… much is being spent. Weddings, more lavish than ever, are poised to become a big source of revenue for the beauty and wellness industry.

The big fat Indian wedding is drawing the attention of the wellness industry. With a growing appetite for big weddings that only several lakhs of rupees can sate, beauty has come into its own, demanding its own substantial expense besides jewellery, clothes and food, among others. And feeding this demand are not just the women – metrosexual males across all tiers of urban India are equally contributing to the wellness boom.

The wedding industry in the country is pegged at over Rs 1-lakh crore, growing at 25-30 per cent on a year-on-year basis. According to Sangeeta Amladi, Head, Medical Services, Kaya Skin Clinic, while there has certainly been an increasing demand for skincare as part of pre-bridal and bridal preparation, it is very difficult to estimate its value.

A recent report by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) in association with FICCI suggests that the domestic wellness industry that includes spas, grooming and fitness products grew by 20 per cent to Rs 59,000 crore in 2011. The wellness market is likely to cross Rs 1-lakh crore by 2014, the report said. “The premium beauty segment is pegged at Rs 570 crore and this is also growing at 20 per cent year on year, which gives a good indication of how Indian brides are looking for expert solutions. Besides a proper home-care regimen, they are actively seeking beauty treatments specific to skin concerns or to even maintain and enhance beauty through various packages,” Amladi said.

While demand during the wedding season still accounts for a small percentage of the total business for most companies in the wellness industry, it, however, offers high potential for growth, industry insiders said.

According to Sandeep Ahuja, managing director, VLCC, the share of wedding packages accounts only for a small percentage of its total business but the segment has been growing at over 18 per cent.

“With weddings becoming grander affairs, particularly in the northern and western regions, the bridal industry in India is on the rise. This is not necessarily a metro phenomenon. Even in smaller towns and cities people are increasingly splurging on bridal and pre-bridal packages,” he said.

Though weddings are usually restricted to traditional and region-specific looks, an increasing number of customers are also looking to experiment and going in for the fusion look, Ahuja said.

“Earlier a wedding was merely restricted to the day of the wedding, but now there is a surge in demand for pre-wedding packages which include skin and hair treatments running over weeks or even a month, both among women and men alike,” said an industry insider.

What’s more, the surge in demand is not merely contributed by the to-be brides and grooms but also by people who attend these weddings. “People are becoming more and more image-conscious. This, coupled with the rise in disposable income and an aspiration to look and feel beautiful at social gatherings, is encouraging people to go for skin and hair care treatments prior to attending such weddings,” a beautician at a Kolkata salon said.

Dandies abound

Men are becoming more conscious about their image due to growing peer pressure. The need to look good and be presentable is resulting in the greater use by men of grooming products and services, the PwC-FICCI report said.

“Beauty services are no longer dominated by women, with branded players focusing on setting up unisex salons to target male consumers as well. Nearly 60 to 70 per cent of the branded salon market in India is unisex,” the report said.

The men’s grooming segment has been growing at nearly 40 per cent. However, it still constitutes only about 10 per cent of the overall cosmetic products market thereby leaving huge unfulfilled potential.

According to Amladi, Kaya’s range of products and services for men see a lot of demand during the wedding season.

“Laser treatments to get rid of hair have caught the fancy of male consumers. Particularly during the wedding season, we have seen a lot of men wanting facial therapies, acne treatments and hair-free services. With the sudden exposure to global beauty trends, they don’t shy away from trying different services,” she says. Ten to 12 per cent of the wedding wellness business is contributed by men, she adds. According to Kohinoor Mandal, master franchisee (West Bengal and Jharkhand), Jawed Habib Hair and Beauty Ltd, earlier wedding packages for men were restricted to mainly a haircut or facial. “Now men go in for pedicure, manicure, hair colouring, hair spa, straightening and even body spa before their weddings,” he says.

Package deals

Companies are all set to tap the surge in demand for bridal and pre-bridal packages. VLCC, for instance, has invested in gaining in-house expertise in offering such tailor-made packages to suit the taste and requirements of its customers.

“Earlier we never used to look at bridal as a revenue stream. It was primarily restricted to offering make-up on the day of the wedding. In fact, over the last couple of years, we have invested in this segment to a great extent,” Ahuja said.

The Kaya Skin Clinic offers the bride, the groom and the family step-by-step beauty packages, conducted and supervised by its team of expert dermatologists.

“We have formulated a host of customised skin care programmes ranging from 15-60 days as well as special head-to-toe bridal packages for this purpose. The services range from specific skin concerns to maintenance solutions,” says Amladi.

Head to toe the industry may have covered with its beauty treatments, but business plans for sure are still evolving. Watch this space.

(This article was published on December 20, 2012)
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