Golden opportunity: Indian beauty firm Pilgrim targets Middle East, offline retail market by end of next year

By Nurul Ain Razali

- Last updated on GMT

Pilgrim's first 24K gold line comprising oil, serum and facial mask was inspired by Korean cosmetics. [Pilgrim]
Pilgrim's first 24K gold line comprising oil, serum and facial mask was inspired by Korean cosmetics. [Pilgrim]

Related tags India Gold Middle east Pilgrim

Mumbai-based online beauty firm Pilgrim plans to execute a two-pronged expansion strategy by tapping the Middle East markets and setting up an offline presence by Q4 2023.

The strategy was introduced shortly after soft launching its first 24K gold line comprising oil, serum and facial mask inspired by Korean cosmetics a month back. Also in the pipeline are additional two gold SKUs, a cleanser and a scrub, targeted for retail by Q3 this year.

Co-founder and CEO of Pilgrim, Anurag Kedia, said the gold range’s 30,000 units have all run out. The firm is currently working to produce another 100,000 units for the three products to keep up with the demand.

“Indian consumers have always had this fascination with gold. For example, culturally, we can see them wearing gold jewellery. Subsequently, we are looking at the Middle East markets like the UAE and Saudi for our entire portfolio of products, not just the gold range, by end-2023.

“Domestically, we want to keep going deeper into the Indian market sometime in Q3 2023 and go offline by entering modern trade channels like departmental, lifestyle and beauty-specific stores. In the last two to three years, we saw an online surge, but it was also found that more than 95% of consumers still do their shopping offline. Only 5% do it online. Going offline is a way for us to get closer to the consumers,” ​said Anurag.

Founded in 2019, Pilgrim is a D2C beauty brand that claims to be vegan, cruelty-free and PETA-certified. Its 70 SKU-strong product portfolio, spanning face, hair care and body care, is US FDA-approved. Consumers can access native beauty traditions derived from three cultures – Korean, Spanish and French. The new gold line is an extension of the Korean collection.

The collections are made with ingredients and supported by research and development (R&D), partnerships and advisories from across the globe. The experts behind Pilgrim come from various countries like South Korea, France, Italy, Germany and India itself.

For its Series-A funding round, the company has raised approximately 13 crores (US$1.6m) led by Fireside Ventures, Rukam Capital and angel investors.

Golden benefits

According to Anurag, the gold line was conceptualised in 2021 and underwent six months’ worth of R&D before launching a month back. It utilises a combination of pure, food-grade 24-karat gold dust and film for the gold products.

The nanogold material acts as a vehicle to transport bioactive ingredients, resulting in instant firming and glowing of the skin. The effect is especially prominent for the gold face mask after around 20 minutes of application. The products could also act as a primer before applying make-up.

The gold range chiefly targets users aged 20 to 35, but 30% of its users are aged 35 and above. The three products retail for about 500 to 600 rupees (US$7.60) each. Gold-based products in the market usually cost around 1,000 rupees (US$12.70) per unit.

“We play the volume game and keep reasonable product pricing to reach out to as many consumers as possible. We will be introducing two to three more collections by Q4 2022 and increasing the portfolio depth and breadth. We generate formulations once every few months,”​ he said.

In conclusion, Anurag said there had been a big shift among consumers today – they are more aware of skincare and wellness. It is a healthy trend because consumers today have different sleep cycles, food, alcohol consumption and added stress compared to half a century back. Hence, more care would be needed for the skin, and they start routines younger.

“In 2023, we expect to grow two to three times bigger than what we were in 2022. For the period of May to June, we’ve grown four times year on year from 2021 to 2022 in volume and revenue. We’re in an interesting time and space in India. There’s a lot of international innovation in India. There’s a lot of excitement. The consumer range market is good and growing very well,”​ he said.

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