Men’s Grooming: A Buzzword Taking Indian Millennials By Storm

Published on 08 May, 2019

Increasing consciousness among Indian males about appearance is driving a boom in the market for traditional as well as new grooming products. Many startups with innovative offerings are giving competition to traditional market players. The sector, at a nascent stage currently, is expected to witness phenomenal growth in the medium term.

The market for men’s grooming products, estimated at approximately ?21,500 crore (~$3B) in 2018, is projected to touch ?35,000 crore (~$4.9B) by 2020 , clocking a CAGR of 28% over the forecast period. Growing middle-class population, rising disposable income and changing lifestyles & preferences are some of the key factors driving growth. Additionally, easy access to cheap mobile data, coupled with availability of multiple social media channels, has catapulted exposure to global and local fashion trends in both urban and rural areas.

Shaving, particularly razors, remains a significant contributor, accounting for well over half the value, followed by deodorants, antiperspirants & fragrances and other toiletries. Improvisation of traditional products in the hair, skin and face care categories by incorporating new ingredients, such as activated charcoal and all-natural, botanical extracts like aloe vera, shea butter as well as essential oils, is increasingly being well-received.

Adjacent products categories, such as beard and moustache grooming products (for instance, wax, oil, gel, cream and shampoo) are picking up rapidly. Endorsement by celebrities is a significant contributor to the positioning of these products. For instance, Virat Kohli, captain of the Indian cricket team, is probably one of the biggest, self-styled ambassadors for beard grooming projects. Just type “Virat Kohli Beard” into Google, and you’ll get 3.6 million search results! He is open about his intention to not get rid of his beard any time soon, stating the beard products available in the market ensure maintenance is no longer a task.

P&G and HUL together command a nearly 30% share in the overall market. Gillette and Super-Max brands are dominant in the shaving segment; Fogg, Nivea and Axe lead in deodorants.

Procter & Gamble (Gillette and Old Spice brands) continues to be the leader in the men’s grooming industry, with close to 21% share; it is followed by Hindustan Unilever (HUL) at 8%, Malhotra Shaving Products (Laser and Topaz brands) at about 5% and Emami (Fair & Handsome) at 4%.

Gillette and Super-Max dominate the razor blades segment, with over 90–95% share. In deodorants, the top three are Vini Cosmetics (Fogg), Nivea and HUL (Axe, Denim, Rexona) that have a combined share of nearly 45%—individually, they command around 23%, 10% and 9%, respectively. ITC’s Engage and McNROE (Wild Stone) are emerging brands in this segment, with approximately 7% share each.

Emergence of startups in new, innovative product categories and business models has triggered a wave of acquisitions.

Several startups have made inroads in the industry, such as Ustraa (by Happily Unmarried), the Indian Grooming Club, Beardo and the Bombay Shaving Company. In terms of branding, apart from the key benefits that they enjoy, the startups are bolder, making no bones in flashing the names of ingredients on primary packaging, for instance, Neem & Tulsi, Moringa and Shea Butter (The Man Company); and Caffine, Choco Mint, Apple Cider Vinegar (Beardo). Traditional players, on the other hand, have a more conservative approach to branding and packaging. Startups are not only innovative in terms of product offerings but also more open to experiment with new models, such as online subscription.

To catch up in the digitalization race and gain from the runaway success of startups, local and multinational FMCG giants have been increasing their holdings in some of these companies:

  • In 2017, Marico acquired nearly 45% stake in Beardo, an online beard and hair oil brand. The investment is valued at around ?50–60 crore ($7–8.5M). By March 2020, Beardo will become a 100% subsidiary of Marico.
  • In February 2019, Emami increased its stake in The Man Company, an e-store which sells premium male grooming products, to 30%.
  • In August 2018, Colgate-Palmolive invested an undisclosed sum in Bombay Shaving Company.

Existing personal care majors are aggressively foraying into this space.

Earlier this year, fragrances giant McNROE ventured into the men’s grooming range via its sub-brand Wild Stone Edge, offering shower gels, face wash, hair gels and shaving foams. In 2018, HUL partnered with Amazon to develop and exclusively market online a range of beard grooming products (including gel, wax, beard oil, shampoo and balm) under the Brylcreem brand. Godrej Consumer Products too introduced its Cinthol brand of men’s grooming range, comprising eight new products in shaving, face care, hair care and beard care.

Macroeconomic and demographic tailwinds, coupled with new offerings, would support robust growth in the Indian men’s grooming industry in the near to medium term.

India’s burgeoning middle-income male population and its aspirations to lead a more fulfilling life would provide strong tailwinds for the industry.

Competition is expected to increase across segments, both established (such as hair, body and skin care, deodorants) and emerging (beard care, shaving), as an increasing number of players jostles to carve a niche either by launching new products or improvising existing categories. Disruptions in business models are likely as companies look to make services more convenient and thereby strengthen their revenue streams—online subscription services, for instance, could create stickiness with consumer bases, particularly in major cities, and rake in healthy recurring revenues.

It is, therefore, imperative for leading FMCGs to innovate and adapt fast if they do not wish to squander their dominance in the market to emerging players across men’s grooming products.