You Cannot Build A Category Without Being Experiential: Sukhleen Aneja, The Good Glamm Group

In an exclusive chat with Everything Experiential, Sukhleen Aneja, CEO, Good Brands, GoodGlamm Group outlines The Good Glamm Group’s journey, its strategy behind roping in various celebrities as investors and brand ambassadors, Good Glamm Group’s experiential marketing strategy and more


The Good Glamm Group has been at the forefront of acquisitions, brand associations, getting celebrity investors and brand ambassadors on board, and more. And undoubtedly, experiential marketing has been at the core for it, in more ways than one. Good Brands has one of the largest portfolios of D2C beauty and personal care brands with market leading brands across makeup, skincare, haircare, bath/body, mom & baby and intimate hygiene.

In an exclusive chat with Everything Experiential, Sukhleen Aneja, CEO, Good Brands, GoodGlamm Group outlines The Good Glamm Group’s journey, its strategy behind roping in various celebrities as investors and brand ambassadors, Good Glamm Group’s experiential marketing strategy and more.

Edited excerpts:

How do you see The Good Glamm Group’s journey, and especially the transformation of The Good Glamm Group in terms of its acquisitions, brand portfolios etc?

I think it's been very fascinating. See, I've done two decades of being in an MNC, from that to now switching to a company which is moving from being a start-up to a more mature company.

I think the journey has been full of learnings, and it's been very rewarding as well, because you see so much action, which you probably don't see in so many years. This happened in few months.

We've been through five strategic acquisitions. We've perhaps evaluated 20 companies, of which five finally came through. So a lot of time goes into due diligence and work behind the scenes as you evaluate organisations. Then, of course, once you bring in acquisitions, how you integrate the teams, how you bring people together, how you work closely with the founders so that you don't lose the founder's mentality and that USP, which made those brands come that far. It requires a lot of bringing together of people and also not losing of what you call as a grain of what made that brand come alive, because all these are insurgent brands and you don't want to lose that founder's touch even as you take it forward.

And, of course, the essence might evolve. If you look at MyGlamm, it started its journey in a way where it was a brand that was young, that was bringing in very innovative products to us, creating a very sharp positioning saying that MyGlamm has glamour in its purpose, and we would like you to glam-up like a star. That's a very clear positioning statement. A lot of the brands actually went through repositioning as well. In the last two years, 100 per cent of the portfolio has been refreshed, it has new packaging, new innovations on the brand. The positioning has been sharpened.

The Moms Co was a brand that was Australia certified, made safe. We sharpened the positioning to call it for every mom's changing needs. This gave a brand a very clear purpose and a reason to exist – the same way we've done on Sirona. Sirona is a pioneering brand - it's been amazing at being able to create new segments. So we thought how do we leverage Sirona and give the brand a higher purpose? That's where we came up with Sirona - Breaking Taboos.

Organic Harvest is probably India's only certified organic brand. So it's 100 per cent American certified, or a brand like St. Botanica, which brings in probably the world's finest ingredients in India at a price point that's accessible.

So a lot of that work in terms of brand repositioning, sharpening the portfolio, creating an innovation funnel, repackaging the brand was the work that happened on the assortment front. So there is part one, which is people integration and business integration.

Part two is a business transformation where you transform the brands. And I think a strategic part three was actually to bring into our business functions that are critical for a mature business, whether it's SAP.

I'm very proud to say that from the month I joined is the first month in which I presented to the board on the need for SAP. And in literally 14 months from then, 100 per cent of the organisation today is on data enabled and is on SAP.

It may seem like a small point, but these are things which are the backbone of a good organisation, because fundamentally, today, e-commerce companies are dealing with a war for supply chain.

So to that extent, that needs to be one of your strengths. Are we perfect? No. Do we still have a big gap to cover? Yes. Can our fill rates be better? Can our own execution in the market be better? Can our brand building be more superior? 100 per cent. But I think on a journey, setting up a team that can come together to create some of this, I think has been a pretty rewarding journey.

Your collaborations with the stars has been quite a starry affair – what has been your strategy behind roping in various celebrities as investors and brand ambassadors? How does their contribution as an investor stimulate the brands?

Fundamentally, a lot of these celebrities are extremely creative people on the face of it, but are behind the scenes. They're also very astute and competent business people.

The very fact that they've been able to create an empire is not just their creative talent, but also a very strong financial mind and a strong commercial mind. So with many of the celebrities, we've been able to find the synergy to be able to co-create a business together. And, that's where we see value of a celebrity being able to be a co-investor or a co-founder.

The advantage that he has is far greater in the game because his own money has a chance of doubling or tripling. They get equity from the parent company, which is what makes it very attractive for them. Because today, look at the success story a Katrina and Alia experienced with. So that has actually paved the way for many other celebrities to step.

Priyanka Gill's recent new role as chairperson of Good Media – what is the idea behind this new role?

On a personal side, I'm actually extremely ecstatic about what Priyanka is going to be doing. She's joining one of the investors as a venture partner. She's going to always have her eyes on the business. And she's built a very competent team that continues to run the business. She continues to be on the board and continues to be the co-founder of the business.

I think she's built a fantastic relationship with many stakeholders here. So I think we will all continue to benefit with her understanding. But I think with her moving to the venture side, it also paves the way for interesting collaborations and revenue opportunities that come up eventually. I think it's a win-win for all stakeholders.

