Sugar Cosmetics - The Success Story of the Millennial's Favourite Beauty E-Commerce!

Sarika Anand Sarika Anand Anik Banerjee Anik Banerjee
Sep 3, 2022 16 min read
Sugar Cosmetics - The Success Story of the Millennial's Favourite Beauty E-Commerce!

Company Profile is an initiative by StartupTalky to publish verified information on different startups and organizations. The content in this post has been approved by Sugar Cosmetics.

Until the emergence of e-commerce and Direct-to-Consumer (D2C) selling, the Indian beauty sector had been dominated by cosmetics majors for decades. In the beauty industry, it's difficult to overlook the influence of direct-to-consumer companies like Nykaa, Mamaearth, WOW Skin, Plum, and Sugar Cosmetics, which are quickly becoming customers' go-to alternatives in metros and Tier 1 and 2 cities.

Established in 2015, Sugar Cosmetics came up with just two products, namely, a black matte eyeliner and a black kohl pencil. Since then, the company has grown to 450 Warehouses. So, in just five years, what led Sugar to emerge as one of the most well-known beauty chains in India?

Here's learning more about Sugar, its Industry, its Founders and Team, Sugar CEO, its Business and Revenue Model, its Name and Logo, Growth and Revenue, Sugar Cosmetic Valuation, Mission and Vision, Competitors, Challenges Faced, Future Plans, and more.

Sugar Cosmetics - Company Highlights

Startup Name SUGAR Cosmetics
Parent Company Vellvette Lifestyle, Vellvette
Headquarters Mumbai, Maharashtra, India
Industry Beauty, E-commerce, Brand Marketing, Cosmetics
Founders Kaushik Mukherjee and Vineeta Singh
Founded 2012
Current CEO Vineeta Singh
Total Funding $85.5 mn (May 2022)
Revenue $16.68 mn (Rs 126.4 cr in FY21)

About Sugar Cosmetics
Sugar Cosmetics - Industry
Sugar Cosmetics - Name, Logo, and Tagline
Sugar Cosmetics - Founders and Team
Sugar Cosmetics - Startup Story
Sugar Cosmetics - Mission and Vision
Sugar Cosmetics - Business Model and Revenue Model
Sugar Cosmetics - Funding and Investments
Sugar Cosmetics - Growth and Revenue
Sugar Cosmetics - Acquisitions
Sugar Cosmetics - Competitors
Sugar Cosmetics - Challenges Faced
Sugar Cosmetics - Future Plans

About Sugar Cosmetics

Sugar Cosmetics is one of India's fastest-growing premium cosmetic companies, with a cult following among millennials. Thanks to its clutter-breaking attitude, unique low-poly packaging, and chart-topping products, it has become the first choice of many Indian women. The brand's bestselling goods in the Lips, Eyes, Face, Nails & Skin categories are sent all over the world from state-of-the-art facilities in Germany, Italy, India, the United States, and Korea.

The brand is devoted to producing products that are a great fit for every Indian skin tone throughout seasons and across the calendar, with a cruelty-free line that is high on design and high on performance. Sugar Cosmetics is aggressively expanding its strong existence with 30,000+ retail stores by 2022 across 130+ cities. It is backed by the faith of marquee investors and the passion of millions of beauty aficionados.

Sugar Cosmetics - Industry

The Indian beauty e-commerce market, which is still in its early stages, might witness a spate of acquisitions over the next 3 to 4 years as smaller, direct-to-consumer (D2C) firms are rising up, following a pattern set in the US.

According to a survey published by Harvard Business Review in 2009, the global yearly consumer expenditure by women was valued at $20 trillion. In 2018, this number rose to $40 Trillion.

As for Global Cosmetic Industry, it is estimated to reach $428.9 billion by 2027. Furthermore, the Indian cosmetics industry is expected to reach $20 Billion by 2025, increasing at a CAGR of 25%.

The fact that the customer base wants to have digital experiences is one of the reasons why beauty is shifting toward e-commerce. It's simpler and less time-consuming indeed, for people to go from online material to an online shop now that they can have practically the same "real-life" experience online as they do in the stores (personal preferences, samples, etc).

Sugar Cosmetics - Name, Logo, and Tagline

Sugar Cosmetics Logo
Sugar Cosmetics Logo

The company began as an online supplier of natural, paraben-free cosmetics and has since grown in popularity not just in India but throughout the world. Due to the usage of the black and white colour combination, the visual identity of an Indian cosmetic business is beautiful and refined while also seeming bold and confident. The company's logo is made up of a wordmark with an emblem on the left, which serves as the brand's signifier and appears on all of the company's cosmetics.

