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Monday 08, May 2017 by Jessica Combes

Beauty by botany


Rahul Agarwal left his career as an accountant to enter the personal care industry with a reasonably priced product, despite warnings of stiff competition from his detractors.


span lang="EN-GB">Launched in Dubai in 2015, organic skincare line hailing from India, Organic Harvest, is part of a three-  tier FMCG distribution model where the products are sold to a local distributor and distributed across retail channels throughout the UAE, according to Rahul Agarwal, CEO, Organic Harvest. “Dubai is a prestigious place to be present; it has a mix of modern and traditional consumers, with good purchasing power. At the same time, it is the gateway to the whole Middle East,” he said.


The product line was originally released on the Indian market in June 2013, following two years of research and development. “Although the personal care industry in the country is saturated with a number of domestic and international players vying for the market share, there are very few home-grown brands in the organic personal care segment,” said Agarwal. He added that being one of the very few domestic players among a host of international brands, and also one of the first to offer a complete range of products, as well as its competitive pricing, has helped the brand to capture the attention of the target audience.

br /> The skin-friendly product range of skin, body and hair care products was derived from plants that have been grown without chemical fertilisers, herbicides and pesticides. Global organisations such as EcoCert, OneCert and Natrue have certified the product ingredients and raw materials as free from any harsh chemicals, parabens, phthalates, mineral oil, PABA, petrolatum, paraffin, or animal ingredients.  As such, bringing the brand into the UAE and acquiring the necessary approvals from the relevant authorities was a smooth process because all the brand’s products are FDA compliant and meet international quality standards, such as good manufacturing practice (GMP).


When searching for the right distributor, Agarwal said the most important requirement was that they had existing coverage in all modern trade outlets, both hyper and supermarkets, as well as pharmacies. “Our distributor also needed the right infrastructure and adequate finance to support the business. We have an excellent partner in our distributor, Lifeline Drug Store based in Abu Dhabi, which has fulfilled all the above conditions.”


Product promotion

The brand was promoted through 360-degree coverage of PR activities, print media, and below the line (BTL) marketing, which targets a specific demographic. The company also relied on digital media marketing, as well as placement of well-trained and qualified beauty advisors at strategic locations, who also provided customer feedback to the management team.


“We have touched the tier-one distribution network. We are going to start off an above the line (ATL) campaign, which has a broader reach and is largely untargeted, on the ARN Radio Network in three different channels. The channels will reach UAE nationals, expats in the Arab community, western expats, and the South Asian population,” said Agarwal. The brand has been well-received both in India and in the UAE, with repeat and referred customers within the business’s first seven months.


The formulation of the products has been tweaked a little bit to counter the heat of the local weather conditions. Similar products within the range are marketed and available across the world wherever the brand has a presence.  The brand is now poised to expand into the GCC. Organic Harvest became available in Saudi Arabia at the beginning of 2017 and the rollout will continue with Kuwait, Qatar, Oman, and Bahrain. Agarwal said the company will continue to expand its distribution network in its existing market, as well as entering new markets.


Retail industry outlook:

The UAE’s retail sector is expected to reach AED 200 billion in 2017, growing by five per cent on average each year, according to an analysis by the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry. The Chamber used data from a number of sources which included Euromonitor and ATKearney, which also suggested consumer spending data shows that the retail sector is growing faster than the UAE economy as a whole.


“The retail industry, in terms of organic personal care brands, is having a 25 per cent plus growth year on year. The opportunity is huge; AC Nielsen predicts a $16 billion market for organic personal care products by 2020,” said Agarwal.