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Just Shave it?

The first trimester in B-Schools is synonymous with “hectic,” as a gazillion things happen concurrently with crazy timelines. One experiences a gamut of emotions with irritation very likely to be a part of it. My pet peeve which contributed to this was shaving my beard every other day to maintain the “B-School look.”

Grooming for men is often looked at as a trivial task, something “for the sake of it.” Things are changing gradually, and a brand that has catalyzed this is the Bombay Shaving Company. They have transformed men’s grooming from a mundane to-do task to an experience to look forward to.

Men’s Grooming Industry in India

INR 114 billion, was the retail sales value of the male grooming industry in India in 2020. Men’s shaving contributes a large chunk of 44% to this value.

There was a dip in sales in 2020 due to the pandemic, but the industry is expected to grow at a CAGR of 15.4% by 2024. The ubiquitous impact of social media and the changing perception of masculinity along with the boom of e-commerce are crucial growth drivers.

The Idea Behind Bombay Shaving Company

Bombay Shaving Company was founded by Shantanu Deshpande, Deepu Panicker, Rohit Jaswal, and Raunak Munot in 2015. The idea was the brainchild of Shantanu, who, after a conversation with a friend about the growing men’s grooming industry in the USA, realized its potential in India.

After various discussions with family and friends, there were clear insights that shaving was seen as a mundane task of visiting the barbershops and not something to look forward to. The quartet wanted to focus on creating a delightful consumer experience, targeting the underserved and nearly monopoly market as a disruptor brand.

The Challenges

1. Breaking Old Habits

An Arabian proverb states, “Habit is the sixth sense that dominates the other five.” It was difficult to convince the Indian consumers habituated to shaving as a routine task to consider grooming as a premium activity. The price-value equation drives the Indian market, and selling shaving kits worth up to Rs 3000 was unheard of.

2. Offering the Right Product

The brand had to collaborate with experts from various fields like fragrances, chemical engineering, raw materials, and innovative packaging to shape the final product. They were focused on offering an experience to the consumers and not just any product. Customer feedback was given utmost importance as the brand lived by the principle of “our harshest customers help improve our products.”

3. Logistical Challenges

In the initial stages, the brand faced a logistical hindrance when the outer boxes could not sustain the weight of products. This was resolved by solidifying the outer boxes. The products are made in India but outsourced to local manufacturers, which are best-in-class. The brand ensures quality by ensuring supervision over each aspect of the procurement supply chain. 

Grooming for men is often looked at as a trivial task, something “for the sake of it.” Things are changing gradually, and a brand that has catalyzed this is the Bombay Shaving Company. They have transformed men’s grooming from a mundane to-do task to an experience to look forward to.

Typical 4Ps or the Marketing Mix behind the Success of Bombay Shaving Company (wait to know the 5th P)

The 4 Ps of marketing is a well-established concept first expressed by E.J. McCarthy in 1960. Well, then what is the 5th P that has been the secret sauce of success for Bombay Shaving Company? Let us find out.

First, let us look at the conventional 4 Ps, specifically in reference to have a better understanding of business model of Bombay Shaving Company:

Product: In the first 6 months, Bombay Shaving Company solely offered a 6-part shaving kit that took care of the entire ritual from a pre-shave scrub to a post-shave balm. They wanted the consumers to embrace the experience of shaving. Steadily building on, today, the brand offers over 40 products across various categories like shaving, bathing, beard, hair, and skincare. In 2020 they forayed into the segment of women’s hair removal products and presently own a pie of 7% of the market share.

Price: Offering Indian men, shaving, and overall grooming products at a premium pricing was unheard of a decade ago. Bombay Shaving Company has changed the game by selling shaving and grooming as a premium experience for men. Their shaving kits tend to fall anywhere between Rs 1000-3000, yet they have successfully taken care of the other 4Ps.

