Aiming to address the growing need for easily accessible and affordable cosmetics in Indonesia, Sociolla is one of the country’s first online beauty and cosmetics brands.

In 2014, with a thriving economy and rising prosperity, disposable incomes across Indonesia were on the rise. Girls and women, even those from small communities, became increasingly interested in beauty and cosmetics products that were normally only available in highly populated areas like Jakarta and Bali. The founders of Sociolla believed e-commerce was an excellent way to meet this demand, so they created a brand rooted in the idea that every girl and woman should have the same access to affordable beauty and cosmetics.

Today, Sociolla has both online and offline stores and functions as a third-party retail platform for local and international labels. Its offline store in Vietnam, which just opened, is its first outside Indonesia.

Recently, spoke to Sociolla’s Chief Finance Officer, Easy Arisarwindha, to understand how Indonesian e-commerce businesses overcame the challenges of the pandemic. The main takeaway from the conversation was that the companies that succeeded focused on the advantages they had as local online brands.

The following are key insights from the discussion:

Local Knowledge

In Indonesia, global brands like L’Oréal Paris and Clinique, use large budgets to generate customer engagement. Local brands like Sociolla, use their extensive knowledge of the Indonesian consumer to compete. This was especially true when the pandemic hit. The Sociolla team leveraged its stronger understanding of local consumer trends (like what colours and shades customers currently wanted) to create more engaging marketing as well as to make their website more appealing.

Another example of local brands using local knowledge to compete can be found in vegan and sustainable beauty. Global brands do not currently consider Indonesia a suitable market for these kinds of beauty products. However, ‘ear-to-the-ground’ local brands know these types of products are becoming increasingly popular and are quickly responding to fill the gap. Sociolla already sells vegan and sustainable products, such as cold pressed juices for haircare.


Online local brands in Indonesia are also much more flexible than the competition because they listen to and accommodate customer needs quickly and effectively. They can rapidly develop and deploy products girls and women want immediately.

When COVID-19 struck Indonesia, it was expected that demand for beauty and cosmetics products would drop significantly. Nonetheless, the Sociolla team soon realized that certain consumer needs would continue, such as a good face and shower routine to look and feel good even at home.

Using this insight, Sociolla immediately changed their ad campaigns from marketing lipsticks to marketing skin care products under the campaign “Glow at Home.” The campaign was a major success and drove new online content that engaged Indonesians despite the many sensitives associated with the pandemic. An example of this was the ‘Glow at Home’ beauty and skincare guides, which consumers enjoyed and wanted more of.

Future Success Online

To succeed in Indonesia’s growing e-commerce space, brands will need to continue to be insightful and flexible with regards to accommodating customers’ needs. Understanding what they want, when they want it and how they want it in real-time is only going to become more critical, especially for marketing and customer experience and engagement teams.

Online brands in Indonesia cannot sit back and wait to hear about customer preferences from external parties like consultancies or research organizations. They need to be in direct contact with customers and learn about what they want now through communication channels like messaging and social media comments.

E-commerce in Indonesia is all about ‘local’. It’s about keeping up with the changing tastes and preferences of consumers and delivering high quality, sustainable products that shoppers want now.

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