Tapping into the potential of men’s grooming industry in India

Shantanu Deshpande, Founder and CEO, Bombay Shaving Company, and Hitesh Dhingra, Co-founder, The Man Company, join a panel discussion with YourStory’s Daily Dispatch to discuss the exponential growth in the men grooming industry.
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As this decade spearheads into shattering gender norms and stereotypes, a revolution is unfolding in the men’s grooming industry in India. 

The country’s beauty industry — ardently serving the women population with various products — is now making room for a slew of brands making products exclusively for men. 

According to Research and Markets, India’s male grooming industry is poised to reach $1.2 billion by 2024 at a CAGR of about 11 percent. The report highlights that online businesses will grow, owing to the ecommerce push post the COVID-19 pandemic. 

In fact, a growing influence of social media and an increase in disposable income for the urban working men of the country has transformed this industry. At present, there are over 177 new male grooming products launched by both startups and FMCG giants. 

In a panel discussion with YourStory’s Daily Dispatch, exclusive men’s product brands Bombay Shaving Company and The Man Company talk about the exponential growth seen in this decade for their brands. 

“We realised there is an opportunity to create India’s first experiential brand exclusive for men,” says Hitesh Dhingra, Co-founder, The Man Company. He adds ecommerce business has grown almost by 200 percent. 

Earlier, major FMCG players dominated the male grooming industry. However, more beauty and personal care startups are venturing into the space with distinct products for men.  

Shantanu Deshpande, Founder and CEO, Bombay Shaving Company, concurs and adds the pandemic boosted online sales. He says that it has become easier for the company to compete with big brands on marketplaces like Amazon and Flipkart. 

“Everyone is working from home, so the only real thing you spend on is your face, and that works for a company that makes shaving products,” he explains. 

“We used the time in the last one year to get our offline game right. I think, having investors like Colgate and Reckitt — who have massive offline footprint — we used the time to build relationships, go into stores, figure out the merchandising strategy, assortment strategy, and retail environment,” explains Shantanu on the pandemic’s effect on its retail outlets. 

The role of investors

Earlier this year, Emami Ltd raised its stake in The Man Company from 33.09 percent to 45.6 percent. With this investment, it aims to tap into the online market, which has taken off phenomenally in the past few years. 

 

As a startup, The Man Company dwells on the insights and inputs provided by Emami for its operations. “In terms of strategic investment inputs, it [Emami] has added a lot of value for R&D, getting the products right, and offline strategy,” says Hitesh. 

 

The Kolkata-based FMCG giant also guides the startup on its offline stores and supports its marketing activities, such as celebrity endorsements. 

 

Bombay Shaving Company is backed by two global FMCG companies — Reckitt Benckiser and Colgate Palmolive. Shantanu says as a startup founder, one is always wondering about the chances of business survival, and with financial backing, that mental block is diminished. Capital is a commodity, he adds. 

Expectations from this festive season 

A lot of brands are banking on this year’s festive season for demand to pick up. Competing intensely, Flipkart and Amazon have pushed up their sale to an earlier date to capture the market. 

 

The Man Company, Hitesh says, has benefited from this festive season sale and is already seeing a 6X growth, with an increase in ticket size.

 

In fact, outdoor categories like perfumes are seeing maximum sales, which indicates consumers’ interest in stepping out. Moreover, the festive season also brings a lot of pent up demand and opportunities for gifting. 

 

“Gifting for us is a big category because women still remain one of the main influencers when it comes to men’s grooming,” says Hitesh, considering women are the primary buyers for gifting men products. 

 

Echoing the same thought, Shantanu says Bombay Shaving Company is looking at a 2X growth as it expects the wedding season to pick up this year due to the cancelled weddings of last year. 


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Edited by Suman Singh

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