Sugar Cosmetics' slogan says, β€œRule The World, One Look At A Time!!!”

Sugar Cosmetics - Founders and Team

Sugar Cosmetics was founded by Kaushik Mukherjee and Vineeta Singh, in 2012.

Founders of Sugar Cosmetics - Kaushik Mukherjee and Vineeta Singh
Founders of Sugar Cosmetics - Kaushik Mukherjee and Vineeta Singh

Kaushik Mukherjee

Kaushik Mukherjee, the Co-Founder, and CEO of SUGAR Cosmetics is a BITS Pilani and IIM Ahmedabad alumnus, and a TEDx speaker. He is also a marathon runner and an Ironman triathlete.

Vineeta Singh

Vineeta Singh is the Co-Founder and CEO of SUGAR Cosmetics, India's fastest-growing cosmetic business. She is a TEDx Speaker and an IIT Madras and IIM Ahmedabad graduate. She is a triathlon as well as an ultramarathon runner. Vineeta is a popular face on the Indian business reality show Shark Tank. Vineeta has also funded numerous startups.

Sugar Cosmetics, a direct-to-consumer company, appointed Suchit Sikaria as its new Chief Business Officer on July 5, 2021. Sikaria, an IIM-Ahmedabad alumnus, has over 14 years of sales, marketing, and business operations leadership experience with Performics India and Nokia India. He was a VP and later a Managing Partner with Performics, and has earlier served as the Area Sales Manager at Nokia. Sikaria also has four years of startup expertise from his own entrepreneurial business, Bhukkadpanti, which was built to serve as a food startup.

"I look forward to bringing in my experience of the industry and building the brand into a much larger D2C player; not just in the country, but even globally," said Sikaria.

Sikaria left the role of the Managing Partner of the digital marketing agency, Performics India (which was founded in 2018 by the combination of heritage companies Convonix and Resultrix) before joining Sugar.

As mentioned on their LinkedIn, Sugar Cosmetics has over 200 employees. Β 

Sugar Cosmetics - Startup Story

Vineeta's husband and business partner, Kaushik, was working at McKinsey & Company before the two of them started this firm, and she was attempting to build and expand her skills at another firm. The idea of working together had never occurred to either of them, but they had great respect for one another's abilities. Soon, they both realized that they enjoyed various things, such as Kaushik's interest in technology and hers in product development and marketing.

As a result, they decided to team together, with Kaushik working on an eCommerce project and she creating a women's business. They sensed a strong bond that might handle their shared interests.

"We have a long way to go and great goals to achieve! Success to me is having the flexibility and capacity to achieve whatever I want without fear of failure. To be honest, I had my reservations when I turned down the job offer when I was 23 years old. But, in keeping with my concept of having no regrets, I pursued my ambitions. I was quite enthusiastic about being an entrepreneur and starting a business. I simply knew that if I didn't do it now, I'd regret it for the rest of my life, so I went ahead and did it," said Vineeta Singh.

Sugar Cosmetics - Mission and Vision

Sugar Cosmetics' mission statement says, "We believe in every interpretation of beauty. Bold to subdued, quirky to crazy, every day to glam goddess! We aim to celebrate every aspect of you, no matter what your style is. So, go ahead and pick your faves."

Sugar Cosmetics - Business Model and Revenue Model

Sugar Cosmetics has a D2C model of business, which uses an omnichannel approach too to sell its products, which helps Sugar sell its products in various eCommerce marketplaces like Amazon, Nykaa, etc. The major revenue streams of Sugar Cosmetics include the sale of its products in India and other export sales.

Sugar Cosmetics - Funding and Investments

Sugar Cosmetics has raised $85.5 mn in over 4 funding rounds that the company has seen to date. It was the Series C round of funding that Sugar had last witnessed on October 21, 2020, which infused $21 mn into the company, after which it closed a $50 mn worth of funding in its Series D funding round that came from Asia Fund of L Catterton and some other existing investors including Elevation Capital, India Quotient, and A91 Partners.

Date Round Amount Lead Investors
May 30, 2022 Series D $50M Asia fund of L Catterton, A91 Partners, Elevation Capital and more.
Oct 21, 2020 Series C $21M A91 Partners, Elevation Capital, India Quotient, Stride Ventures
Mar 8, 2019 Series B $12M A91 Partners, Anicut Capital, India Quotient
Jun 1, 2017 Series A $2.5M India Quotient, RB Investments Pte. Ltd.

