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A Boom in Men's Grooming in India

Priyanka Bhattachayra
  • As more disposable income becomes available and male consumers are beginning to shop more for themselves, the men’s grooming and personal care market in India is outpacing the Indian personal care market at large for growth.
  • Additionally, as more Indian men are looking to remain competitive in the workforce, they are seeking products to help them maintain a youthful look.
  • More male Indian icons, such as Hindi actors and cricket players, are working with beauty and personal care brands to encourage the use of personal care product by men.
  • Skin lightening and hair color products are among the most popular among Indian men.

Indian men are finally coming out of the closet when it comes to having a daily grooming regime. They are no longer shy of using creams, lotions, face scrubs, shower gels and so on meant for male skin. Grooming is no longer a quick shave, slapping on some aftershave and heading out of the door in India—it is growing into something more.

According to a Nielsen study on the Indian male grooming segment, there is a rising aspiration among Indian men to look better groomed, which has led to the Indian men’s grooming market’s rapid growth of more than 34%. The Nielsen study further showed that this growth is faster than the growth rate of the total personal care and beauty industry in India. The market today stands at about $278 million. So the time is ripe for beauty and grooming brands to make most of this growing male attention.

Every Man Wants to Look Good

The concept of a metrosexual man is now passé in India. In fact, the image of a man using a personal care product, whether it is an oil-control face wash or a skin-lightening cream, is rampant in product advertising. Popular icons who are overtly masculine—including Hindi movie actors like John Abraham, who works with Garnier, or Arjun Rampal, who works with Nivea—talk to male consumers in the market about the benefits of using products that will give their skin youthfulness and their complexion clarity.

Keeping with this trend, Indian role models are no longer just stylish men or fashionable actors. Brands are now looking at male icons, those who are known for their other achievements rather than just their style quotient.

For instance, Garnier associated itself with the Rajasthan Royals team during the much-followed Indian Premier League cricket championship, allowing it to showcase its GarnierMen range of products. The promotion included team captain Rahul Dravid, who said, “The constant exposure to heat, UV rays of sun and extreme weather conditions takes a serious toll on our skin. But nonetheless, it’s very important for us to appear well groomed at all times.”

That, in a nutshell, is the concern that is driving most men to the beauty stores in India.

How the Market Grows

Talking about this changing trend, Sanjali Giri, senior manager, product merchandising,The Body Shop India, said, “Men’s grooming has gone mainstream. Male skin care is one of the beauty industry’s fastest-growing sectors, with more men adopting a grooming regimen, alongside exercise and eating right, as a component of healthy living.” Also, a Nielsen study shows that the skin creams segment in male grooming grew at 41%—much faster than the overall skin cream category in India, which grew at 27%.

Giri adds that the reason the market for skin care products for men is growing so rapidly is because many more men are shopping for themselves, compared with a decade ago when women made most of their purchases. “It is observed that now men buy as much as half of male-grooming and other types of consumer products. This is due to [a much greater] awareness and the need to be presentable according to current trend,” she explains.

Interestingly, men in India today—and especially those who fall in the age group of 18 to 25—spend more money on grooming and personal care products than women in India. Nilanjan Mukherjee, head of marketing, personal care products business, ITC Limited, comments, “The aspirations and requirements of today’s young Indian men are rapidly evolving. With a surge in disposable income, men are becoming more discerning and indulgent. In an evolving trend in India, men are beginning to look at innovative grooming and personal care products created specifically for them. The segment shows immense promise and is growing faster than the overall personal care market in India.”

According to a recent study by Indian industry body ASSOCHAM (Association of Chambers of Commerce), Indian men spend approximately $100 more than women in personal care products. Also, many men—an ASSOCHAM study shows 85%—prefer to buy their own grooming products, and do not rely on the women in their households to do so.

“Rising beauty consciousness due to changing demographics and lifestyles, deeper consumer pockets, rising media exposure, greater product choice, growth in retail segment and wider availability are the reasons for sharp rising demand of cosmetics among India men, especially the youth,” said ASSOCHAM secretary general D.S. Rawat.

