‘Skinthusiasts’ need to stop running after claims like ‘fair’ and ‘flawless’: Shaily Mehrotra

Shaily Mehrotra, Founder and CEO of cosmeceutical company Fixderma, talks of its USP, brand ambassadors Vaani Kapoor and Boman Irani, investment by Lotus Herbals and resultant expansion plans

Srabana LahiriUpdated: Monday, May 16, 2022, 10:18 AM IST
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Shaily Mehrotra with Fixderma's brand ambassador Vaani Kapoor |

Please take us through your decision to foray into the ‘cosmeceutical’ space and turning entrepreneur with the launch of Fixderma in 2006. How has the D2C business evolved so far? What were the challenges you faced?

‘Dermaceutical’ has always been our expertise and domain. We are one of the most trusted manufacturers for many big brands in the market. We always felt that there is no product range that forms the perfect cusp between cosmetics and dermatology-recommended formulations. This gap was the launchpad of our decision to enter the cosmeceutical space. We launched Fixderma with a vision of providing skincare backed by science and best formulations for skin health for our customers. Our first step was to create the right need amongst the right customers. Identify the gap and ensure delivery of exactly the formula their skin needed. We went ahead with the right channel experts - dermatologists. We started with a team of three employees and today, we have more than 200 amazing people. Going D2C was a step taken to ensure no-hassle delivery of products to our customers during the lockdown. It gave us the insight that dermaceuticals were an unexplored and under-rated skincare segment. It was a challenge to spread awareness about importance of making skin healthy, rather than going for external beautification like bleach-laced products, fairness creams, etc. We are on a journey to get rid of this misconception and we have come a long way by creating awareness through various mediums like content, expert talks and knowledge-sharing.

How difficult is it to market your products, especially in a highly crowded marketplace that has MNC-backed as well as Indian beauty brands, Ayurveda brands as well as brands such as Sebamed in the same space? What is your USP?

It is indeed not easy, but our USP has been the key to our success - high quality ingredients and well-researched formulations. With our advanced research and innovation, we provide advanced skincare backed by science, and the numbers speak. Our repeat customer ratio is 35%. Our formulas are made keeping the Indian skin and weather in mind to ensure maximum benefit.

Tell us about the campaigns launched earlier this year with your brand ambassadors - #MeetYourRealSelf featuring Vaani Kapoor and #ByeByeDark Patches with Boman Irani - as well as upcoming marketing initiatives. What is your overall marketing and advertising strategy for your products, and quantum of marketing spends?

We are really happy to have Boman Irani and Vaani Kapoor on board as our brand ambassadors. Our overall strategy is to reach out to the potential customers with our brand promise - invest in your skin health, fix your skin, and meet your real self. Our hashtags are not just any marketing gimmick, but an actual promise. Vaani has always been unconventional; her roles have broken stereotypes and she has been just so real. With her, we want to reach the masses with the message ‘Embrace your real, problem free, healthy skin’. It is easy to sell products with offers, promotions, etc. But we believe in telling the ‘skinthusiasts’ out there to understand what they need and to stop running after claims like ‘fair’, ‘flawless’ etc., which will only make their skin unhealthy.

Our campaign #ByeByeDarkPatches with Boman Irani introduced consumers to symptoms of Acanthosis Nigricans, which causes dark patches. We wanted to weave a narrative around the core message through a relatable analogy wrapped in humour and couldn’t think of anyone better than Boman Irani for the role. Our intent is to trigger meaningful conversations around healthy skin. With both these campaigns, our annual marketing budget is around Rs 20 crore, with focus on Digital and OTC.

How have things changed with Lotus Herbals acquiring 32% stake in the company? Going forward, what are your expansion plans for your brands FCL and Fixderma? How do you see the domestic and global business in terms of growth and scale?

Lotus Herbals have joined hands with us as our strategic partners and we are really looking forward to grow further with them. Their brand and growth story is inspirational and we can’t wait to take FCL and Fixderma to new heights together. Apart from our brand sites, we are also available on Nykaa, Amazon, Flipkart, Myntra and Vanity Wagon. We are also scaling up our OTC market. We are expanding in the South and West. Our revenue for FY 21-22 stood at Rs 75 crore, and the targeted revenue for FY 22-23 is Rs 100 crore.

Tell us about yourself beyond the realm of work. What is one motto/principle that guides you at home and work?

Follow your passion and let nothing stop you. Of course, passion means following your dreams, but a dream can never be realised if you do not work hard to achieve it. I never draw a line in terms of where my effort should be invested. I am always on my toes to give my best and that is my driving force.

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