"We aim to be an omnichannel company": Bhisham Bhateja

In an exclusive conversation with Bhisham Bhateja, COO and a Cofounder, The Man Company sheds light on the growth strategy of the company.

Tell us about The Man Company, the inception, and journey so far? Also, shed light on your entrepreneurial journey so far? 

The Man Company was conceptualised in 2012-13 and then, formally launched in the year 2015, when Parvesh Bareja,Hitesh Dhingraand I joined hands to establish a company devoted to men's grooming essentials. Unlike today, three years ago, the male grooming category lacked premium products. Until then, most of the products catering to men came from generic healthcare/women's grooming brands and had few variety and segmentation for men, leaving limited options for them to choose from. There was clearly a gap in the market and we were quick to realise the opportunity, and thus started The Man Company. Our range covers all vital categories- Hair, Face, Body & Bath, Beard, Shave, Skincare and Fragrances. All our products are SLS and paraben free; chemicals that are frequently found in personal care and grooming products and are known to damage hair and skin. Our products are infused with premium essential oils & packaged in a premium ‘Instagram’ friendly packaging.

Our journey, so far, has been satisfactory.  We have witnessed consistent year on year growth and have been working towards offering convenience and choice to our discerning customers by combining technology, premium product experience and engaging content. The Man Company has also been credited with many awards along the way.

Kindly shed light on the men's grooming market in India in terms of numbers. According to you what are the factors propelling growth in this segment?

According to recent reports, the men's grooming market in India is poised to grow from INR 16800 cr. to INR 35000 cr. by FY 2021-22. As per recent studies, Indian men are getting increasingly self-aware and are investing in grooming products and demanding more shelf space in the bathroom closet. They are constantly giving their time to improving their physical appearance in order to gain confidence and have a competitive edge over peers, in terms of both career and personal growth. A large part of the increase in sales can also be attributed to the rising awareness and the inkling to carve one’s own niche personality, so men are making a conscious choice to splurge on products crafted as per their unique hair and skin requirements. Besides these factors, there are also regional aspects, which yield faster product movement in certain markets. Kerala & Punjab are driving the growth for Beard grooming products where Andhra Pradesh & Telangana are buying charcoal scrub & masks.

Kindly shed light on your current distribution? Going forward, what are the plans to increase the distribution?

The Man Companyis a Digitally native brand.E-commerce has been our primary channel of distribution. In 2018, we extended our reach to selected premium salon chains across country wherein we offer premium salon services like Beard spa & Royal shaving therapy, along with retailing the range. It gives us an opportunity to let our customers experience the products and also adds credibility to the brand as Salon professionals are endorsing us.

We are also present at handpicked premium 250+ modern and specialty outlets in over 20 cities. These include Shoppers stop, Central, Health & Glow &Archies. Apart from these we are also available at Delhi & Mumbai airport and few selected malls through our Pop-ups.

In 2019, Our focus will be to consolidate our offline presence & continue to grow on e-commerce.

Kindly shed light on your best performing product categories and average bill size? Going forward, what are the plans to increase the category line? Also, shed light on your starting and exiting price points?

The Man Company offers a head to toe range of grooming essentials, specially formulated for Indian men to make sure every man is at its best. It’s difficult to pin point at one category since our customers have been loyal to us and been loving all our products but if I had do pick would probably say that Charcoal product series and our latest launch The Defence Theory has received amazing reception. Beard grooming range has been in trend for last three years and continues to stay relevant.

This winter, we launched an all-new range of skin & scalp care products titled ‘The Defence Theory’. Defence Theory is a range of hardworking products tailor made for hardworking gentleman. The range features top of the line products that have been skilfully crafted in Canada & are free of harmful chemicals.. The products come with a natural score, which indicate the exact percentage of natural ingredients used.

In Beard category, we own 30% of market share with an average bill size of Rs 600.

The starting price point of the brand is Rs 250 and ranges till Rs 2200 for individual products. We offer curated grooming kits which ranges from Rs 1500 to Rs 5000.

We constantly strive to listen to our customers and understand there feedback, who better to tell us what customers need and other market gaps than our customers themselves.

According to you what are the major retail challenges as far as men's grooming category is concerned?

We were one of the first digital-native brands focussed only on men in India. We realized the importance of offering chemical-free products in very premium packaging at an affordable price. As a result, all our products are based on effective essential oils. We have been innovating a lot on ingredients as well as products. We are the pioneers in beard grooming category and were the first brand to launch six products with activated charcoal as the main ingredient. Unlike typical e-commerce business, we are an omnichannel business where a customer may interact with the brand first at our store and later buy from any other channel partner. We try our best to offer the consistent brand and product experience however, the transition is not that easy and I would consider that to be the biggest challenge for us.

Who do you see as your biggest competitor so far?

Male Grooming Industry is still at its very nascent stage in India and we have only just begun to understand the market and the gaps. Therefore, there is a lot of place for all of us grow and expand the market. The penetration of these grooming products is nowhere near to our western counterparts.

At last, kindly highlight your growth plans?

In Beard grooming category, we own 30% of market share. In premium men’s grooming, there are no dominant layer and we are aiming to be the leader with 25-30% market share.

We have been achieving over 200% yearly growth for the past two years without high cash burn. Our revenue per employee must be the highest amongst our peers. We are aiming to be at a Rs. 100 cr annualised run rate by end of 2019.


Bhisham Bhateja