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Reliance, HUL to market beauty & health together

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The country’s two top companies, oil-to-retail giant Ltd (RIL) and FMCG major Ltd, have got into a tie-up to collaborate in setting up a chain of beauty and wellness formats across the country. Their stated aim is to bring these products to the masses.

The beauty and wellness formats will be started in in May. These will begin in Mumbai and be expanded to 40 hypermarkets across the country in the first phase of three months. Reliance, which is planning to open a mart every week, will add this format in each store.

The two companies have developed an innovative concept of assisted selling under which specialists in areas such as skin care, hair care and ayurveda — trained mostly by Unilever — will help consumers make the right choices while buying products. They will have the latest technology to address the requirements of consumers on skin, dental care and hair care, among others. Executives involved in the project say currently consumers go to lifestyle stores to buy such products. The stores do not have a wide array of products and those available are expensive, they add.

Unilever has successfully undertaken such tie-ups globally, the most prominent being its alliance with in China. There, they together developed and expanded the wellness and health care market through a similar format.

While 50 per cent of the products in the stores will be Unilever’s, the aim is to build and expand this market together. So, products from other companies which fit the bill will be stocked. Products of Himalaya in the ayurveda category will be available.

The branded stores will have nearly 2,000 different products and more than 300 brands providing consumers a one-stop shop for all such requirements.

The new format within the hypermarts is expected to be a game-changer in terms of selling products. The store layout will undergo a change; the traditional aisle format will be done away with. The new layout that has been worked out in an area close to 2,000 sq ft would be elliptical in shape and have clear zones: a women's zone that will stack health and beauty products, a men's zone where the key would be to help them make quick decisions, a unisex zone and for the first time a health care zone that will stack contraceptives, over-the-counter drugs, ayurvedic drugs, medicinal juices, etc.

Reliance Retail's CEO for Value Formats Rob Cissell says, "Beauty and wellness is one of the fastest growing categories in the personal care segment. The Indian consumer is very discerning and increasingly spending more on personal grooming and health-related products. However, limited choice, poor accessibility and a lack of guidance at the point of sale have been constraining factors. Our partnership with HUL is aimed at making these products available to everyone."

Lever will also have product display counters for specific products such as Dove, Olay and Sunsilk. Additionally, there will be trained staff to conduct promotions and treatments for consumers.

Executives in the know say Unilever had conducted a dipstick study on consumer behaviour to understand their needs while buying products related to skin care, oral care, hair care, lip care and health care. It also brought in international experts to conceive and execute the new format.

The study threw up some interesting observations: consumers require privacy while buying such products, they need assistance and advice on how to compare different options.

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