The Rise & Rise of the Men's Grooming Industry

Shankar Prasad, Founder, PHYThe Indian market has dramatically changed in the last decade - an increased purchasing power, a constant flow of information in this newly hyper-connected & digitized world, the emergence of the modern Indian multinationals, and stricter compliances and transparency have thrown the market open to diverse offerings in a highly competitive landscape to cater to a consumer whose purchase decisions can be best described as complex.
One such ‘trend’ is that of men’s grooming products. It started at snail’s pace a decade ago and has now taken its rightful place in mainstream industry in India – with an expected CAGR of more than 10% in the forecasted period of FY 2017-18 to FY 2021-22, as per recent industry reports.

The influencers of growth

Having been stripped of its effeminate label, the Indian grooming industry is flourishing and a big driver for this growth is the men themselves. Regardless of generation or age, more men today are invested in their appearance, than they have ever been.
In my view, here are some of the catalysts for the flip the industry has seen in the recent years:

• Constant connectivity in this digitized world has increased the premium we put on grooming – and both men & women are drawing confidence from looking good.
• With global exposure rising, a crop of evolved, informed and involved Indian men has arisen. This means more & more dedicated male content on skin care and grooming tips, and it is further exacerbating the rise of this urban Indian man.
• Traditional views of masculinity giving way, and men are no longer restricting their personal care regime to merely shaving products and deodorants and are coming forward as serious spenders on self-care.

• The online market is growing rapidly – allowing easy accessibility, low barriers to exploration & entry, customer convenience & a wider range of product offerings.

Sellers responding to aware consumers

The virtuous cycle of demand & supply has given rise to new specialty brands and product categories that didn’t exist for men in the past.

Product segmentation - Products like moisturizers, sunscreens, beard butters, scrubs, face masks & anti-ageing products have been met with a favorable response from the male consumer. A new report by Orbis Research states that their toiletries segment is likely to witness fastest growth during the forecast period 2018-2023.

Surging startups - Along with the known giants in the beauty and skin care industry creating dedicated brands for their male customer base, the industry has also seen the emergence of several exclusively male oriented grooming startups in the last 4-5 years.

Expanding outreach - While independent brands are gradually moving from online to offline, brick-and-mortar still accounts for over 80 percent of male grooming product sales globally. A number of retailers have designed specific store layouts to meet male consumers’ needs in this category.

A successful example of incorporating grooming services at their outlets to enhance customer experience is L’Oréal and Philips collaborating in December 2016 to launch a popup barber shop at Singapore Changi Airport which has found favor with the consumers.

Evolving marketing strategies – Gone are the days of quintessentially macho brands marketing their quintessentially macho products to their quintessentially macho audience. Targeted, smart communication & content is addressing the needs of this emerging consumer base.

The road ahead

Demanding clean - The industry is witnessing greater emphasis on conscientious, cruelty-free and nature-based products. Demand for “clean” formulations which are free from synthetic and potentially toxic ingredients such as parabens, sulfates, silicones or phthalates will see an upward graph. Global sales of natural and organic beauty products are expected to nearly double between 2016 and 2024, growing from $11 billion to $21.8 billion, according to Persistence Market Research.

Demanding differentiation - The coming times will see greater innovation and more skin care brands launch even more new product formulations which are designed and developed especially for men.

Demanding transparency - There is a rising demand for transparency and businesses are being called out for false claims or unfair practices. They stand to lose customer loyalty and business which is setting the tone for better standards and more stringent regulations. Beauty & grooming brands understand the significance of assuaging the concerns of an intelligent and increasingly aware audience.

As the changing definitions of gender are gaining traction world over, the generalized world view of what feminine & masculine should look & act like is also undergoing a change. As cultures open up and societies continue to evolve, being able to keep pace with these changes is essential for industry players to ensure they are able to deliver products for the “new age” man.