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From The Man Company to Bombay Shaving Company; how the men’s grooming category is growing

Devika Singh
Beardo has introduced a lip balm and lip lightener for men, apart from skin care and hair care products.

From deodorants and hair gels back in the day to a whole array of products suited to men - the men's groming category has got a major face lift. A Deloitte report estimates that the men's grooming category would grow at a CAGR of 45% to reach `35,000 crore by 2021.

While a few years ago, deodorants or beard care products were all the rage, today there are extensive body care products, too, for men. As per a Nielsen report, as many as 177 new male grooming brands/ variants were launched in the country between March 2018 and March 2019. In fact, specialised products for body (17.1%) and hair (20.4%) are growing twice as fast as the traditional male grooming products.

Beyond beard care

Companies such as The Man Company backed by Emami, Bombay Shaving Company backed by Colgate-Palmolive, and Beardo, that launched a slew of beard care products, are now entering niche categories. For example, Beardo has introduced a lip balm and lip lightener for men, apart from skin care and hair care products.

"We found that men were looking for non-fruity lip balms and, hence, launched the choco mint flavour. Similarly, a lot of men who smoke get dark lips and that's why we introduced the lip lightener," says Ashutosh Valani, founder of Beardo. Lip balms, he says, are one of the top three selling products during winter for the company.

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The Man Company has gone a step further and launched intimate care products such as anti-sweat lotion and anti-chafing cream for men, and plans to launch more products within the category next year.

The bigger companies, too, are rising to the occasion. Cinthol, owned by Godrej Consumer Products, offers products across categories such as hair, face, beard and body. Hygiene products manufacturer RB, formerly Reckitt Benckiser, recently forayed into the male grooming segment with a hair removal cream for men. "From Google searches to e-commerce sites, a huge number of people had been asking about our men's products," says Pankaj Duhan, chief marketing officer, RB South Asia Health, on launching Veet Men.

To market these products, brands are tapping sports and men's magazines, social media, launching sampling initiatives and partnering with bike rallies, etc.

Men vs vanity

Will it be easy for these brands to find acceptance among men in general? According to Anurag Mathur, leader-retail and consumer goods, PwC India, it will require some convincing on the brand's part that "it is alright to use these products". "Products for hair removal or skin care are usually not used in the confines of a home," Mathur adds.

Pricing will be a major deciding factor for trials. While the start-ups have priced these products in the premium range, starting at `700, the bigger companies have priced them below `300. "Since these products are new to the market, they need to be optimally priced to gain wider acceptance," says Anil Talreja, partner, Deloitte India.

Given that the Indian retail landscape is dominated by general trade stores, finding a place for these specialised products could be a hindrance. "The retailer has to take out something from the shelf to introduce something new. Executing this will be difficult for these brands," says Abheek Singhi, senior partner and MD, Boston Consulting Group.