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Business News/ Companies / Lifestyle firms rush to cash in on male grooming
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Lifestyle firms rush to cash in on male grooming

The male grooming market in India is estimated to grow to Rs5,300 crore, a compound annual growth rate of 11%, by 2016

Photo: BloombergPremium
Photo: Bloomberg

Swimmers did it. So did athletes, cyclists and wrestlers. Then movie stars and models started adopting it. Now, there’s a legion of ordinary Indian men who have started saying no to body hair.

And companies manufacturing and marketing gadgets such as shavers and trimmers would have us believe that the trend is picking up in semi-urban and rural markets, too, with men getting rid of hair on their torsos and limbs.

While electric devices for men’s grooming have been around for a while, suddenly the 350-crore category is buzzing with activity and expanding at 30% year on year, said A.D.A. Ratnam, president (Indian subcontinent), Philips Consumer Lifestyle.

The entire male grooming market in India—including gadgets, soaps, shampoos, perfumes and other personal products—is estimated to grow to 5,300 crore, a compound annual growth rate of 11%, by 2016, according to a study by Euromonitor International.

Consulting firm AT Kearney estimates the entire personal care market as of March at $10 billion.

Philips Consumer Lifestyle, a division of Philips India Ltd, has taken the lead in this market, introducing several products in the past two months alone.

On Tuesday, it launched a new variant of its AquaTouch wet and dry electric shaver. Last month, it came out with a new line of BodyGroom devices.

Male grooming, a sub-category in personal care for the Netherlands-headquartered Philips, has grown at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of more than 70% over the past three years in India. And, about 35% of its male grooming products are sold in the non-metros, the company said.

Japanese consumer electronics firm Panasonic Corp.’s local arm Panasonic India has also expanded its portfolio by launching an affordable range of male body trimmers and shavers to tap smaller towns. Manish Sharma, managing director, Panasonic India and South Asia, said the growth of male grooming is also linked to the belief that successful careers depend on being presentable. Panasonic’s grooming products for both men and women are still a small revenue contributor to the company though, he said.

Philips, on its part, has roped in actor Arjun Kapoor as brand ambassador for its trimmers and another actor Varun Dhawan for its shaving category. The company estimates that it will spend about 140-150 crore on advertising, promotions and marketing of personal care products during financial year 2016. Of this, the bulk would go towards marketing male grooming products. Currently, nearly 25% of Philips’ marketing spend for male grooming products is focused on the digital medium.

There’s a reason why consumer electronics firms are jumping onto the male grooming segment with smart gadgets. According to the fourth edition of Philips India’s annual Stylescape survey, 72% of the women surveyed said they like men with a well-groomed chest. Body hair was the top area of concern that impacted their choice of spouse or partner, said 65% of the women in the survey.

The survey was conducted in March and was based on the responses of 450 men and 350 women in the age group of 25 to 30 in metros. The study also revealed that women don’t like men showing chest hair.

An older global study by Procter & Gamble’s (P&G) grooming brand Braun across seven countries in 2011-12 showed that few women have positive associations with hairy men. Just about 5% saw such men as attractive, 4% thought them as passionate, while 37% said the word ‘ape’ came to mind when they saw such men and about 25% termed them sleazy.

“Devices for men’s grooming are not new. But they are growing fast in both metro and the non-metro markets," said Ratnam.

He attributes the growth to the deep penetration of social and traditional media, which have helped in developing consumer awareness faster than expected.

Anurita Chopra, director (marketing-personal care) at Philips attributes the popularity of shaving gadgets to financially independent Indian women asking their men to be well-groomed, irrespective of the city they live in. “This wasn’t the case even two years ago," she said, adding that nearly 20% of the company’s sales come from online purchases. “Most are from the non-metro markets, even from places like Patna and far-off markets in Gujarat," Chopra said. To penetrate such markets, Philips launched a small-market-specific trimmer priced at 1,000, sold only through e-commerce websites.

“The non-metro markets will drive growth in the future. Thanks to e-commerce, they now have an option," said Ratnam, adding that the company will launch more products aimed at the smaller markets. At present, Philips sells more than a dozen trimmers and shavers for men in India.

According to officials at personal care companies such as L’Oreal India and its mass market brand Garnier, skin care clinic chain Kaya and Jawed Habib salons, men are spending more than twice what they used to a couple of years ago on improving their looks—shaving or waxing off body hair, trimming eyebrows—and on anti-ageing treatments.

Riding the wave, personal care companies are also launching products specifically targeting men. Garnier India, for instance, has launched four new just-for-men products in 2014.

“L’Oréal is a leading brand globally, but in India, Garnier works better for men’s grooming products. Garnier has the most expensive men’s face wash, yet it leads the market in this category," said Satyaki Ghosh, director (consumer product division), L’Oréal India Pvt Ltd. “Men have upgraded from soaps to face wash. A growing awareness among men has helped the products become popular."

Mohan Goenka, director at Emami Ltd, launched the Fair & Handsome fairness cream for men in 2005 after watching men buy women’s fairness creams in Andhra Pradesh. Last year, the company launched a face wash for men.

A top executive at ITC Ltd agreed that there was a need for more men-only brands. However, he believes that male grooming will remain a metro-centric phenomenon for the next few years. In the male grooming segment, ITC plans to stay focused on the premium and super premium categories.

According to Rajat Wahi, partner and head of consumer markets at consulting firm KPMG in India, workplace intermingling between men and women and increased awareness among men of body hygiene are the reasons for the popularity of male grooming products.

“This is definitely a fast growing segment and companies like Philips and Vini Cosmetics are growing aggressively, apart from global brands like L’Oréal and Nivea. As the penetration is low, the growth will be fast for the next few years," Wahi added.

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Published: 20 Jul 2015, 12:17 AM IST
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