By Suraj Chaudhari
According to a study undertaken by ASSOCHAM, the oldest, leading, and largest and apex Chamber of Commerce and Industry in India, the Indian male grooming industry is projected to grow at a massive compound annual growth rate of about 45%. In no time at all it is expected to reach the sizzling Rs 35,000 crore mark from the current Rs 16,800 crore. The data reveals the enormous potential of the men's grooming market in India, the importance of male grooming routine from an industry and lifestyle perspective and the furious pace with which it has expanded.
According to a revelatory report conducted by Mintel, the world's leading market intelligence research agency the regular Indian male likes to devote around 16 minutes sprucing up his body, 14 minutes on his hair and 12 minutes for the face. The amount of time invested rises considerably in the metropolitan cities where the pressure to appear one's best is paramount owing to the rise of the corporate and formal culture.
Big lifestyle transformation in the male grooming routine
Earlier, the average Indian man was more than content with the bare minimum in terms of self-grooming. There used to be one plain-sailing cream for the visage and torso alongside some ordinary hair oil brand that you would have found in most middle-class households. Now, the portrait has verily been inverted as we have come to terms with this drastic transformation of sorts. The present rage in the men's grooming industry is just a re-iteration of the revolution in women’s cosmetic and wellness industry that occurred back a couple of decades.
The humble barber shop under the sprawling shade of the Neem tree does not seem to fit the bill any longer. Men want to experiment, outshine the person standing next to them and in other words they are not ready to settle for that plain clean cut that used to be the accepted norm.
Today, every Indian man has his own interpretations of style and individual grooming. Pile on top of that the influence that the trending icons of today such as an Aamir Khan or a Virat kohli or any such personality hold over the youth. The younger generation widely seeks to replicate the charming looks of their favorite idols.
Male grooming routine influenced by fashion trends today
A plethora of beard styles from the hairy mendicant look to the chiseled stubble look, or the classic French cut, there is a lot going on. Add to that the innate tendency of the modern man to indulge in a variety of grooming and self-care products right from shampoos to conditioners to face washes and fairness creams. One can even claim that we have before us an age where men compete with each other in terms of appearing good and do not mind spending six hours in a beauty salon for that desired look.
It has become essential to look not just prim and proper but well groomed as well keeping with the latest vogues of an ever-changing fashion. The gender specifications of grooming and wellness that were hitherto attached only to women are now being appropriated to men as well.
Men's grooming market in India: Rise of new age startups
A host of bold-hearted startups are all set to tap into this growing phenomenon of male grooming.
They have not just shaken the established status quo of the hitherto unchallenged domain leaders but have also managed to carve a place for themselves in the Indian market and the bathroom cupboards of most men. The rise of these new-age start ups owes to the observation that while there were around five thousand brands which dealt exclusively in women's grooming but as compared with men there were very few names, so less that you could count them on your fingers.
Meteoric rise in demand and supply of grooming products for men
Nowadays, men compete not only with each other but with the opposite sex as well, in their bid to look good and well groomed. It is only in these present times, when a word such as 'handsome' reserved exclusively for the masculine has been replaced by a feminine adjective such as 'beautiful'. The global cult of fashion and wellness has triggered a meteoric rise in the demand and supply of grooming products intended for men.
Though the men’s grooming sector is an untapped market, there are many challenges and concerns. Many of the brands that are available in the market only seem to bank on the ancient and obsolete constructs of male beauty by equating it with fairness and the ability to attract the opposite sex.
Such an approach, arguably, does not seem to go the distance.
Industry experts are of the view that instead of concentrating mainly on the cosmetic and sporadic needs of a generation that is hitherto plagued by mindless marketing tropes, brands, both new and established, should redirect their efforts in creating products that truly address the realistic concerns of the modern Indian man. For instance, brands can address real issues that affect men's esteem and grooming such as hair loss, premature ageing, etc. Simply put, given today's lifestyle, brands need to rethink and rework their course of action through research and analysis and give men not only what they want, but that which they truly need.
The author is Co-founder and CEO of Zlade. Views expressed are the author's own.