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Grooming market: Men ditching the unisex range

By Rajat Tuli

Till now personal care in India has been largely around women-centric brands, with men’s grooming not getting more than a footnote. This is also justified because the men’s personal care market is not even 10% compared to the women’s. However, we are seeing changes, and if those are any indications the men’s grooming industry is set to bloom. To use the cliche it may have reached its tipping point.

According to the report published in Digital Journal, India’s men’s grooming market is expected to grow with a CAGR of more than 11% during the forecast period with more than Rs 31,000 crore market size. While a bulk of this is being driven by D2C online sales, there has been significant traction in online sales too. Even the tough-to-crack general trade has been receptive to products for men and now we are seeing repeats rising. Let’s try to understand the factors driving this.

Men’s product categories are under-indexed: Apart from deodorants, there is hardly any other category where there is parity in range for men and women. With brands offering specific products for them, a lot of men are ditching the unisex range or using what their wives or sisters were using. We are seeing this happen in face washes, soaps, and shampoos. All these are massive categories and there is no stopping a fair and handsome equivalent from emerging from each of these categories.

Men are now conscious of how they look and want to improve: Maybe they were always conscious but now they are taking definite steps to fix themselves. Mushrooming gyms and salons are all signs of the trend. In the last 2 years, specific queries on beard grooming, beard sculpting, or face de-tan have increased significantly at saloons.

Bharat is driving: Men in the non-metros cities of India are leading this change. With higher disposable income along with exposure to the most recent grooming trends thanks to social media, men are spending some serious amounts of money on grooming themselves. From Ankapalle in Andhra Pradesh to Phillaur in Punjab and Kohlapur in Maharashtra, a transformation is being witnessed.

Gen-Z and millennials are the growth driver of the grooming industry. From fragrances to face washes to beard grooming products, everything is being created to meet the needs of the new-age Indian who does not shy away from using an anti-acne cream or Vitamin C serum. They want sustainable packaging, no harmful chemicals, and honest communication.

The new-age brands are bending over backward to provide all this and more.

Influencers on social media are the new role models. The Instagram-friendly generation looks up to influencers and listens to them. A lot of grooming companies are working with regional language influencers in explaining product usage through videos. This is helping in building awareness and product knowledge. Till now men did not have any experts to ask questions or seek advice from.

This gap is being filled in by the influencers and is driving sales. The “One-size fits all” approach is long gone. Online and D2C have enabled brands to identify niche segments and target customers effectively. So products for specific skin types, hair types or ones that solve specific skin concerns are now readily available. This would be impossible to sell in an online-centric model but the online D2C is great for a long-tail approach to selling.

About the author: Rajat Tuli is the Co-founder of Ustraa, one of the first D2C brands in the men’s grooming sector. Led by his vision, Ustraa has become an established Omni channel brand. Prior to Ustraa, Rajat alongside Rahul Anand started Happily Unmarried in 2003.

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