L Catterton, which has funded Sugar on one of the recent occasions, has sold some of the portfolio investments in Asia via its Asian arm to Hamilton Lane, a US-based alternative investment management firm for $360 mn, as of June 27, 2022. The firm has reportedly pulled out private equity investments in startups only from its Fund 1 and Fund 2. However, it refrained from selling off stakes from its Fund 3 investments, via which it invested in companies like Reliance Jio and Sugar Cosmetics. Β 

Sugar Cosmetics has now onboarded Ranveer Singh as its latest investor. This comes after the company raised Series D funding in May 2022. It is the first startup investment made by the actor, the investment amount however remains undisclosed. With this new partnership, the company will be able to β€œcreate new pathways for customer acquisition" and plans to become a new favourite cosmetics brand among millennial and Gen Z customers.

Sugar Cosmetics - Growth and Revenue

The beauty firm, which operates on a hybrid model, currently has a presence in more than 10,000 sales outlets in more than 130 locations. In the previous two years, its income has increased by nearly 6 times. After the pandemic took a heavy toll, the corporation devised novel strategies to reinforce the trust connection between its brand and its clients. SUGAR Cosmetics found a position for itself in the fast-growing beauty sector and weathered the epidemic by slashing expenses and reorganizing the team, as well as utilizing social media marketing and an e-commerce push. Some of the other growth highlights of Sugar are:

  • Sugar website and app witnesses more than 2 mn unique visitors each month
  • It sells 200K+ products each month
  • Sugar Cosmetics products are present in over 40K retail stores
  • All prominent ecommerce marketplaces sell Sugar products like Amazon, Flipkart, Nykaa, Myntra and more
  • Sugar also sells its products outside India, in countries like Korea, Germany, Italy and the US

The D2C beauty and cosmetics brand managed to clock in Rs 100 crore in annual revenues. This was a difficult feat even for brands like Revlon, which was only able to reach the same mark in revenues after 20 long years. Sugar was able to achieve such a feat with the help of the omnichannel approach that it has developed when it comes to selling the products along with its focus on content marketing, and the development of its own app. Β 

Sugar Cosmetics grew at a breakneck speed in FY20. With its hybrid online-offline sales, the firm increased its operations by 5.6X in the previous two fiscal years. The team grew from 87 to over 1,750 retail touchpoints in only two and a half years. The team had collected a net income of Rs 103.71 crore by January 2020 and was aiming for Rs 200 crore. However, the pandemic stymied its expansion goals.

Sugar Cosmetics' operating income increased by 82% in FY20, from Rs 57.14 crore in FY19 to over Rs 103.71 crore. Notably, overseas purchasers accounted for 15.4% of its revenues, or Rs 16 crore. During FY20, it generated a further Rs 1.4 crore from its financial assets.

Sugar Cosmetics Revenue

The Sugar Cosmetics revenue further increased to Rs 126.36 crore in FY21 from Rs 103.71 crore, with its operating revenue seeing a growth of 22% during the same fiscal. It was the domestics sales that commanded the company's overall collections, which made up 93.1% of its sales, growing by 34.1%, from Rs 87.7 crore to Rs 117.61 crore during FY21. However, the export sales of Sugar dropped by 45.4% because it bore the brunt of the travel and freight disruptions that the company witnessed due to the pandemic outbreak.

Sugar Revenue Verticals FY21 FY20
Sales of Goods in India INR 117.61 cr INR 87.70 cr
Export Sales INR 8.74 cr INR 16 cr

Sugar Cosmetics Expenses Breakdown

The total expenses of the cosmetics brand also grew alongside its revenues, which stood at Rs 148.92 crore in FY21, thereby rising from Rs 126 crore of expenses that Sugar saw in the previous fiscal. The largest cost centre of the company in FY21 is the cost of procuring cosmetic products from other manufacturers in India and abroad, which contributed to 28.6% of the company's expenses. Due to the slackened demand and procurement because of numerous roadblocks it faced, this expense segment fell flat to be Rs 42.60 crore. However, the company had seen a growth of its expenditure in all of the other verticals including its advertising and promotional expenses, employee benefit costs, outsourced support and labour costs, other operating and admin expenses, and freight and packaging costs. Β  Β 

Sugar Expenses Verticals FY21 FY20
Cost of Cosmetics INR 42.60 cr INR 42.63 cr
Advertising Promotional Expenses INR 34.36 cr INR 28.43 cr
Cost of Employee Benefits INR 19.20 cr INR 12.70 cr
Outsourced Support and Labour Costs INR 22 cr INR 19.20 cr
Cost of Other Admin Expenses and Operations INR 20.96 cr INR 15.94 cr
Freight and Packaging Costs INR 8.80 cr INR 7.10 cr

The total expenses of Sugar increased by 18.2% during FY21, which became Rs 149 crore from Rs 126 crore in FY20.

