Finally, the Indian male is ready for creams and potions. Male consumers are now demanding products that are made specifically for them. Previously, they were satisfied with using creams and lotions that their mothers, wives or sisters used. They didn’t really feel the need for a separate set of products. But habits are changing rapidly, and male consumers in India are becoming increasingly conscious of the need to look groomed in order to match international trends, and the market for male grooming products, including skin care, is expected to achieve significant growth over its current $185 million size.
The changing grooming behavior of Indian men is largely due to exposure to international grooming and fashion trends. In developed markets such as the U.S., the U.K. and Australia (which has even seen some success in men’s makeup ranges), male consumers are increasingly striving for a youthful appearance, as well as just looking good. In fact, men are generally becoming as pressured to look young and fresh as women. With India’s growing place in a global market and with exposure to multinational companies, Indian men are also feeling the pressure.
While women have long been investing in their skin care regimen and are willing to buy different types of products, men’s beauty consciousness has bloomed much more recently. Only recently, moisturizers were not common, and grooming meant a clean-shaven face, good hair cut and a nice cologne. But with increasing international travel and an amalgamation of traditional and Western culture, Indian men are seeking products and treatments, and are willing to try products as long as there are perceived results or benefits. “The male grooming sector is very nascent in India, unlike countries in the Asia-Pacific [market], but we see a latent need amongst male consumers,” says Vineet Agrawal, president, Wipro Consumer Care & Lighting, one of the leading Indian personal care companies with plans to enter the male skin care and grooming market.
Specialized Skin Care
While the market here is still nascent, one would think launching basic and general use male skin care products is the logical step taken by the beauty brands. But that has not been so. The big brands, when focusing on the men’s skin care market, have actually launched various products targeting specific skin needs. Much like Indian women, who have become much more aware and discriminatory about the type of products they choose, men are seeking targeted products. Therefore, the men’s skin care category is ripe with products for skin whitening, antiaging, oil control and other special skin needs.
“Till now, Indian men have been using the creams and lotions that have been lying on their mother’s or wife’s dresser, but they should know that a male skin type is different from a woman’s,” opines Yatan Ahluwalia, director, Y&E Style Media—an Indian distributor of U.S.-based beauty brand Susan’s Soaps & More, which launched the Steel skin care range for men. “They actually need products that can deal with skin problems such as dryness, razor burn, dark lips due to smoking and clogged pores. In fact, most male consumers are not willing to spend a long time in following a beauty regimen, so the products that are for men should do multitasking. For instance, in our Steel range, we have a moisturizing mask that can be applied once a week to clean the pores, remove uneven tan and deep condition the skin. Similarly, our lip balm for men exfoliates and moisturizes the lips at one go. It also takes care of discoloration of lips due to smoking.”
Large and well-known beauty companies and brands such as L’Oréal, Vichy, Biotherm, Beiersdorf, Issey Mikaye, Shiseido, Clarins, L’Occitane and The Body Shop have also tapped into this increasing awareness and launched products specifically for men. L’Oréal Paris, for example, entered the Indian market with its Men Expert range, which focuses on improving dull skin, razor burn and early signs of aging. While Indian herbal skin care players such as Biotique, Forest Essentials and Shahnaaz Husain have launched body and hair cleansers, masks and sun protection lotion made specifically for men, one of the largest beauty and health care companies in India, Himalaya Healthcare, is now entering the market.
“This market offers huge potential, and despite a whole host of other consumer product companies planning to enter the sector, there will still be space for more,” says Saket Gore, business head of Himalaya Healthcare’s consumer products division. “We will soon be entering the male grooming market with about five products, ranging from [skin lightening] cream to moisturizers and face cleansers. We are also looking to launch specialized skin products such as anti-acne and antiaging offerings.”
Whitening Cream a Trend With Momentum
While activists across India are raising their voices against the racial tone of current skin whitening advertisements, the overall market for skin whitening is growing rapidly. It can be said that the skin care market for Indian men literally took off with skin whitening products.
Beiersdorf’s Nivea brand made a big splash in the Indian media with its “Join The Whitening Revolution,” which shows men on bikes stopping over to freshen up with skin whitening products. According to a company statement, the brand aims to capture the success of the skin whitening craze that has gripped the Indian cosmetics market, especially in the male beauty products category.
Talking about the strategy, Kai Bendix, general manager, Nivea said, “The more than 500 million Indian men are a tremendous yet untapped potential for the cosmetics industry and for Nivea.” Nivea is campaigning to further increase its foothold as the leading skin care manufacturer, aiming to establish “whitening” as the term for male fairness products (“fairness” is a term that has been used for female skin lightening products for several decades). “So far, men are addressed in a very boyish way, and advertising is just circling around ‘getting the girl.’ We clearly wanted Nivea to make a very mature, serious statement to Indian men,” adds Nivea brand manager Sudarshan Singh. The company plans to be the market leader for male cosmetics in the next four years.
Shiseido has also recently launched a skin whitening range for men, promising to vanquish dark spots and even out tans, while Indian companies that have traditionally sold women’s fairness creams have launched male-specific skin whitening products. Market research conducted by HUL (Hindustan Unilever Limited) demonstrated that more than 20% of consumers of its Fair & Lovely skin whitening product are men.
Sensing opportunity, Indian skin care company Emami launched Fair And Handsome, and bagged India’s leading movie star, Shah Rukh Khan, as the brand ambassador. “Fair and Handsome [posts sales of more than $11 million]. Considering it’s a year-and-a-half-old, the brand has penetrated significantly in rural markets,” said Mohan Goenka, director, Emami. Markets in southern India show the highest growth rate followed by northern and western Indian markets, but the usage is still minimal in the eastern region where white skin tone is still seen as a feminine.
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.