'Latest trends in grooming are personalised offerings and a focus on sustainability. Many brands are introducing products which are sustainable.'
Gone are those days when beauty was just considered something which only subsided with women. Beauty is for everyone – gender has no role to play here. This very shift in perception has led to the buoyancy of the male beauty industry, which continues to grow at a fast pace to be on par with its female counterpart. According to a Statista report, the global male grooming market is projected to reach around USD 81.2 billion by 2024. In an exclusive conversation with the Financial Express Online Suraj Chaudhari, Co-founder and CEO of Zlade talked about the men’s grooming market in India, impact of Covid-19, growth of manscaping in India, latest trends and more. Excerpts:
What are the views on the men’s grooming market and what is the impact of Covid-19 on this segment?
Men’s grooming is still a 5-6 year old market in India, if you consider it the market which was created by the new age online first brands. It’s still relatively new and there is still huge potential for growth. The market which primarily consisted of only Shaving products, Deodorants and Skin whitening creams, now has products ranging from personalised hair care, beard care, skin, body, and even footcare. Like all industries, Covid-19 was like a brick wall to this industry, as the lockdown started, everything came to a standstill. With markets shut, no person on the ground, even e-commerce was made to be shut initially.
But now the market is recovering and we are seeing spendings like the levels of early 2020, and in some cases even more than that. Covid-19 has accelerated E-Commerce globally and India is not an exception, in the US, 12 months saw 10 years’ worth of growth in online retail, and India is not far behind. So many people have shopped online for the first time and we will see most of these people getting used to shopping online for good. This was the only silver lining, if we can even call that. With salons shut, and zoom calls on at all times, sales of men’s grooming products took off as Men needed products which could help them look good at home.
What is the core position of the brand?
Our core position has always been focused on Shaving and Hair removal; we believe we are pretty good at that. Since January 2021, with the launch of our readyshaver range, we have everything for everyone who is into shaving. We now cover the whole shaving range from readyshavers, system razors, shaving gels, aftershaves, for both Men and Women, also intimate hair removal solutions such as the Ballistic range of Body hair trimmers.
Given that the market is flooded with grooming products, what makes you unique?
We have always been very clear with our approach and focused on only shaving under Zlade. The ultimate goal is to make the word ‘Zlade’ synonymous with a blade. As you have rightly observed that the market is flooded with grooming products, it is very difficult for a consumer to choose the best products, and we have always helped the consumers to choose the best, by keeping a much targeted portfolio of products. As a result, we have a loyal set of customers and a very healthy retention rate of 30%. What Colgate is to toothpaste, Zlade shall be to a shaving blade.
What was your business growth in sales (M-O-M) during the pre-pandemic period and post-Covid period?
We have seen immense growth during the pandemic. Pre-pandemic we were growing steady at around 15-20%, and we hit our lowest numbers in April. Since May as E-Commerce was allowed to function we saw our historically best numbers in June and July, so much so that our products became sold out by November. This year with the launch of new products we have seen upto 100% MoM Growth in August from July and we intend to keep growing by at least 50% MoM.
Tell us about the hero products of Zlade which were in high demand during the pandemic.
Our shaving razors and the Ballistic Body Trimmer have been our best-sellers during the pandemic, as salons were shut for the most part of the pandemic we have seen an increasing demand for our products. As most people could not go out for a shave or a haircut, our products helped a lot of consumers to do that at the comfort of their homes.
How do you see the growth of manscaping in India?
Manscaping has always been a subject which is discussed behind closed doors, or not discussed at all. Even Men do not discuss this with their friends or partners but everyone does manscaping every once in a while. With Ballistic, we want men to be comfortable in discussing intimate hygiene and body hair. Whether you want to remove body hair or keep it, you should not hesitate in seeking products to help you do that. We see an immense potential in this market has gone are the days when Bollywood had actors like Anil Kapoor flaunting body hair, to him baring a clean shaven chest with six pack abs. Earlier Men used to be made fun of if they tried to shave their arms or legs, but now it is an acceptable practice and more men have started to remove body hair. But men still lack the proper tools for it, and the current offerings are either to go to a salon or do it at home with messy products like hair removal creams or painful waxing. Ballistic solves this.
You are venturing into the personal care category for women’. Let us know how you want to promote and leverage this in the market. What are the kinds of products that will be included in the category?
We have been meaning to introduce our women’s range since the past 2 years but the pandemic disrupted our plans and we have finally introduced the Summer by Zlade range for women. We have launched the category with a shaving focused portfolio and the current portfolio consists of the Splash Mini Hair Removal Razor and the Face and Eyebrow razor. I think similar to the issue Men faced with manscaping, women also had limited options while trying to remove body hair, and in most cases it required them going to a salon.
While we are aware that most women visit salons not just to take care of certain things but for the experience and indulgence, at the same time women should have more options. Hair removal is not something that women enjoy and we want to make the experience better for them. There is also the issue of pink tax, where a women’s razor will be twice as expensive as their male counterparts for no reason whatsoever, and we are addressing this issue.
What are the latest trends in the grooming segment?
I think the latest trends in grooming are personalised offerings and a focus on sustainability. Many brands are introducing products which are sustainable, packaging which is recyclable and an overall climate conscious approach.
What are the new products launched in the pipeline in the next 6 months?
We have always maintained a very limited portfolio of products and it is already changing. We now have a full shaving range for Men, which we will continue to add to in the next few months. The Ballistic range will see more products, specifically catering to Men’s intimate hygiene along with the current range of body hair removal. The Summer range for women will see a few additions, like disposable razors, bikini and intimate hair removal solutions along with pre and post shave solutions catering to issues like post shave itching and ingrown hair.