Devika Singh, Moneycontrol
December 23, 2021
Male grooming products startup The Man Company, known for its online-first strategy, is looking at offline expansion for its next leg of growth. The company, which operates 28 exclusive brand outlets in the country, plans to launch 60-70 more stores by the end of this fiscal to gain presence across at least 100 locations.
“A lot of growth will come from the offline channel for the next one year at least, especially in Tier II and III cities where launching exclusive stores is a good way to introduce the brand to the consumer as shopping malls are weekend destinations there,” co-founder Hitesh Dhingra told Moneycontrol.
The company, backed by fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) major Emami which holds a 48.49 percent stake in it, is also looking at introducing its products in more multi-brand outlets. The Man Company is present in 1,200 multi-brand outlets which include lifestyle stores such as Shoppers Stop, Central and Lifestyle as well as hypermarkets, supermarkets and pharmacies. The company plans to be in 2,500 multi-brand outlets by the end of financial year 2022-23.
It currently draws about 70 percent of its sales from online channels including its own direct-to-consumer (D2C) platform and online marketplaces and 30 percent from offline channels. The startup’s strategy is focused on expanding its base in Tier II cities and beyond, which account for 50-55 percent of its sales even on online marketplaces.
“Out of our 28 exclusive brand outlets, only five to six are in top 10 cities and the rest in Tier II and smaller towns. For the new store openings also, we are going to adopt a similar strategy and only 10 percent of the new outlets will be in large cities,” said Dhingra.
The offline way
Several D2C brands have been eyeing the physical retail channel as they try to scale up and tap a wider set of consumers. Brands in the women’s beauty and personal care segment such as Mamaearth, Sugar Cosmetics and Plum Goodness are expanding their presence in the offline retail format. Plum, for instance, is looking to launch 50 exclusive brand outlets in the next two years.
Male grooming startups, too, are following a similar trajectory. For instance, Bombay Shaving Company and Baeardo are launching their products in more and more offline stores.
Devangshu Dutta, chief executive of retail consultancy Third Eyesight, said it makes sense for digitally-native companies that have achieved some brand recognition to launch in offline format for the next phase of growth. Brands in the 1990s for example, he said, who wanted to establish an identity, entered new formats or channels besides the existing ones. Similarly, digitally-native brands need not restrict themselves to online platforms alone, he added.
But he pointed out that these brands will have to address challenges such as ensuring availability of their products in offline channels. “In the online segment, companies can cater to customers with limited stocks. However, in the offline channel, they need to ensure availability of products across stores,” he said.
Apart from new retail categories, The Man Company has plans to enter categories such as sexual wellness and personal appliances. It has tied up with a marketplace for the launch of personal appliances such as beard trimmers and shavers and the category will be launched exclusively on the platform. The sexual wellness products, too, will be introduced on its D2C platform and later to other marketplaces and offline stores.
“We always launch a product on our platform to test it and get consumer feedback and, based on the response, we introduce the product to the wider market,” said Dhingra.
Launched in 2015, The Man Company caters to the men’s grooming segment and claims to have developed more than 65 stock keeping units. According to Dhingra, the company which competes with Beardo, Bombay Shaving Company and Ustraa will double its sales to Rs 100 crore by the end of this financial year.
Male grooming startups have of late attracted attention from FMCG companies. Marico last year completed the acquisition of Ahmedabad-based Beardo by buying an additional 55 percent stake in the company. It had acquired an initial 45 percent stake in 2019. British consumer goods giant Reckitt Benckiser Group invested Rs 45 crore in Bombay Shaving in February 2021. LetsShave and Ustraa are backed by Wipro Consumer Care.
According to industry estimates, the male grooming market in India was valued at Rs 15,806 crore in 2019 and is expected to cross Rs 36,402 crore by 2025, growing at a compound annual rate of 15-14 percent. Though growth was hit by the pandemic, experts are still bullish about the segment.
(Published in Moneycontrol)