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Madhavi Irani

The newest buzzword in the booming Indian content landscape is ‘intelligent content’. But what exactly is it? A technology? An approach? In fact, Intelligent Content is actually a way of thinking through the way content is organised and managed. For Nykaa, this has been an intrinsic philosophy, given that content is inextricably woven into the very DNA of the brand, from discovery and information to purchase and engagement. In the last six years, Nykaa has developed a 360-degree content and marketing strategy that has evolved to make intelligent content an inseparable element of the magic created daily.

In the business of beauty, touch and feel has always been an integral part of the buying process, and our content strategy was principally based on replicating the in-store experience as best we could, given the confines of the digital arena. While this worked initially, we realised we had to become more intuitive about the way we created and positioned our content so that it offered an immersive experience for our consumers. This meant dismantling the assumption that the customer’s pivot was always the purchase and not the experience.

Flipping the funnel

We started by flipping the funnel completely, mapping out the buyer journey so we could engage with them on multiple platforms and at every step of the purchase process. To achieve this, we started by:

  • Diversifying our portfolio to include previously untapped audiences
    While makeup and skincare are our highest-selling categories, we also wanted to tap into specialist and niche categories. While we had plenty of educative content already, we wanted to experiment with the entertainment and comedy formats that were monopolising the video market, leading to the creation of our first ever beauty/comedy web series, The birth of Nykaa Man and Nykaa Fashion legs are now capturing subsets of the male and fashion demographic, respectively, with unique content channels for each.

In addition, we’ve made our first foray into television this year with the release of our Haseen Tu, Haseen Din TVC, and the celebrity talk show Vogue BFFs.

  • Amplifying our SEO strategy

Using keyword, competitor and sitewide analysis, we’ve optimised every single content piece for maximum crawls. Special coding feed excerpts into the Google Answer Box. Our hero blog strategy has allowed us to create little networks of relevant content, giving readers as much as they require on a specific topic by creating multiple gateways for it. In a span of a little more than a year, this spiked our organic sessions by 6.8x. In progress now is voice-enabled SEO content for a more effortless consumption experience.                                                                  

  • Rebranding Beauty Book as an independent entity
    Our blog, Beauty Book, was revamped as the brand-agnostic, editorial entity, focusing on ‘expert advice’, trends and tutorials through a variety of different formats, including articles, web series, FB Lives, educative brand collaborations and YouTube Masterclasses with makeup experts, feeding back to sales, and accounting for 2.5% of GMV last year.
  • Machine learning technology for m-commerce marketing

Aside from regular paid media channels, we expanded our marketing strategy. With technology and data assistance, we started reaching out to the smartphone user with personalised ads based on their browsing behaviour across devices, leading to a 7.5x increase in sales and a 1.7x spike in ROI and ROAS.

  • Reaching out to non-digital consumers

While Beauty Book and social media went about targeting an evolved, digitally native consumer, we also started producing infomercials for release on home channels like Tata and Airtel to help us tap regional audiences from Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities who were just starting out on their beauty journeys.

Multimedia content formats for Nykaa TV

Nykaa produces 45 videos a month with a network of around 80 experts and a reach surpassing 10m. We initially started with the bankable influence of vlogger-led tutorials, but with the growth of our subscribers, we needed our content to evolve and expand to keep up with the growing market. Expert-led masterclasses, comedy specials, celebrity collaborations, innovative branded videos and occasion videos by award-winning directors and affiliates have helped keep us ahead of the curve while satisfying the demand for both education and entertainment.

For the consumer, by the consumer

As the next step in curated content, we focused on higher personalisation of the shopping experience.

  • Buying guides and stores

To provide a store-like shopping experience to the digital consumer, we married advice with purchase to create a variety of shopping guides and stores that save you the trouble of sifting through thousands of products in order to make an informed purchase. In a single year, this contributed to 3% of the GMV.

  • Routine Finder

If you don’t have the time or budget to visit a skin specialist, our automated Routine Finder creates the perfect skincare routine for you, based on the easy, click-by-click data you feed it. A first-of-its-kind in the industry, it provides a hyper-targeted shopping experience to each customer without any human intervention in the form of a sales rep or customer service representative.

  • Nykaa Network. For us, it was important to provide real-world influencers and advice seekers a safe space to ask questions, share concerns or dispense advice, and empower them to create their own content — and this was the crux of Nykaa Network, a forum that is 99% powered by the consumer. The content is entirely crowd-sourced. What’s more — the 5-lakh-strong community is entirely organic. On Network, our members benefit from chat-based forums, product tagging that allows a seamless transition from advice to the store, and multimedia expert video shorts. Our latest tech developments also mean we can conduct expert live chats that see massive engagement; 25,000 views and over 600 questions in 20 minutes.

Experiential shopping via tools & tech

  • Live streaming

Videos have always been a huge engagement tool for Nykaa, and we wanted to make it so our consumers could receive this content on demand. Masterclasses and tutorials now stream live (and simultaneously, if needed) on FB, YouTube, app and Nykaa Network — allowing viewers to interact with our experts and receive real-time advice from wherever they are in the Nykaa ecosystem. Since its launch, we’ve seen over 2 million views per video, with a 40% add to cart success ratio.

  • Watch & Buy video feature
    Using automated systems, the watch-and-buy feature gives viewers an experiential shopping experience. While the video is streaming on app, our systems map the products mentioned the in videos, throwing up related products below the player and allowing viewers to add to bag in real-time without leaving that window.

 Social media strategy

With an aggregate of 8 million followers on our @mynykaa channel alone, and a monthly social reach of more than 50mn, our social media strategy has been lauded by many for the creation of unique content that taps into the needs of our social audience.

A few things have helped take this strategy to the next level the need to personalise our interactions with our audience. To this end, we’ve always used in-house bloggers, i.e real girls for beauty experiments, reveals, swatch tests, etc. Moreover, while we did our share of the regular product promotions, most of our paid commitments are geared towards advertorial-like content and not outright advertisements.

While studies have shown that social media contributes to between 21% and 23% of all our purchases from non-paid channels such as direct, organic, we’ve always viewed social media as more of a brand-building tool. Given the many legs of the business, it was important to branch out on our social networks as well. Our @nykaabeauty channel tends to the queries and curiosities of consumers who are fans of our private label and @nykaabeautybook focuses on advice, trends and expert-driven content for real girl.

Aside from creating a rich repository of intelligent content, we’ve always placed emphasis on creating appropriate inlets for the content to create itself. Moreover, we work relentlessly to ensure our customers can derive real value from every asset — which in our experience is the true mark of sustainability in an already saturated content ecosystem. And Nykaa has been relentless about ensuring our content remains relevant to the changing demands of the ever-evolving consumer.

 (Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author. The facts and opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of and we do not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.)