This newfound male grooming consciousness is also driven by reality TV, demand for male models in prominent fashion shows, and beauty pageants exclusively for men, Rawat further stresses. The demand thus is more in top-tier cities such as Mumbai, Bangalore and New Delhi, as well as second rung areas with a highly style-conscious population like Chandigarh and Goa.

Rakshit Hargave, MD, of Nivea India, notes, “Men in smaller towns are displaying greater desire for grooming increasingly, especially in the whitening and fairness segment.”

What Men Want

Indian men are now more aware than ever about the impact of pollution, regular shaving, and the sun on their skin and hair. So products such as shaving creams, aftershaves, moisturizers, face masks and exfoliators, hair care and hairstyling solutions are increasingly popular choices with them. An ASSOCHAM study shows more and more men are looking for separate sets of bathing and essential care products that include bath and shower gels, face wash, and deodorants.

Giving further insights Rahul Kale, founder of Iraya, an auyrvedics personal care and beauty brand, says, “Skin care is a fast developing subsector of the men’s cosmetics market, mainly attributed to a rising concern over aging. Men above 45 are realizing that they need to work [until] quite late in life and maintaining a professional appearance will be an advantage. Thirty percent of our existing customers are men.” With such information, Kale is planning to introduce a cream that addresses skin conditions that develop as an effect of long-term shaving.

Additionally, in India today men no longer want just clean skin—they want it to be fair, bright and spotless. This is what a study by Vaseline showed when it launched the Vaseline White for men range in the country. The Vaseline Amazing Skin Survey 2010 was conducted among more than one thousand 18–30-year-old Indian men to help understand what looking good means to them. In light of that survey, it was clear that what Indian men want is a product that provides “spotless” fair skin. In fact, the survey showed 8 out of 10 men said they would like to have a fairer skin tone.

Further, skin lightening and whitening for men is now all the rage. Emami was one of the first brands in India to bring a product to market for this, with its Fair and Handsome range of products—currently a market leader. N. Krishna Mohan, CEO, sales, supply chain and human capital, Emami Ltd., pegs the brand’s market share at 67%. The other brands increasingly translating this craze for fairness among men into a major business direction include Nivea, Garnier, Vaseline, Olay and iconic women’s fairness brand Fair&Lovely by Hindustan Unilever.

Additionally, besides skin and bath products, hair color for men as a segment has also seen impressive growth. “More men today like to go for hair color to not only hide grays but also for a style change. The need to look younger is driving many to this,” says Najeeb Ur Rahman, national technical expert, Schwarzkopf Professional. Indeed, according to a Nielsen study, the market for hair color for men grew nearly three times the overall category growth of 23%.

For Men Only

While men are now buying more grooming products than ever, they look for products that do not eat into their time. They need products that act fast. Talking about this trend, Rupika Raman, marketing manager, Garnier India, says, “The Garnier Men range provides holistic solutions that cater to the various skin care needs; the range is a complete package for personal grooming for men who are always on the go and cannot afford to invest a lot of time in taking care of their skin.”

Also, as the market continues to grow impressively, the brands that had been only associated with women are now nearly tripping over themselves to create products that cater to the specific needs of men. Says The Body Shop’s Giri, “Though the product range for men is not as elaborate yet as that available for women, it includes shaving creams, aftershave, deodorants, fragrance, and products for hairstyling and skin care. Manufacturers and retailers are fast catching up and introducing new products to lure male clients. At The Body Shop we have a dedicated men’s category, with products specifically targeted for men. Our men’s collection also consists of specific fragrance, body and hair wash, [and more products].”

Take the case of ITC’s Fiama di Wills line, which started with hair care and bathing products for women. It now has a full range of bath and body products for men. “ITC’s personal care business continuously seeks to meet the needs of the evolving consumer. Innovative bath care and skin care products like shower gels and face wash that are crafted specifically to address skin needs of the discerning male consumer are steadily becoming a preferred option. Products that refresh and re-energize skin are fast emerging as important drivers for the discerning male consumer,” says Mukherjee.

Priyanka Bhattacharya is a writer and journalist covering the beauty, health and wellness industries in India. She is the contributing beauty features writer for several leading Indian women’s magazines.

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