increase their mindshare between consumers both online as well as at their retail outlets.

While the company has distributors in the US and Russia, they remain focussed on the India market.

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