Feeling Beautiful at Home: The Adaptability of Indonesia’s Beauty Industry Amidst Pandemic

May 27, 2020

The beauty industry has always been famous for its accommodating retail stores. Each outlet is usually completed with sales women who show their kind smiles as they offer samples and a word of advice for each curious woman stepping into the store. Women have gone accustomed to trying the products directly on their bare skin, to smell freshly introduced scents, to consult about their past cosmetic experiences with the sales women, and other multi-sensory experiences that serve as appealing values when shopping for beauty needs. Unfortunately, the offline experience is currently inaccessible as many retailers are forced to pause their beauty store operations due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, thanks to today’s advanced technology, even at times like now the beauty industry is still able to provide a form of multi-sensory experience that is generated virtually and creatively in order to still make the shopping experience satisfying for their consumers. More importantly, through e-commerce platforms that are at their disposal, they still have a chance in meeting the needs of the consumers. With these efforts, the beauty industry is not all in dire straits and is still having an up to par demand rate. Through SIRCLO’s data-driven research, we were able to acquire some data findings that capture the demands of products from the beauty category in Indonesia’s e-commerce amidst the pandemic.

Based on our findings, in March, the demand for beauty products in e-commerce was 80% higher than it was in February. As we move on with an undefined end date of the lockdown, it’s a possibility that e-shoppers would precede with a similar consumption pattern and continue indulging in the beauty category. One of Indonesia’s marketplace platforms, Blibli.com, recently mentioned that Health and Beauty was among the top 3 categories that experienced the most transactions in March through April. When compared to their last year’s transactions, Health and Beauty products on Blibli.com grew threefold this year.1 SIRCLO’s findings show that the increment prediction from February till the end of April 2020 reached 101%. 

While there appeared to be a spike in growth between February to March, we were starting to see a stagnant increment from March to April in our data findings. For brands to survive and keep their performance outstanding, the key is to listen to the consumers. The growing demand of beauty products in e-commerce is inherently the consumers’ call to beauty brands across the nation to provide. That is why it is substantially important for brands to understand the current attitudes and behaviors of Indonesian consumers in order to keep up.

According to Kantar (2020), stronger brands tend to prevail in moments of crisis. To become a strong brand, they need to be aware of ways to balance “the pursuit of building brand strength” and justify prices. In e-commerce, offering special discounts/promotional bundles have been a tactic that appeals to the consumers, but it also needs to be supported by initiatives beyond that for successful beauty brands to maintain and even enhance their brand strength. Learning from three popular beauty brands in Indonesia; Mustika Ratu, NIVEA Indonesia, and L'Oréal Indonesia, here are the steps they have taken to prevail in the COVID-19 pandemic:

1. Getting creative in generating multi-sensory experiences

Physical distancing has forbidden the beauty industry’s usual activations, campaigns, and other massive-crowd beauty events. However, this doesn’t stop brands from their proactive engagement with consumers and the beauty community as a whole. The beauty community’s lifestyle may be changing with the development of the pandemic situation, but brands are still stringing along with the flow to keep the business moving. This step has been executed with various approaches by the three brands; Mustika Ratu, NIVEA Indonesia, and L'Oréal Indonesia.

Mustika Ratu has been carrying out Instagram challenges and talk shows with experts to keep their consumers engaged with their brand as well as products. In one of their talk shows with experts, they discussed the health benefits of drinking their wellness remedy product, traditional Jamu. On the other hand, NIVEA Indonesia has developed a couple online campaigns in the wake of COVID-19 pandemic. To keep their consumers well-occupied while being at home, one of the campaigns is #DiRumahAjaSamaNIVEA (Stay At Home With NIVEA) that consists of live streamed activities led by experts. These include ‘Work Out At Home’ sessions with an Indonesian supermodel who has gone international, Kelly Tandiono, and ‘Make Up Tutorial’ with Bubah Alfian who has been a part of Miss Universe makeup team as well as numerous famous Indonesian celebrities’.

