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In-depth: Men’s grooming category and the potential it holds

For the longest time, grooming was not considered manly enough but with increasing disposable income, a more beauty conscious male population and the rise of social media, men’s grooming is turning out to be one of the most lucrative categories in the country

There was a time when the words grooming and men were mutually exclusive. It was not considered manly to worry about looking good and taking care of one’s appearance. But with the rise of the metrosexual man, words such as grooming, skin care and hair care started to enter the lexicon of men as well. With the number of products targeted at men cluttering the market now, men’s grooming has turned into a lucrative category for brands.

According to a Nilsen report, the men’s grooming category is currently Rs 5,000 crore strong. It is expected to grow at a CAGR of 45% to touch Rs 35,000 crore in next three years, i.e., 2022, as per the latest Assocham report.

The reasons for the increasing demand for men’s grooming products are many, ranging from a more beauty consciousness male population to social media.

Mohan Goenka

“Increasing disposable income, growing consciousness to look good, strong investments by brands and influencers like celebrities laid a strong foundation for the category to continue its growth momentum over the next five years. With the rise of social media, the need for instant transformation among the selfie generation is a further enabler in triggering product usage to look good,” said Mohan Goenka, Director, Emami Limited.

On the back of increasing per capita income and urbanisation, the market grew over 45 per cent in the last five years alone, states the Assocham report.

Another reason the category is pegged to clock double-digit growth is because of the immense potential the category holds.

“Men’s grooming is one of the most promising spaces in the country. The segment is nascent with very low penetration in most high potential categories. Men’s fairness cream has 4% household penetration and men’s face wash has about 2% penetration, while the need spaces they operate in are significantly larger,” said Goenka.

While the most active adopters of the category still remain youngsters, the rise of the young professionals and significant increase in their spending power has led to increasing demand among slightly older men too.

Mohit Saxena

“Typically, the most active consumers fall in age group between 25 and 45. Increasingly, we are also seeing this upper range pushing itself to 50-55 years of age as well and these are not insignificant numbers. We do believe that the group between 40-55 will eventually become the highest spend category and the 25-40 group will be the highest volume category. Brands will need to cater to both these segments and design products accordingly in order to leverage this entire growth phase of men’s grooming in India,” said Mohit Saxena, Co-Founder, Raw Nature.

Keeping in mind the increasing number of older men looking for grooming and skin care products, Vini cosmetics has launched a new product called Prepair 40+ Men’s cream. The product is targeted at older men and sells the proposition of continuing to look young, something that hitherto was only supposed to be a woman’s concern.

Darshan Patel

“The product was launched to raise awareness among men about taking care of their skin, daily. These are early days and we still don’t know how the product will fare in the market. Men, historically, have not resorted to skin care products meant for them but now men frequent salons and are interested in skin care regimens. This is an evolving category and it will take another four to five years to mature,” said Darshan Patel, Owner, Vini Cosmetics Pvt Ltd.

Apart from the regular fairness creams and other products, there is also a market for specialised and premium products. The growth of brands like Beardo, Raw Nature and Bombay Shaving Company is testament to this fact.

“Recently, Fair and Handsome launched Fair and Handsome Laser 12 cream, a sub-brand positioned as an advanced whitening and multi-benefit cream, targeted at young professionals who have arrived in life. The brand, priced at a 70% premium to the regular cream, is endorsed by upcoming star Kartik Aaryan. This has seen a very promising response among men, who are willing to pay a premium, once they see the relevance,” said Goenka.

The problem with the men’s grooming category was that men invariably ended up using products that the female members of the house picked out for them. This not only made it difficult to gauge the market but also marketing to these customers.

“Men adopt women's products in many personal care categories by default, as the products and brands come home as part of their shopping basket. We have been experiencing this on Fair and Handsome, which started its journey in 2005, as a counter-narrative to men who are using women's fairness creams,” said Goenka.

According to him, some of the key challenges of marketing to this category are identifying a sharp need gap on why a specialised men brand is best suited and better than women's or family brands, sensitising consumers on the relevance of men brands versus what they miss with general brands and reaching out and communicating this in a geographically vast country with consumers ranging from highly qualified to the rest.

But Saxena feels with the changing scenario, marketability is not going to be a problem for this category.

Changing demographics and lifestyle, coupled with deeper consumer pockets, rising availability and exposure and growth in both the retail and the online marketplaces have led to this surge in demand by men, for men-specific products. Now, ‘I am important too’ is a common resonating sentiment. Some studies have also shown that the women too want men to use products that are made with their needs in mind. Overall, the market is very conducive and open to such product lines and as long as there is a good balance between brand promise and product delivery, the marketability will not be a huge challenge,” said Saxena.

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