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We Are Expecting 2X retail growth From New Distribution Channels: Hitesh Dhingra, Co-Founder, The Man Company

We are now expanding offline with more new retail outlets so that consumers can purchase premium quality products more efficiently and most importantly, get that experiential value by touching, feeling, and knowing everything about the products

What is the current demand for Men’s grooming products in India as compared to previous years? What is the reason behind it?

Until a few years ago, men had few options for grooming products, let alone in the premium category. Off the shelves, most of the products catering to men came from generic healthcare brands and lacked desired segmentation as per hair and skin type. We sensed the gap in the market in its early stages and were quick to realize the opportunity. Thus, began our quest for premium men’s grooming products, giving rise to The Man Company. Conceptualized in 2012-13, I along with Parvesh Bareja and Bhisham Bhateja formally launched The
Man Company, a company devoted to men’s grooming essentials in the year 2015. Our products cover a range of vital categories from head to toe, including Hair, Face, Body, Beard, Shave, and Fragrances. The USP of our products is that they are SLS and Paraben free, cruelty free chemicals that are commonly found in personal care and grooming products and are known to damage hair and skin. Our products are infused with premium essential oils and delivered to the customer in a premium packaging.

What are your strategies to target Millennials? What about GenZ demands?

Social media helps in talking about the need for grooming, the problems that men face and the right answers to them. Educating men about new products and their usage. All this content goes a long way in breaking mental barriers and making things normal and acceptable. We recently launched a campaign for our social media platforms with Ayushmann Khurrana where we have highlighted the increasing digital influence on modern-age consumers, the brand delivers a simple message ‘some things are best left to experts’ through light-hearted video content. In the campaign, Ayushmann Khurrana simply demonstrates the many nuances of digital influence, something everyone today is consciously and subconsciously aware of. But can everything shown online compare with the weightage of an expert’s advice? Well, that’s just it, right? Consumers today are looking for natural goodness that can encourage their confidence and elevate their overall personality. And we at The Man Company aspire to do just that. Our digital campaign revolved around the sharp humor of Ayushmann, who himself believes that some things are best left to maestros. In conclusion, we try to create content that resonates with the millennials and encourages or intrigues them to buy from our brand.

Influencer Marketing is on the boom. How are you leveraging it and What are the benefits associated with Influencer marketing?

It’s an exciting time for influencer marketing in India. For us, grooming or lifestyle influencers add immense value to the brand for the kind of ardent and loyal following that they demand and enjoy. They have proven themselves to sway the followers towards a particular brand through entertaining and informational content. They not only provide the brand more visibility but creative content pieces which mean more direct traffic and leads and thus purchase. The return on investment while working with influencers totally depends on the engagement that the influencer enjoys on social media. It is not so much about the followers since we all know that they can be bought but the actual test of the pudding as they say in how much the followers engage with the content. So, the ROI can range from 2X to even 10X depending on the quality of the influencer and his/her content. The coupon-code mechanism works so the ROI in those scenarios gets catapulted. We have noticed time and again on various platforms be it Instagram or Youtube the vast discrepancy between the followers/subscribers and the engagement percentage. There are various tools available that churns out exact data points to make a sounder call. The content will always be the king in that case. Better content, more engagement and it’s a win-win for both the parties. But one thing is for certain that for desired results, a careful selection of influencer is crucial 

What are the recent trends in the grooming industry?

Hair and skin categories for men have traditionally been dominated by mass-market brands with few functional products like whitening cream or anti-dandruff shampoo. So, there is a huge opportunity for a premium brand like ours to create a niche in these two categories as well offer clean, good quality products. For example, in skin care there is no brand that is completely focused on all skincare solutions for men. There are a few whitening creams but apart from that there is hardly anything. Hence, there is a lot of scope in terms of product portfolio strategy. This eventually proves the potential of the market. Consequently, a lot of large Indian brands as well as international brands are going to utilise this opportunity. A lot of large format organised retail players, who have just started warming up to the idea will look forward to a complete head to toe range for men. Men will be willing to pay a premium for brands that offer clean & good quality, 100% natural products and have a strong brand story.

For us, Innovation has always been the key to everything we do. Precise detailing in packaging of the benefits you can talk about, understanding the feedback and pain points of the customer since we are a customer centric digital brand. We are continuously researching the market and working on developing new products. In the coming few months we are launching a new range of hair care, body care, intimate care and wellness products.

What are your views on the ongoing scenario of the grooming industry? What will be the future?

The men’s grooming market was valued at INR 140.5 Billion in 2018. Until a few years ago, men had few options for grooming products, let alone in the premium category. Off the shelves, most of the products catering to men came from generic healthcare brands and lacked desired segmentation as per hair and skin type. We sensed the gap in the market in its early stages and were quick to realise the opportunity. Thus, began our quest for premium men’s grooming products, giving rise to The Man Company. This category is now expected to reach INR 319.82 Billion by 2024. 

What are your further plans with distribution channels in online and offline spaces?

After establishing a concrete mark on the men’s grooming industry, we aspire to initiate a more personalized model of communication by launching more physical brand outlets. It will help us cater to the grooming needs of our new-age customers more seamlessly while also strengthening their connection and engagement with the brand. The Indian men’s grooming and personal care industry is estimated to grow tremendously in the future and we plan to be at the helm of it. Our latest course of action, we have partnered with leading hypermarkets, supermarkets, and organized pharmacies working towards men’s grooming and personal care regime. We are now expanding offline with more new retail outlets so that consumers can purchase premium quality products more efficiently and most importantly, get that experiential value by touching, feeling, and knowing everything about the products, especially under the guidance of our dedicated team of beauty advisors. We are expecting 2X retail growth from new openings as channel expansions are chiefly responsible for our thriving business. It is pertinent to note that we have recorded a remarkable 150% growth in 2020. This includes 60% sales through direct channels and more than 1 million direct access to end-users. And this year, we have already witnessed 20% month-on-month revenue growth in the last three months. The latest expansion strategy is likely to boost this growth trajectory and take the brand to new heights in the times to come.  

What are the major challenges in the Men’s grooming industry?

The men’s grooming industry in India is still at a budding stage and we understand the market and it’s gaps. One of the biggest challenges has been to change the behaviour of Indian men who were just not involved in the category. As a result, they have been using the products being bought by women of the house for their consumption. We had to invest a lot in creating category awareness through content. There are a lot of places for all of us to grow and expand in the market. The penetration of these grooming products is nowhere near to our western counterparts. However, the projected growth of this category does give a hope of immense opportunity. As and when men realize that taking your personal grooming is not vanity but an actual need, simultaneously the market is expanding and exploding.

Source: Business World

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