Sugar Cosmetics Financials

Sugar Cosmetics Financials FY21 FY20
Revenues INR 126.36 cr INR 103.71 cr
Expenses INR 149 cr INR 126 cr
EBITDA Margin -11.98% -14.38%
Profit/Loss Loss of INR 21.1 cr Loss of INR 28.23 cr

The popular Indian cosmetics provider improved its EBITDA margins and on the back of this, it managed to curtail its losses from Rs 28.23 crore to Rs 21.1 crore during FY21.

Sugar Financials FY19-FY21

Social media is one of the most effective tools used by SUGAR. According to Singh, they saw early on that customers were spending more time on their smartphones and engaging with their content on social media. The company leveraged this as a chance to boost its social media presence.

"We used to get around 100 million monthly impressions before lockdown, but that number has already risen to almost 240 million. We recently passed one million Instagram followers, and our own app has over 800,000 downloads," Vineeta revealed.

The Instagram followers of Sugar Cosmetics currently stand at 2.1+ mn, whereas its Facebook followers stand at more than 426K, as of May 2022.

Some of the notable things that SUGAR is getting right since FY20

Sugar is scaling and according to the CEO's statements, the startup is expecting to grow 2X in revenues, and cross the Rs 300 crore mark in FY22. Anyone building a retail brand in India may learn a lot from their experience.


The Fab Bag by Sugar Cosmetics
The Fab Bag by Sugar Cosmetics

The "FAB BAG", a cosmetic subscription service, was created by Kaushik Mukherjee and Vineeta Singh in 2012. For Rs 599 every month, users would get a "surprise" beauty box including a mix of five goods from the categories of cosmetics, bath and body, skincare, haircare, and fragrances.

These items were largely new and unknown brands that were sourced abroad. The FAB BAG experience allowed the team the space, place, and data they needed to figure out who their target market was. SUGAR wanted to position itself as a premium brand because the company's growth hinged on encouraging mass consumers to upgrade or luxury clients to try something less costly.

Premium Products

Despite its tight budget, the team managed to secure their launch items β€” an eyeliner and a kohl pencil – from a reputable German producer. Customers found the 'Made in Germany' badge to be reassuring, and it enabled SUGAR to get off to a good start. The industry has been dominated by gloss eyeliners at the time, but SUGAR decided to develop a matte version, believing that its clients would prefer an item they could use every day. The eyeliner was the first of several product bets that SUGAR would make, and it turned out to be a hit.

Importance of Instagram influencers

The importance of Instagram influencers in beauty business marketing is well-documented. SUGAR jumped on the 'unwrapping videos' and 'before and after' makeovers bandwagon to make people aware. The brand's Instagram influencer approach is well-balanced. Anmol Rodriguez, an acid attack survivor, is featured in one of their most famous videos. Today, the brand has over 2 million Instagram followers, much-outnumbering peers such as Colorbar.

Unique Packaging

Sugar Cosmetics Packaging
Sugar Cosmetics Packaging

SUGAR, like many other emerging companies, began with an all-digital strategy. The design partner, Opposite was given the task of creating "thumb-stopping packaging." Opposite devised a strong, graphic approach that incorporates low-poly drawings, aware that the challenger brand needs to appear and feel unique from the prevalent minimal and largely black style.

β€œRather than equivocate with existing players, we decided to embrace the new dynamic – the screen was more important than the shelf, the packaging was more important than the logo.”Abhisek Sarda, Founder, Opposite

Shopify Store

In 2015, SUGAR opened a Shopify store, which it continues to operate. The firm also released an app in November 2019 that has over 800,000 downloads and a 4.6-star rating on Android and iOS. The majority of the internet acquisition approach is still concentrated on social advertisements.

SUGAR debuted on Nykaa, the beauty website, in 2016 when it had a far smaller number of businesses than it does now. By 2017, Nykaa accounted for roughly 80% of the brand's income, and the team admits they weren't sure whether to be "glad or frightened." In any case, it was evident that distribution needed to be scaled. It was extremely simple to go from Nykaa to other online platforms like Flipkart and Amazon. The true issue, Mukherjee concedes, was breaking the code offline.

