"We aim to get 500 points of sale by the end of March 2020": Saurav Bhattacharya

In an exclusive conversation Saurav Bhattacharya, President - Operations India, NHA Division, Ajmal and Sons sheds light on the perfume market in India.
Ajmal and Sons
Saurav Bhattacharya

What is your assessment about the Indian perfume market? According to you, what are the factors propelling growth in this segment?

The Indian perfume market is at a very interesting stage, especially with the young population that is looking at a lifestyle transformation. Perfumes form a very necessary commodity in our lifestyle. It’s an evolution from your very basic deodorant and India has lived through a decade of experiencing deodorants.

When we look at the conventional number, the matrices we see are that the Indian perfume market is probably a Rs.3000 Cr. and is poised to grow at 17% becoming Rs. 5000 Cr. But when we total all of the unorganised market, we see that the quantum that they are filling if cumulatively put together is probably ten times higher. These are not necessarily for the export market which means there is consumption happening at a much higher level than anticipated.

There has been a considerable shift from deodorants to perfumes due to the longevity of the product primarily. Needless to say, in the women's segment, there is a shift from women's deodorant to a category called body splash or body mist which as yet is not fully defined for men. But we do see scope for the next level of innovation in that segment. I think the factors that are propelling are better understanding of grooming which consists of looking, feeling and smelling good. Another factor is a better understanding of personal health. With India being diverse, evolution is dynamic across layers.

Kindly shed light on your current distribution in the online as well as offline space. Going forward, what are your plans to scale up the distribution? Is your products also retailed via modern retail chains available at Shoppers Stop, Central amongst others?

Very evidently the top 15 to 18 sites through which we are already penetrating and depth of penetration is critical for us moving forward as far as online is concerned. Because realistically speaking the top five sites contribute to 80-90% of sales. So width does not really matter beyond the point that your brand visibility goes up but actual business comes out of the top five sites.

We want to further accentuate sales online by driving our own website which is ajmalperfumes.in. Its work in progress, the beta is being tested and we expect that over the next 12 months we’ll be able to fully market it for consumer benefit.

Till then we aim to leverage ecommerce as much as we can. As far as offline is concerned while I did mention before about distribution, so we want to expand methodologically state by state. We want to expand our wholesale points across the country. But I think the most important thing that we want to do is proliferate by brand need states, brand price point across departmental stores. There would be a higher price point which would go to departmental stores which are relatively premium.

 

We have already tied up with some of leading department chains. Going forward as we establish lower price points, we wish to be adjacent to the FMCG industry, in markets, opportunities which are hypermarkets. We also see that it is an opportunity space. Needless to say, this is work under development so we go to 10 chains and 10 supermarkets. But very clearly we want to ensure that we are placed everywhere satisfying a consumer need within arms length of desire. Another point to add, given that we understand the product well, we see a multitude of opportunities across channels. For example Olfactor is emerging and we want to leverage that opportunity. We also see a lot of gifting at the institutional level and fragrances for the automobile industry. Partnering with brands and people through licensing, co-branding or private label is one opportunity to latch on to as it gives you enormous coverage. These are the broad opportunity areas that we at Ajmal see and seek.

Who do you see as your competition within the same space?

Honestly, its a very tricky question. The answer is anybody who makes a fragrant product is a competition and not necessarily limited to fragrances alone. Even an incense manufacturer is a competition. However, if we look at the space of perfumes only, I think the real competition is none because as I mentioned before there is no single player that does bush-to-brand. So in that context, our opportunity areas lie in sourcing, manufacturing, filling, manufacturing and co-developing for others. So realistically speaking, while there are several players in the market, there is no single player that can be identified. However, there are prolific players by band. For example, Rs. 4000 and above has a particular segment and so does Rs. 2500 to Rs. 4000. Also not forgetting the unbranded, low branded, unknown, local level perfume players in the price brand between Rs.400 to Rs.1000.

Have you ever introduced licensed or co-branded ranges? If yes, then please provide the details?

We are in deep discussion both on license and co-branded ranges. It will be a little premature currently to comment about it. We will surely be able to share the details in less than half a year and maybe even 3 months. We are nearing a closure on a couple of very important partnerships here and we will comment about it once we are formerly in position to do so.

Kindly also shed light on your starting and exiting price points and best seller ranges?

Our offerings range between Rs 1000 - Rs 17500, giving you the ability to choose between affordable and premium perfumes. In India we have several products that are widely accepted, like our A series consisting of Amber Wood, Patchouli Wood, Rose Wood & Amber Musc, Aristocrat Him & Her, Evoke Gold Him & Her, Aurum, Bling, Shine, Blu, Carbon and Neutron.

At last, kindly highlight your growth plans?

We want to expand our presence by increasing the number of outlets. So our first three years our objective will be to drive width with the caveat that we maintain a certain amount of saturation of depth. By depth, we mean the maximum about of sale a brand can get. We wish we to be at least 10x of where we are in the next 3 to 4 years.

Saurav Bhattacharya
 
 
 
 
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