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The Mark of a Gentleman

BY Anupama Sajeet

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Q] The Man Company has in all its campaigns consistently stressed on the significance of being a “gentleman”. Was that a conscious decision to not be associated with the familiar tropes of ‘rugged masculinity,’ usually seen in the Men’s grooming segment? Did consumers’ demand patterns play any role in shaping the brand’s communication?
Absolutely. When we started out in 2015, there were hardly any brands focusing on men specifically, especially in the grooming category. To sharpen our positioning, we did a focus group study some five years back where we wanted to understand not just our consumer, but also the segment that we were targeting, which is millennial men.
We wanted to take a highly differentiated positioning in our communication, one that could distinguish us from the existing players, and as well as from other new age brands. And the insight we had was that we need to connect with men at an emotional level and not really at a transactional level, as was being done. We stand for the men who believe in being a ‘modern’ gentleman in the true sense of the word. So you’ll never see us being sexist. Neither, will we talk about how effective our product is.
What we have also realised is that millennials or Gen Z consumers don’t really buy a brand or product, they buy into the brand. So, they respect you a lot more if you have a strong purpose in whatever you do.

Q] What does your current consumer demographic look like? Are you primarily focusing on Tier I and Tier II towns in India, or are you looking to expand pan India?
At the outset, our brand was primarily targeting the ‘metro dwellers’ in the age group of 24 to 35. But over time, thanks to social media, we realised that the content we are creating is appealing not just to men in metros, but also to men in Tier II and III cities. In fact, for these men, we became an aspirational brand, and they started posting pictures online, tagging the brand. That was kind of an inflexion point for the brand, where we realized our market is not just limited to four or five metro cities. Hence, we started focusing a lot more on Tier II and III cities.

Today, almost 45 to 50% of our business revenue across different platforms comes from these Tier II and III towns in India. In fact, we run 65 exclusive business outlets, and 70% of these stores are in cities such as Lucknow, Dehradun, Mysore, Coimbatore, Kochi, etc.

Q] When it comes to marketing & advertising, where does the brand spend the major portion of the budget to reach its TG?
When we started out, it was clear that we were doing ‘category creation.’ The market was not too big as men were using products that were either gender-neutral or women-first. So, it was challenging because we had to first educate the consumer to create the market. That is what we did for the first 3-4 years.
Being a digital-first brand, a lot of our spends are on content creation, with a focus on digital mediums. In the last couple of years, we have started getting a lot of visibility on offline channels as well, through multi-brand outlets (MBOs). We treat them more as a marketing and branding opportunity because the brand gets to interact with a lot of consumers. So, there’s been a lot of investment in the last two years in the offline channel, which is helping us in creating brand awareness, category awareness, product awareness, and driving sales.

We also work with lot of influencers and have a long-term association with some of them, apart from having celebrities like Ayushman Khurana and Bhuvan Bam onboard as brand ambassadors. In terms of media, as of now almost 60- 65% of our marketing investments are online, while 30-35% of it are offline.

Q] According to research and markets, the Indian male grooming market stood at 643 million in 2018, and it is projected to grow at a CAGR of over 11% to cross 1.2 billion by 2024. If you talk about the Pandemic effect, what part of your growth will you attribute to it?
During Covid what happened was that one couldn’t obviously have gone to a salon or a barber shop. So, a lot of people started searching for grooming products online, and we saw a huge jump in online transactions, be it on our own website, or even at marketplaces like Amazon, Nykaa, Flipkart, etc. There was almost 100-120% spike in the business across all these platforms, even though we were not really aggressive on advertising. We also launched DIY products, leveraging on the searches for these products, and they gave us very good traction during the first wave. Post Covid, the first one and a half years were really good for online businesses. At the same time, the offline business got impacted a lot.

In terms of revenue, in the last three years we’ve seen almost 100% growth year on year. This year we’ll end up close to a revenue of 200 crore+.

Q] Coming to your International Men’s Day campaign, can you share the objective behind it?
We realized that not many brands today celebrate men. So, we became that one brand that has been doing Men’s Day campaigns year after year, focusing on celebrating the gentlemen in our lives. For this, as with our earlier campaigns, the campaign was conceptualized by the in-house team. The insight connected with all of us at some level – that it takes a lot to become a gentleman and one doesn’t learn about these things in schools or colleges. One learns by observing people who are involved in your life.

While trying to understand the psyche of our consumers, we had asked our TG (24-35 year-old men) a simple question: ‘How do you perceive a gentleman to be?’ It was not about ‘tall, dark, handsome,’ or about someone wearing a fancy suit, or about sexuality, or even education of a person. It was to do with certain values.
We have been getting positive responses from everyone, in terms of engagement and viewership.

Q] What is the roadmap ahead for the brand in the coming years?
I believe that it takes at least 10-15 years to build a brand that lasts long. It’s been seven years, and our journey is just half done. In terms of product innovation, I think we’ve always been on the forefront, and, we would like to keep innovating.

In terms of revenue, in the next five years, our target is to get to 2000 crores, which will require a lot of hard work and innovation.

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