The recent collaborations with Karan Johar for a line of cosmetics and also tying with Dharma Productions - what does this partnership entail? What kind of synergies do you'll bring to the table?

We are today a very large brand business, but also a very large social media company. So with respect to Dharma, I think the amazing opportunity for us is that Karan has been a trendsetter.

He's always been at the forefront of creating new trends. So we're able to seed our brands into the pop culture. So, example, with Rocky Aur Rani Kii Prem Kahaani, we had MyGlamm as their make-up partner. So, like, 100 per cent of thermal movies that come out in the next three years will have a brand partnership coming forward from our brand portfolio.

That's where brands benefit because cinema is consumed very differently from advertising. And on their side, they are co-creating a product with us. So the entire business of the make-up range is a co-creation between Dharma and us. With Karan being at the forefront, then we also have a large part of the promotions for these movies get taken care by us. So on the social side of the Rocky Aur Rani Kii Prem Kahaani releases or any other subsequent releases come, we have a large media company that can help in popularising those movies. So it becomes a fascinating win.

Beauty, cosmetics and personal care brands, have been on the experiential forefront since a long while. What is The Good Glamm Group’s experiential marketing strategy?

For make-up as a category, you cannot build a category without being experienced, without being experiential.

We are present between general trade and modern trade, where makeup is being retailed through shop-in-shop. We also have a strategic partnership with Shoppers Stop where they are working very closely with us, which is why Pout was an exclusive, where we have all our brands being pushed by Shoppers Stop in the omnichannel - online and offline. That's how we intend to build it.

When it comes to consumer engagement and consumer experiences, how do you look at as brand enhancement and innovations? 

There are two parts to the story. Part one, is very clearly the part linked to engagement, which is why we did integrations with shows like Koffee With Karan, the title sponsors of Bigg Boss, and we gamified the experience. It was not just about being a sponsor. Today, MyGlamm is India's largest online makeup brand. We have a humongous base of transaction consumers, almost 25 million people.

In that regard, it becomes extremely helpful that we are able to gamify the whole experience where people are able to engage with us, find the brand, vote. So just to give you an example, on Bigg Boss, we actually had the winner be selected through the experience of selecting on your app.

So we did the MyGlamm Face. And incidentally, the winner was the same as the Bigg Boss winner, which was Priyanka.

But the fact that you can gamify a lot of those experiences online becomes very interesting. That takes care of the engagement piece.

And when it comes to product innovation, I think for any insurgent brand today, you have to be at the forefront. We launched last year a very innovative product called Super Serum. Now that was a product that combined SPF 50 with the BB cream. Now, there is no BB cream in India which was giving you SPF 50. So then that becomes a game changer.

When it comes to product innovation, even in the way we launched Pout, it was all on social. It was along with Karan. It was a full guerrilla marketing campaign with all the paps capturing women wearing sweatshirts.

I saw that the whole idea was to do things differently. If a start-up starts waving like a large company, spends like a large company, eventually it's going to be a big struggle to survive. So, if you are an insurgent brand, you also have to do things very differently.

Traditional, digital, experiential - how do you see the allotment for The Good Glamm Group’s media mix?

Last year, I think we had a fairly large weight behind traditional as well, which is why we did all these media partnerships. This year has been very focused on driving profitability with the norm in the industry.

Even that, I think we've become very frugal with respect to spends and we are trying to maximise, given our strengths. So our strength is in content - it's in creative, it's in social.

That is what we are maximising. Experience continues to be an asset because we do have an offline business. So that continues to grow.

In terms of technology integration, we see AR, VR AI, also from the experiential point of view and when it comes to building experiences, customer experiences, how do we see that for The Good Glamm Group? 

On the customer experience front, to keep it very straightforward, we have multiple experiments that are happening. So the greatest strength for us is our investment in tech.

We are a tech first company. It's a consumer tech company, social, D2C. We've automated. On the product side, we're 100 per cent SAP enabled.

Then with respect to AI coming in, I think we are now using AI extensively on both social side as well as on creative side for creative optimisation and doing everywhere where anything has to be done with speed. But there isn't any original work that is required to be created. So that's getting integrated. So these are some key projects where AI is already. And of course, we also have an AI chatbot, even in a function like HR.

I think AI is creeping into all aspects. Whatever you say, AI is unavoidable now.

I think it's just reality and just accepting it to be more than AI. What I really feel organisations benefit from is automation. Because that's how you're able to optimise cost.

In terms of trends in the beauty, cosmetics and personal care for industry in 2024, what do you see being or becoming big in 2024?

I think on skincare, I would say consumers are definitely choosing functional benefits even more.

Derma ingredient efficacy. Clean, transparent products are here to stay. In the post Covid world, that's what consumers want.

On the makeup, etc side, I would say consumers are choosing clean again. They are wanting formulations which have a lot of skincare benefits. And I think, for instance, whether a lot of things have changed.

Mattes continue to be big, but glossy is back again. And people are definitely wanting to step out more. So with stepping out, a lot of colour gets experimented upon.

Weddings are back, parties are back. So I genuinely believe makeup will be back again. And I also think there is going to be a new trend around even men picking up products which are gender agnostic, like tired eyes require a concealer. It's not a woman's problem alone. We are sleeping less.

So I think a lot of those products which are gender can be gender agnostic, but can be helping you be a better version of yourself.

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