The male grooming industry is expected to grow at a CAGR of 45 per cent to touch Rs 35,000 crore in the next three years, as per an Assocham report. While the segment has been largely untapped, start-ups like Bombay Shaving Company is eyeing 8 per cent market share in the industry. In a conversation with Indian Retailer, Bombay Shaving Company Founder and CEO Shantanu Deshpande tells why building a brand is a challenge and how they plan to make Bombay Shaving Co a Rs 1000 crore brand.
Most often, it’s not common knowledge that men in India are buying skincare or grooming products worth Rs 25,000 crore, while the market only offers exclusive men-only products worth about Rs 10,000 crore. So what are men doing to keep their faces and hair clean?
“More often than not, they end up buying a Liril or a Santoor, or any other product that the women in their houses use,” says Deshpande.
For decades,cosmetic brands in India never saw the need to make men-only products for Indian men. Although nearly Rs 70,000 crore worth cosmetics including skin, hair care and other grooming products are available in India, a lion share of them concentrate on making products for women. It’s ironical that when the beard-care market alone is worth Rs 100 crore, there are only a handful brands catering to men’s grooming products.
Tapping the unlooked market
In June 2016, Shantanu Deshpande decided to take the plunge to become an entrepreneur and founded the luxury male grooming products start-up the Bombay Shaving Company. The journey started with the brand launching only shaving products and now has 25 products in its portfolio.
Ask Deshpande how he thought he could convince the Indian men, who were okay using women’s products to buy men-only products, and he asserts, “There was always a huge market for men’s products and men used anything that was available at home not because there was no product need, but there was product scarcity. There was a certain need to educate and coach them about men’s grooming products, and we started off with the much popular shaving products.”
Deshpande stresses that the category was largely untapped because it was mostly unlooked and neglected. With a vision to disrupt the FMCG industry and own the men’s grooming category, the start-up has carefully crafted its product designs, all curated by over 40 designer partners.
Diffusing other categories
While Bombay Shaving Company started off with launching shaving products like razors and shaving cream, in the last 18 months it has launched products in beard care, soaps, shampoos and other categories. According to Shantanu, the company is seeing 30 per cent month-on-month growth and plans to launch 150 products in the next two years, from the present 25.
Building the brand, a challenge
Is competition from other start-ups a challenge? “What competition? There’s no competition!” asserts Shantanu. “With more brands entering the market with their own products, they are only making the men’s grooming product segment bigger, which means more men will take notice of these products. Considering there’s no brand loyalty as such initially, making the segment bigger is a good sign,” he says. However, Shantanuthinks building a brand and scaling it up is challenge as it requires more time and money.
“There are multiple touch points and reaching large consumer base is always a challenge,” he says.
Explaining how it’s important to have offline presence but retailers are skeptical to have new brands on shelves, he says, “You know, it’s like a chicken-and-egg situation. Unless your product is on the shelves of a store it won’t reach a large customer base and a shopkeeper wants to have only big, familiar names in their shelves. They have questions like who will buy a product if they don’t know the brand and such things, and scaling up and having wider distribution is always a challenge.”
Taking the offline route
Bombay Shaving Company is looking at different ways to increase its offline presence, but will mostly stick to modern trade at locations where there are relevant high footfalls, general trade stores and salons. “At these general trade centres, we are planning to launch experiential stores where people can just walk-in, pick up the product and leave. It will be smaller outlets,” he says. With presence in 500 stores already, Shantanu says they target to be present in 5,000 stores across 13 cities by 2020.
Grabbing the market share
While the company already has 80,000 customers, the target is to make Bombay Shaving Company a Rs 1,000 crore brand and own 8 per cent of the market, says Shantanu.
Backed by solid investors
Bombay Shaving Company raised Rs 4 crore in seed rounding from a clutch of angel investors and even went on to raise Rs 14 crore last year in pre-series A round. While the company has mostly utilized the funds to build new products and has ventures into brand building initiatives, Shantanu says they are looking towards sustainable collaboration in their next level of fund raising. “We are looking at partnering with right investors who have already built FMCG products and understands our business,” he says.