Sugar Cosmetics - Acquisitions

Sugar Cosmetics has acquired 1 company to date. The acquisition of ENN Beauty was announced on January 13, 2022, when the company picked up the majority (51%) stakes in the natural skin and hair care brand.

Acquired Company Date of Acquisition Deal Value
ENN Beauty January 13, 2022 -

Sugar Cosmetics - Competitors

The top ten rivals in SUGAR Cosmetics' competitive group can be listed as:

  • Purplle
  • Lakme
  • Maybelline
  • Lotus Herbals
  • Blue Heaven Cosmetics
  • Nykaa
  • Plum
  • Marico
  • NewU
  • Emami

Sugar Cosmetics - Challenges Faced

β€œIn FY20, we had hit the β‚Ή100 crore net revenue number. For us, it was more psychological that we can’t go under β‚Ή100 crores. But there came a point when we were unsure, as April and May were very hard. As a company, we have always been close to breakeven and have been very conscious of our bottom line, but in the first quarter of FY21 we saw a loss of β‚Ή5 crores, and we knew we had to bounce back,” Vineeta Singh said.

The impact was worse because retail outlets accounted for 60% of their revenue. As a result, during unlock 1.0, the team rallied to a target of at least 5 crores in net revenue. To deal with the issue, the team had to go through wage cuts and employment reshuffles, according to the founder Vineeta Singh. Despite the difficult circumstances, by the third quarter of FY20, the firm had regained profitability.

When most merchants were reducing their physical footprint, SUGAR moved ahead and increased its number of locations. They have increased their retail footprint from 1000 last year to 2500 this year. This was a strategic move Singh couldn't afford to miss out on. They realized that they needed to increase their investment. They were able to attract seasonal customers since they expanded their area before the holiday season.

By the conclusion of FY21, the firm expected a 40% increase in net sales. Here, it is important to note that the company has already surged its domestic sales by 34.1%. Singh has big goals for the next five to six years, and she wants to reach a net income of 500 crores.

Sugar Cosmetics - Future Plans

SUGAR Cosmetics has expanded outside India, having a physical outlet in Russia and an online presence in the United States. In FY22, SUGAR Cosmetics intends to increase its offline standalone locations. The brand, which was created in 2015, currently manages 70+ outlets on its own, with aspirations to increase that number to 100 by December 2022.

The D2C brand is expected to conclude this year(2021) with over two and a half times net revenue compared to last year, owing to continued sales growth and the Christmas season rush. However, the results of the particular period haven't arrived still.

According to some figures, 95% of trading in India still takes place offline. SUGAR intends to use this to extend and enhance its retail base, as well as improve its retail marketing and visual merchandising experience.

SUGAR Cosmetics opened five new brand-owned retail stores throughout the pandemic, putting sanitation and safety first for its retail consumers. To strengthen its D2C channels, the firm is focusing on expanding its mobile app, which has already had 800,000 app installations in less than a year. In 2021, content marketing, strong alliances, and offering new items will all be on the agenda. The CEO of Sugar Vineeta Singh has revealed of the company's latest plans of crossing Rs 300 crore in revenues during FY22. Besides, she also added that Sugar would also be foraying into new categories, including the hair care category that the company will most likely be entering very soon fostered by its acquisition of ENN Beauty. - Company Profile | Beauty Startup
Purplle is a multi-brand beauty retailer selling cosmetic and wellness products. Know more about its company profile, business model, success story, etc.


What does Sugar Cosmetics do?

Sugar Cosmetics is one of India's fastest-growing premium cosmetic companies, with a cult following among millennials.

Is Sugar Cosmetics an Indian company?

Yes, Sugar Cosmetics is an Indian company.

Who founded Sugar Cosmetics?

Sugar Cosmetics was founded by Kaushik Mukherjee and Vineeta Singh, in 2012.

Who is the CEO of Sugar Cosmetics?

The CEO of Sugar Cosmetics is Vineeta Singh. She is also the founder of the company and can be popularly recognized as one of the judges of the popular Indian business reality show "Shark Tank India".

What is the Sugar Cosmetics valuation?

The Sugar Cosmetics valuation was last recorded to be over $100 million in February 2021. The brand is currently eyeing a valuation of $500 million. Β 

Which country owns Sugar Cosmetics?

Sugar Cosmetics is an Indian company.

Which companies do Sugar Cosmetics compete with?

Purplle, Lakme, Maybelline, Lotus Herbals, Blue Heaven Cosmetics, Nykaa, Plum, Marico, NewU, Emami are the top ten rivals in SUGAR Cosmetics' competitive group.

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