Another campaign of NIVEA Indonesia’s is “Clean - Sanitize - Protect” that aims to educate the importance of protecting our skin by keeping it clean and sanitized. This campaign was done through numerous initiatives, such as redesigning their official shop interface on marketplace platforms with the campaign assets, creating specific landing pages for the campaign, promoting product bundlings, and collaborating with key opinion leaders on Instagram to spread the awareness.

L'Oréal Indonesia’s approach in creating multi-sensory experiences has also been conducted through their Instagram account. They have been focused on topics surrounding how to feel beautiful while working from home. Through their #CantikSaatWFH (Beautiful While WFH) campaign, they have been posting tips about beauty, skincare, and hair care while linking them to the benefits that consumers can experience from using their products. For instance, one of the tips they mentioned was to use L'Oréal Extraordinary Oil to start the day with fresh and healthy hair while working from home.

Specifically in this Ramadan season, L'Oréal Indonesia have been hosting Instagram Live beauty classes a few moments before Iftar to share simple makeup hacks for those working from home as well as current makeup trends for those who are exploring makeup to kill time at home. Through these beauty classes named Ngabuburit Cantik (Feeling Beautiful While Killing Time Before Iftar), they are working with famous beauty gurus and micro buzzers to maintain a high engagement with their consumers. On top of their campaigns, L'Oréal Indonesia’s official website has been able to substitute the multi-sensory experience of shopping at offline stores. Their website is powered with a virtual try-on feature utilizing the device camera that allows consumers to see how L'Oréal products look on them. Under the lockdown policy, this feature has become more relevant and effective than ever.

These virtual initiatives allow beauty brands to substitute the multi-sensory experience they have always been famous for. It may not be in the same form of direct product testing or consultations with the products saleswomen, but it surely keeps the relationship between brand and consumers intact. Not to mention, these brands have come up with a way of talking to their loyal consumers about the safety and hygiene measures that they promote through their campaigns. Therefore, these interesting and engaging multi-sensory experiences give beauty brands a significant role in flattening the curve.

2. Maintaining mindset and product agility

In February alone, 4 sanitization products sold in e-commerce experienced more than 100% increase in demands; hand sanitizer, hand wash, vitamins, and wet wipes. In March, the same high-demand products experienced more than 200% increase in demand (Read more here). As these facts begin to unfold, some beauty brands have been taking steps to branch out their products into the sanitization category so as to respond strategically to the situation. This way brands are grasping the opportunity to evolve with the consumers as they navigate around the pandemic. Mustika Ratu makes a suitable case study in taking this step as a business. In early March, Mustika Ratu released a new product in the sanitization category to help cater the needs of the community, which consisted of Zaitun Hand Gel (olive oil hand sanitizer) and Antiseptic Hand and Body Spray. Not long after, Mustika Ratu also released wellness products which are Wedang Mustika Ratu and Jejamu to help promote healthy consumption in this health-concerning time. All the newly-released products still stay true to Mustika Ratu’s specialty in localities of ingredients, allowing the brand to evolve its products’ value proposition.

Mustika Ratu Hand and Body Spray Sanitizer (Source: IG @mustikaratuind, 23 May 2020)

L'Oréal Indonesia’s strategy in keeping their product agile is slightly different. They don’t stop the innovation of new products, but instead they still make it happen while taking this opportunity to both empower women and show support for the medical frontliners. Their latest liquid lipstick collection from April, Rouge Signature Empowereds, was released along with the campaign of #RedBeatsCOVID. “Red symbolizes the spirit of staying alive which is something we want women to feel empowered by, but it also symbolizes our empathy to the frontliners who are helping the nation in facing the pandemic,” explained Putri Chaerun Nisa, Senior Product Manager of L'Oréal Paris Makeup Indonesia. Through this campaign, every usage of the hashtag on Instagram is equal to one hand sanitizer being produced for free distribution to the medical frontliners.

Also staying true to their brand’s value proposition as they learn from China’s progress, L'Oréal Indonesia have been coming up with a future plan that will be relevant as the nation progresses into a hopefully better condition. In June and July, they are planning to engage more in topics along the lines of transfer proof makeup and strong eye makeup which are both suitable for the mandatory usage of masks. From what we can see, every beauty brand adopts an approach that is unique to their brand. Nevertheless, these various approaches help the brand stay relevant in the present day and keep their mindset agile enough in adapting to the uncertain forthcoming days. 