Place: The Bombay Shaving Company uses an omnichannel strategy to facilitate consumers to shop from any channel based on their convenience. 75% of sales for the brand are generated from the online channel through their website and various e-commerce platforms like Amazon. The brand has also been investing significantly in offline expansion, especially for men’s shaving, with a presence in around 10000 stores across 20 cities currently.

Promotion: According to the founders, the first 500 customers were gained purely through word-of-mouth. The brand did not initially rely on any celebrity ambassadors and focused on its loyal customer group to increase sales. Usage of social media platforms like Facebook helped gain traction along with campaigns like the Father’s Day Campaign that touched the hearts of consumers.

They roped in cricketer Ravichandran Ashwin as their brand ambassador in 2021 for the ‘Shave to Shine’ grooming range ad.

But there is a 5th P. It is time to unveil the 5th P. 64% of global consumers are attracted towards brands that constantly convey their purpose.

Yes, the 5th P is indeed PURPOSE!

Bombay Shaving Company has always been consistent with its purpose of offering shaving as a joyful and premium experience. They have gradually grown into other categories like hair and skincare to carve a niche for themselves in the market. Some of the branding strategies that have made them popular are:

  • Premium Experience: The shaving kits were packaged in a premium fashion to exude a sense of luxury and make shaving an enjoyable experience.
  • User-Generated Content: The concept of premium packaging worked wonders when users posted their unboxing experiences on social media. This gave the brand a lot of positive word-of-mouth.
  • Personalization: The users had an option to get their names engraved on the metal razors for free. The premium shaving kits served as a beautiful gift for their near and dear ones.
  • Emotional Marketing: To quote Dale Carnegie, “When dealing with people, remember you are not dealing with creatures of logic, but with creatures of emotion.”  Bombay Shaving Company rode on occasions like Father’s Day and Rakshabandhan to position its offerings as the perfect gift for fathers and brothers. They released a series of short videos in the #DadLogic series urging consumers to gift their dad a razor that is sharper than his wit.

In 2020 the brand weaved a narrative around the festival of Rakshabandhan, through the campaign #SurakhshaBandhan. The users were encouraged to share their sibling stories with the campaign hashtags and social media influencers were roped in to promote the campaign. A call-to-action of discounts and offers was provided with every post to drive sales.

So, What Next?

The pandemic has led to a “digital-first” lifestyle, with the Indian e-commerce industry expected to grow by 84% by 2024, expedited by the impact of COVID-19. Direct-to-consumer brands are at the forefront of this change, and Bombay Shaving Company finds itself in a sweet spot. The factors which indicate a promising future for the brand are:

  • With 75% of the sales attributed to the online channel, the brand is well-positioned to ride on the wave of digital adoption by consumers. Simultaneously they are also looking to expand their offline presence recognizing the fact that being one-dimensional is not feasible.
  • A foray into the women’s grooming category at a time when DIY solutions are in demand. The launch of the Defender for Her razor is a testament to this move.
  • This heart-warming video below celebrates the women who work in the packaging department at the warehouses of Bombay Shaving Company.
  • Capitalizing on the next big trend in the personal care product space, i.e., superfoods. Bombay Shaving Company uses superfoods like avocado, honey, turmeric, coconut extracts in their personal care and grooming products. These are rich in antioxidants and vitamins, catering to the rising levels of health consciousness among consumers.

With India’s beauty and personal care market projected to reach $32.7 billion by 2023, growing at a CAGR of 8.1 percent, Bombay Shaving Company has the potential to transcend from a game-changer to a market leader. In Short, the very unique business model and category Bombay Shaving Company is poised to grow exponentially in the very near future.


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Dipak Shenvi
Author

Engineering + MBA = Ticked. Stand-up comedy beckons next :p Just kidding! I love reading stories that unravel "behind the scenes" of brands that resonate with consumers. Trekking, reading, backpacking trips, Gulzar, Ruskin Bond, Roger Federer, and birdwatching are my loves!

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