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How Forest Essentials’ Dubai Store Paves the Way for Luxury Ayurveda

Published February 18, 2024
Published February 18, 2024
Forest Essentials

Forest Essentials, with its roots firmly steeped in history and culture, has skillfully carved a niche for itself as a Luxury Ayurveda brand. Embracing tradition and heritage, the brand has succeeded in effortlessly marrying the timeless grace of ancient beauty rituals with modernity to provide a multisensorial experience for its customers. Embodying this philosophy, its new retail store in the heart of Dubai provides an immersive journey into the realm of Ayurvedic beauty. With personalized consultations, expert advice, and an opportunity to experience the brand’s commitment to exceptional craftsmanship, sustainability, and authenticity, the new retail space provides a one-of-a-kind shopping experience that transports the customer into the enchanting world of Ayurveda and leaves them with a lingering feeling of purity, balance, and harmony.

With two decades of experience under their belt, the opening of their first store in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) marks an important milestone in the brand’s mission to take Ayurveda to the world. Launched 21 years ago, the brand that started with a single store in India’s capital Delhi, now has 120 stores across the nation, a state-of- the-art store in London’s Covent Garden, and the first of its 25 planned stores in the GCC. Personally funded by founder and Managing Director Mira Kulkarni with an investment of a mere $2,400 at the outset, the brand has grown exponentially, with partnerships with hotel chains like Hyatt Hotels, The Oberoi Group, The Ritz Carlton, and Four Seasons. In 2007, Estee Lauder picked up a 20% stake in the Indian brand, becoming its first investment in India.

Luxury Ayurveda Is a Monolith Not to Be Ignored

Estimated to grow by $7.19 billion at a CAGR of 16.01% between 2023 and 2028, the global Ayurveda market is experiencing substantial growth, driven primarily by the rising demand for natural treatments and products. With Indian-born brands like Kama Ayurveda receiving substantial institutional funding from international partners like Puig, resulting in a total investment of $24.9 million, these investments underscore the international appeal of the Ayurvedic market to global players.

The rise in institutional funding for brands like Forest Essentials and Kama Ayurveda, along with international Ayurveda-inspired brands like Sahajan indicates a global interest in Ayurveda-based products as an effective and holistic approach to skincare. With stronger financial backing, these brands are able to invest in research and development, expand their product offerings, and strengthen their marketing and distribution networks beyond India’s borders.

Highlighting this desire for international expansion, a strategic partnership with GCC-based The Apparel Group will allow Forest Essentials to revolutionize skincare in the Middle East with the first of its 25 planned stores in Dubai’s Dubai Hills Mall. With expansion plans that include six more stores across the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait within the year, Forest Essentials will be able to leverage The Apparel Group’s unparalleled retail presence in the region to gain a strong foothold and establish itself as a leader in the luxury Ayurvedic skincare market.

A Multisensorial Retail Experience

Making its breakthrough in the region with a splash, its flagship store in Dubai Hills Mall embodies the concept of future retail to provide a unique multisensorial retail experience. Serving as a haven for customers to experience the world of Ayurveda, the 1,000-square-foot store seamlessly blends captivating store design with interactive product demonstrations, immersive brand placement, and dermatologically trained staff to offer an unmatched retail experience. By tapping into each of the senses, the store encourages the customer to engage with every facet of the business, allowing them to connect with the brand on a much deeper level.

With a muted color palette that lends itself as the perfect canvas for interactive display screens and captivating three-dimensional product display, the store positions itself as a wellness sanctuary that transports the customer to the banks of the River Ganges, in Rishikesh, where the factory is situated. On entering the store, customers are enveloped by the intoxicating smells of Nargis, a Kashmiri flower that is known for its sensuous, relaxing, and calming properties. Considered to be a symbol of good health and prosperity, the oil of this flower heroes in several of Forest Essentials products ranging from body scrubs and creams to body mists and bath oils.

Incorporating the soothing sounds of nature and Indian classical instruments, the space provides the ideal atmosphere for relaxation. At the heart of the store lies a captivating centerpiece—a stunning relief cut out of the River Ganges, delicately laid in 24 karat gold on a clear slab of marble. Adjacent to it is a gorgeous gold sink that acts as a magnificent stage for live product demonstrations. By creating an immersive experience that invites customers to interact with the products just like they would in the comfort of their own homes, this unique approach fosters trust and an emotional connection with the customer, often resulting in a pleasurable purchase.

Sight as a sense is not overlooked, as large LED screens encase the front wall of the store, featuring images and visuals of the making of the products, the foraging of the ingredients, and the majestic River Ganges itself, while smaller screens strewn across the walls in grid-like patterns play moving visuals of the women who work tirelessly to bring the products to life. A curated collection of gifting options, in almost holographic styles, encourage customers to think of their loved ones, evoking a sense of nostalgia.

How Other Ayurvedic Brands Can Get It Right

As luxury Ayurveda continues to gain traction and more consumers gravitate towards a back-to-basics approach to skincare and wellness, it will be imperative for Ayurveda-based brands to build trust and credibility with their customers. Being an approach that is grounded in tradition and history, the sector lines itself up naturally to authentic and honest branding marketing strategies that put ancient rituals at the forefront. By blending ancient techniques and traditions with modern technology, aesthetics, and a user journey that is relatable, Ayurveda-based brands can hit the sweet spot of resonating with their customers while also creating a brand experience that aligns with the ethos of Ayurveda as a whole.

Education will be a critical aspect when building an Ayurveda-inspired brand. By providing digestible in-depth information about the principles and practices of Ayurveda, brands can allow their customers to fully understand the science behind the products and their immense benefits. This can be done through a combination of online and offline channels—ranging from interactive infographics and informative storytelling in brick-and-mortar stores to webinars, workshops, and events online. By becoming a reliable source of information for customers who are new to the world of Ayurveda, brands will be able to build trust and establish themselves as experts in the field.

While technology and innovation will be key for spearheading the success of brands in this emerging market, transparency is a crucial factor that will set the successful Ayurveda-based brands apart from the unsuccessful ones. Brands in the space must be committed to sustainability and allow their customers to join them on the journey of sustainable and responsible production. By being open about their sourcing and explaining to their customers where the ingredients come from, as well as how they are harvested and distilled into products, brands will be able to leverage the success of their successful counterparts like Forest Essentials to create a loyal customer base of informed users who will keep coming back for more.


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