3. Using their resources to be part of the solution

In the spirit of solidarity and positivity, brands have set a few activities in motion in being the nation’s catalyst of healing. Through various kinds of philanthropic initiatives, brands have joined the effort of bottling up the pandemic situation. One of the initiatives is producing sanitization products to support the resources of medical frontliners who have been working tirelessly to care for the infected patients. NIVEA Indonesia, L'Oréal Indonesia, and Mustika Ratu have all joined this initiative by producing hundreds of thousands of hand sanitizers to be distributed for free. 

Aside from donating to medical frontliners, these beauty brands have also taken the liberty to care for their internal teams. NIVEA Indonesia donated a total of 40,000 hand sanitizers to their stakeholders and employees2 while L'Oréal Indonesia donated a total of 140,000 hand sanitizers for the #LOREALPARISFAMILY which includes employees, salon partners, and healthcare workers. In ensuring an equal distribution for the healthcare workers, L'Oréal Indonesia collaborated with @doctorshare in the process.3 Mustika Ratu has also taken the liberty to donate their production to Brimob Batalyon D PELOPOR as well as Junior Doctors Net. Indonesia. Aside from supply aid, these brands have also engaged in financial aid initiatives. L'Oréal Indonesia have given financial aid to Eijkman Molecular Biology Institution to fund the necessary research surrounding COVID-19,4 while 2,5% of Mustika Ratu’s sales are donated to the medical frontliners, orphanages, the underprivileged, online ojek drivers, and those in need. 

What NIVEA Indonesia, L'Oréal Indonesia, and Mustika Ratu have done are great case studies that show the importance of agility and adaptability towards unpredictable circumstances that will eventually contribute to one’s overall brand strength. This has become an essential business aspect for surviving in the present day. April had experienced a rather stagnant increment compared to before, but it doesn’t have to stay that way. By utilizing technology to its best potential, beauty brands have so many digital approaches to explore in navigating their business around the pandemic.   

To ease the process of penetrating the digital market, beauty brands can focus on three important pillars, which consist of building an official brand.com website easily with ready-to-use templates from SIRCLO Store, entering various marketplace platforms (Tokopedia, Shopee, Blibli, Bukalapak, etc.) with SIRCLO Commerce’s end-to-end multichannel management solutions, and optimizing social commerce (Instagram, Facebook, and WhatsApp Business Solutions). NIVEA Indonesia, L'Oréal Indonesia, and Mustika Ratu have all been optimizing these three important pillars by having their own interactive official websites, selling products alongside campaigning important messages through various marketplace platforms, and optimizing social commerce through their social accounts in order to keep their consumers engaged. Through their alliance with SIRCLO over the years, SIRCLO has been a significant part in these beauty brands’ online-selling activities in Indonesia with the end-to-end management services that we offer through SIRCLO Commerce; order processing, customer service, packaging, shipping, and order fulfillment. Enterprise brands have less to worry about the technicalities in making their products accessible online as well as nationwide with SIRCLO’s services and expertise in the Indonesian e-commerce landscape.  

By utilizing the 3 important pillars in penetrating the digital market, brands can avoid scenarios of a downfall in online traffic surrounding beauty products like what France, known to be the capital of fashion and beauty, has apparently been experiencing since the pandemic. Their online traffic went down by 25% while the average duration of an online session declined by around 17% and the page visits per session by around 12%.5 This is a sign for the beauty industry to stay firm on the consumers’ digital radar and be creative in their ways. The $500 billion global beauty industry has changed what and how it markets to the consumers who are staying at home and restoring the distance.6 Your beauty brand should too.


SIRCLO neither provides regulated advice nor guarantee results. The materials we convey reflect general insight and best practice based on information currently available, and do not contain all of the information needed to determine a future course of action. Such information has not been generated or independently verified by SIRCLO and is inherently uncertain and subject to change. SIRCLO has no obligation to update these materials and makes no representation or warranty and expressly disclaims any liability with respect thereto.