Blog Brand Story | India
The Brand Story of Forest Essentials
- 13th Jul 2020
The quintessential blend of modern aesthetics with ancient Ayurveda to deliver the most sensorial experience and usage is Forest Essentials. Forest Essentials goes with modern packaging and traditional scientific methods of Ayurveda and believes,
“If You Cannot Eat It, Do Not Use It on Your Skin”
Where did it all start?
In 2000, Mira Kulkarni, who loves her ‘exotic’ way of life and has been aware of the benefits of Ayurveda from the very beginning, started off the brand as her hobby which later progressed to become what it is now.
What makes it luxurious?
The delicate hands of skilled craftsmanship are what in their belief make Ayurveda a true luxury.
Their products come from a place of craftsmanship and enthusiasm, each handmade wherever possible, blended in specific proportions prescribed by the Vedas and with the most intricate attention to details. Anything that has to do with the water, forest, earth, mud, green, organic, handmade has got fantastic potential, and are tapped by them.
Beginning of Ayurveda Luxury
With Ayurved and modern biochemists, it initially started manufacturing Handmade soaps to provide the nutritive value and potency of the natural oils with old and traditional techniques. She gave it the modern touch by using lighter textures and pure essential oils as opposed to regular Ayurveda products that were messy and uncomfortable. It was personally funded by her and was being used by some friends and relatives. One of the first things she did was buy an old-fashioned oil press which, she says, no one knew how to use. All of the processes were driven by hand, including traditional pounding of herbs, pressing of oils, and rolling of incense sticks.
“At that time, there was a need for high-quality Indian skincare products. It was just the right idea at the right time,” affirms Kulkarni.
Forest essentials opened their first standalone store in Delhi’s Khan Market. Kulkarni remembers the first time the store ran out of its stock, they had to shut it down for two days to replenish
The Turning Point
In 2002, Forest Essentials received its first small institutional order from the Hyatt Regency, New Delhi. That marked a new beginning for them and now it has a curated portfolio with all naturally made products for skin and hair. In 2007, Estée Lauder loved the products, and to ensure the brand equity, identity, and operations for international expansion they picked up a 20% stake in the Indian firm, making it their first investment in India.
The Kick Start
Post liberalization, a new customer base was created, whose purchasing power and desire to get small luxuries for themselves had increased. The right time and Right idea worked for them which clicked and the 100 bucks soap became affordable for people. Kulkarni said in an interview, “the interesting thing is that a lot of the people who are buying our creams are people who were buying La Mer.” Finally, when her hobby became a brand name the brand name got attached with a lot of well-known names. The list of clients includes big hotel chains like Taj Hotels, The Oberoi Group, The Ritz Carlton, and The Four Seasons. A Lime, Tulsi, and Narangi range is specially blended for The Oberoi Group; Taj Hotels has a special aloe vera and neem range; The Marriott uses a bitter orange and cinnamon collection. Forest Essentials also supplies to the Rashtrapati Bhavan.
The Legacy of Ayurveda
They have around 70 stores in India and have been shipping products to about 120 countries worldwide. They have collaborated with brands like Harrods and Selfridges to provide in-store services in countries were standalone stores cannot be operated.
Due to the growing demand, Forest Essentials has stepped up the pace of bringing out new products and increased R&D. Earlier the company was not regular with launching new products, but now there is more pressure to keep reinventing the brand and a need for constant innovation.
The company has pumped up its R&D spends and team, which consists of Ph.D., Doctors, and Chemists who help with the formulations.
With the expansion and growing brand image, they intend to continue the whole niche to modernize Ayurveda. They continue to provide everything based on the old Ayurvedic system, tweaked in a modern form.
Revenue and Competition
Forest Essentials (Mountain Valley Springs) posted revenues of Rs 177 crore, Rs 40 crore more than in FY2017, and a net profit of Rs 44.95 crore in 2018, up from Rs 32.55 crore, according to RoC data. With just the skincare market in India estimated at $1.8 billion, Forest Essentials has expanded beyond the metros to open shops in smaller cities like Indore, Bhubaneswar, Lucknow, and Kochi. It has thrived despite stiff competition in India’s around $4 billion Ayurvedic cosmetics market with newer players like Kama Ayurveda grabbing market share. Recently a Spanish fashion and fragrance company invested ₹100 crores for a minority stake in the Kama.
Korean brands like Innisfree have established themselves in the global skincare market, touted to be worth close to $220 billion by 2025.
The competition will not be easy, there are a lot of brands selling similar products and obviously customers are spoilt for choice but Forest essential is unfazed.