Pink Woolf looks to tap into growth potential of male grooming market in India
The male grooming trend has taken India by force, with a current estimated market value of around Rs 16,000 crore ($2.22 billion). As interest in male beauty products soar, with industry body Assocham predicting the industry will grow to around Rs 35,000 crore over the next two years, major players and start-ups alike are looking to cash in. One such start-up is Pink Woolf, which offers men's grooming products at low price points and describes itself as an affordable premium brand.
On the prowl to tap into the sector’s growth potential, Noida-based Pink Woolf is planning to make deeper inroads in the Indian market and looking to raise funds in partnership with strategic investors. The sale of a stake to a fast moving consumer goods company is also a possibility.
Subodh Sharma, who co-founded Pink Woolf in 2018, talks to FashionNetwork.com about the challenges the brand has faced with regards to its launch; upcoming investments and expansion plans.
FashionNetwork.com: What were the challenges faced to launch Pink Woolf? How has the journey been so far?
Subodh Sharma: The real challenge was to get international quality in the Indian environment with Indian ingredients so we had to search a lot to find the suppliers who believed in what we want to achieve and can supply the products at the right price point without compromising on the quality. Other challenges included influencing a man’s thinking of ‘chalta hai’ ('it is okay') attitude and make him see the connection between grooming & confidence. Our journey has been great so far.
FNW: What is the USP of Pink Woolf and how is it different from a host of other brands in the men’s grooming segment like Ustraa, The Man’s Company, Bombay Shaving Company and others?
SS: Pink Woolf makes barber-grade superior shaving products and low maintenance, but highly rewarding skin care products. Our superior customer connect and experience coupled with educational content makes us different from the rest.
There is a difference in the work our competitors do and us. We are obsessed with quality and are testing with real customers across India to ensure customer acceptance and regular feedback and provide educational content that helps make a social impact.
FNW: What is your assessment of the men’s grooming market amidst the economic slowdown? How has it impacted sales at Pink Woolf?
SS: There has been a slowdown for sure and at Pink Woolf, we are overcoming them by providing value content on ‘how to enjoy using shaving and skincare products for comfort and increase in confidence’ and get the best out of them with value-combos. We maintain a high level of touch with our customers hence repeat purchase and spreading the word in their communities has helped us. Initially, our sales took a dip by 9 percent but since then we have recovered and are growing by over 25 percent every month.
FNW: What is the growth strategy for Pink Woolf? Any talks with investors/companies for stake sale/investment to fuel your expansion plans?
SS: Our driving factors for growth are – an obsessive focus on quality, customer care, ethics, and a strong value system. The rest we believe will take care of itself. Our biggest factor has been the user-friendly lifestyle and skincare blogs at Pink Woolf.
We are in talks with investors who have reached out to us to raise funds. However, our objective is to partner with an investor who can also provide strategic guidance and value-add e.g. in the supply chain, marketing, among other things, and not just provide money. We are at an early stage of our brand evolution and would appreciate such support.
FNW: Large FMCG companies are acquiring start-ups in the segment as they see huge potential for growth. What is you take on this trend and are you open to talks for a stake sale/acquisition especially at this nascent stage?
SS: FMCG companies entering this segment is a fantastic development as their better understanding of the products will help grow the segment. In India, men’s grooming is still a nascent market and will take several years to reach maturity in product and understanding. Worldwide, this trend has led to an increase in the market size that benefits everyone and elevates the product quality. Today, we are just scratching the surface with mass products.
We are willing and look forward to collaborations in the medium term however it has to clearly help both the parties in penetration and distribution with the overall aim of increasing the market size for personal care products. The formats worldwide are very different from the ones in India and this is an area that FMCG’s can help overcome.
FNW: What is the expansion plan for Pink Woolf going forward?
SS: We currently sell through e-commerce and we have begun testing at other offline channels as well. We will be available at selected multi-brand outlets and large format stores by Q1, 2020. Our products have also been sent to international locations.
Our growth driver will continue to be the education platform through blogs and videos as we combine an effective educative approach with our ambassadors.
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