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Startups Pick Up Pace In Men's Grooming Industry

Men’s grooming industry is witnessing the proliferation of startups who are constantly innovating and introducing new products

Photo Credit : Shutterstock

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A slew of online start-ups like Beardo, Ustraa, the Indian Grooming Club, the Bombay Shaving Company, and others are aiming to make it big in the Rs 5,000-crore-plus organized men’s grooming market despite the presence of big players like Procter & Gamble (P&G), Hindustan Unilever Limited (HUL), J.K. Helene Curtis (a Raymond Group Company) or recent entrant – Emami.  

Take for example the recent success of e-commerce portal happilyunmarried.com/ustraa/, a quirky merchandise company that started selling men’s grooming products (launched in August 2015). It generated a sales of Rs 10 crore in the first year and is now aiming to cross Rs 100-crore in sales in next 24-months says Rajat Tuli (a MICA alumni), co-founder of Happily Unmarried. His online platform sells a range of products like beard growth oils, cologne soaps, face washes, beard combs and lots more. Competing in the same space but with a different strategy is bombayshavingcompany.com (also launched in 2015). It has expanded into 25 Big Bazaar stores and its products are also available across 250-plus stores in Delhi and Mumbai. Today, Ustraa products are available in 1000 towns including villages and majority of their sales are online from their website as well as Flipkart and Amazon.

Raunak Munot, Co-founder and Head of Marketing of the Bombay Shaving Company claims to have more than 60,000 customers with 75 per cent of sales being generated online. One common point binding the two online men’s grooming portals is their successful attempts at raising funds from private equity players. While Bombay Shaving Company raised $2.5 million in Pre-Series A funding from Fireside Ventures and High Net Worth Individuals including senior McKinsey & Co executives in 2017. It is targeting an annual run rate of Rs 30 crore in 2018. The Happily Unmarried Company too raised an undisclosed amount in funding last year from Wipro Consumer Care.

Why did you launch Ustraa? “I was Tired of seeing men using the same dated products. And having observed the changes in their lifestyle, I decided to launch Ustraa,” says Tuli. But for Munot of Bombay Shaving Company, had to depend on the results of surveys that gave him an insight into the changing lifestyle of men. The survey results showed that people did not enjoy shaving anymore and when they asked people why they shower, their answers were pretty basic. “People just wanted to get on with life and were not focusing on themselves anymore,” Munot says. “We wanted to tackle this problem,” he adds.

The India Grooming Club or IGC (indiagroomingclub.com) is another upcoming player in the luxury segment for men’s grooming. Kaushik Shah, Director, IGC says, “We have grown organically so far, our products have been our strong USP. We have not incurred many costs for customer acquisition.” The margins are also high as there are very few established names in e-commerce in the men’s grooming industry. The India Grooming Club gets its products manufactured from Zymo Cosmetics in Ahmedabad, a local player in the skincare segment. IGC says it is growing at least 20 per cent per month.

Then there are a few more players in this space like Beardo (owned by Zed Lifestyle Pvt Ltd). It has also been garnering a lot of attention, particularly, when it recently signed Bollywood actor Shahid Kapoor to endorse the Activated Charcoal Peel Off Mask. Beardo, (beardo.in), like its competitors, sells a variety of products like men’s face lotion, beard and hair growth oil, hair colour, face de-tanner, hair serum and more but at much affordable price points. It was also in the news as the FMCG-major Marico bought a 45 per cent stake in Zed Lifestyle last year. Today, Beardo is actively looking to expand in the US market as well.

Surely, the already established players have already created a brand preference for the people, so how do these startups manage to compete with them? Munot says that digital evolution has broken some of the barriers to trade. “With digital evolution, advertising costs have gone down,” he adds. Tuli says, “Players like P&G and HUL are actually learning from us. Even though have a strong distribution, they are B2C platforms. It is only now that they have started going online and we are already ahead in that space.”

FUTURE TRENDS

Everyone has high expectations from the industry. In the next 10 years, one can expect to see proliferation from all sectors and bigger brands venturing into this industry. According to Shah, “We see a tremendous potential for this industry. In the next 5 to 10 years, we see CAGR of 50%.”

Many of the startups have also launched products for different skin types and this has further prompted bigger giants like HUL, Emami, and Nivea etc. to up their game. HUL along with Amazon is venturing into the beard grooming range for the very first time by creating beard oil, beard wash and balm and gels under the Brylcreem brand.

Most of these startups have outsourced manufacturing all over the country. Munot says, “Everything is developed in-house but we have opted for industrial outsourcing. Anything and everything, starting from the caps to product tubes are closely monitored by us.” Harsha Agarwal, Director, Emami feels that hair and face care products will be the growth drivers in this industry in the coming years. With the men personal care category undergoing a major revolution, industry experts feel that the market will touch the $20 billion mark by 2025.


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