From borrowing products from women’s beauty care kits, the male consumer in India is finally coming into his own in the grooming space with products and services being designed to cater to his specific needs.
The famous Old Spice commercial, set to the grand composition of O Fortuna in the ‘70s (and for a long time after that) was a certificate for the male population of having arrived into manhood. Then, the women’s beauty and cosmetics category picked up steam and brands forgot men along the way for some time. The grooming brand’s connection with men was held together only by promises of a nick-free shave, sometimes a hair gel, and of course, promises of women chasing after them thanks to bottled fragrance. The market, over time, has been compensating for having quasi-neglected men’s needs. ‘Looking good’ is no longer the domain of women and mirror time is now being shared with our image conscious brethren. Euromonitor provides that the men’s grooming segment is expected to grow at a CAGR of 5% at constant 2016 prices till 2021 with sales set to reach Rs 105.5 billion in 2021.
“Moreover, the rising urban middle-class population and improved distribution channels in tier II and tier III cities are also expected to stimulate growth through 2020,” says Rajat Wahi, partner and head — consumer, Deloitte India. “Men’s fairness creams and face washes have less than 5% penetration in stores and deodorants, less than 10%, presenting great opportunities for brands to expand.” So what factors will propel this segment?
Making of a groomed man
The players catering to men’s needs have both products and services ranging from staples such as the basic must-have razor, perfume/deo or a face wash to the complete experience of dedicated grooming in a salon. The current agenda for brands is recruiting the consumer — make the benefits of a skincare or haircare regimen, however basic it may be, apparent to men and their upgradation into the category will follow. This is where L’Oréal’s Garnier Men sees potential.
Shalini Raghavan, chief marketing officer, L’Oréal India shares, “While some brands in the last few years have started to build fairness for men, we are not sure if that is what men really want in terms of taking the fairness route to enter skincare. For example, young boys are more interested in pimple care, oily skin and hygiene issues.” Garnier Men sees core consumption within the 15-35 year-old bracket with its line of facial cleansing and skincare products. Emami is another major player combining grooming and hygiene through its products. It launched Fair and Handsome in 2005 which currently has a wide portfolio under the cream and face wash categories. This was followed by the launch of the brand HE in 2014 for deodorants and a recently launched waterless face wash. Mohan Goenka, director, Emami, shares that an instant sharing culture online has built pressure to look good.
He adds, “Men being primary shoppers in most categories, coupled with the growth of modern trade stores, and impulse choice-making, push trials.”
It is important to note here that both Garnier Men and Emami’s products are endorsed by Bollywood actors with a well groomed image and the advertising itself is a far cry from stereotypical ads of before. WARC’s How to market effectively to men article notes letting go of the stereotypes as the number one success formula. This means moving away from images of men as ‘useless cooks, hapless dads, geeks or sex-obsessed lads’.
For the man who is well sold on the benefits of grooming and maintenance, warming up to electric grooming products is the logical next step. Philips’ male grooming range is targeting a growth rate in excess of 20% on a y-o-y basis in the organised sector. When the company started off in this space in 2011-12, the aim according to ADA Ratnam, president (personal health), Philips India was to recruit people in India into grooming and shaving. But the company soon realised that men wanted to have more facial hair. That is when they launched trimmers trying to recruit youngsters in the age group of 14-15 years and upwards in metros and tier I cities.
“We are seeing consumers moving beyond trimmers costing Rs 300-400 to the recently launched Rs 895 one. This sentiment of affordability of Philips products in smaller cities has made a huge difference,” says Ratnam. The ultimate aim, however, is to provide men with a complete grooming kit for daily use. Body grooming (started off in 2015) and men’s facial (soft launched in 2016) are two segments it is looking to pick up in a big way.
A grooming experience is a trend that is steadily catching on. Truefitt & Hill (Lloyds Luxuries) is one such outfit established in India in 2013. The brand brings in master barbers from London to train its staff, recruited from local barber shops, in India. Customers range from teenagers belonging to promoter families or large business houses, to politicians, business owners, CEOs and high level executives. Promotion is by complimentary vouchers and word of mouth. For the brand, membership brings in 40% of the revenue while another 40% comes from service and 20% from product sales in India.
Krishna Gupta, managing director, Lloyds Luxuries shares that in India, Truefitt & Hill’s service pricing is one-third of the cost of say London, Malaysia or the US, while the product pricing is slightly higher owing to duties and taxes. “In India, we have a 65:35 ratio of services to products,” he says.
A close shave
At a global level, until recently, Gillette (P&G) was the ‘best a man could get’. This was until Unilever upped the ante by buying Dollar Shave Club, a company that allows consumers to buy razors and other grooming products online at affordable prices. Closer home, men can choose products/services from start-ups such as Beardo, Bombay Shaving Company or Ustraa (Happily Unmarried). But how can such brands reach out to an audience which is yet to embrace the idea of daily grooming? Shutterstock in a study notes that men are more responsive to online ads.
A study conducted by CreditCards.com found that millennial men are more influenced by advertising as compared to women in the same age group with 47% men likely to make the purchase based on the ad as compared to 36% in case of millennial women. To get the attention of a male consumer, everything from the product or service to its communication and packaging needs to engage the target audience in a way that provides a solution to a need. Functional advertising, therefore, is your best bet, unlike women’s personal care communication which skews towards emotions to do with beauty. The time for promoting masculinity as the singular personality trait of a man is long gone.