‘Man’-some hacks of marketing – Bombay Shaving Company

‘Man’-some hacks of marketing – Bombay Shaving CompanyBreaking the monotony in the industry of men’s grooming in India, Bombay Shaving Company is paving its path into the space of men’s beauty regime; after all, why should girls have all the fun? In a very short span of time they have become major players in this segment, and are solving a very interesting problem of ‘what do men want’. What to gift something to your man?  Check them out today. Raunak Munot, Co-founder, Bombay Shaving Company talks about their marketing hacks. Read on.

What inspired you to start Bombay Shaving Company?  

Having worked for premium brands in the automotive category in the US like Audi, Jaguar and Land Rover, the idea of creating a premium experience brand from scratch was always something that I wanted to do. When my friend and co-founder, Shantanu Deshpande reached out and apprised me of the opportunity in men’s grooming, I was intrigued.

Men’s grooming has been a very attractive category in India, growing at 20-25 percent y-o-y for the past 4-5 years. Some reasons for this growth and interest are:

  • Urbanisation and changing nature of jobs is leading to men getting access to running water, needing to groom in some way on a daily basis.
  • Men are life-casting all the time (selfies, profile pictures, social media apps like Snapchat, Instagram, Tinder) and it has become important for men to look good.

Specifically looking at shaving, there was only one major player in the market that held complete monopoly, so there was an opportunity for disruption. In addition, there were extremely encouraging stories of startups doing well in the US – Dollar Shave Club, Harry’s, Bevel, and etc. It seemed like a good bet to take.

After detailed consumer research, we realised that most men did not enjoy shaving. It was a boring chore that they would rather not do. We decided to craft products that turn shaving from a mundane routine to a meditative and immersive ritual. And thus, Bombay Shaving Company and our thoughtfully designed 6-Part Shaving System was born.

How did you get your first 1000 customers?

We got our first 500 customers through pure word-of-mouth and zero media spend. Two reasons for this beyond friends and family support are:

  • We had managed to get some good PR leading up to launch. We were on the cover of India Today in January and were prominently featured in GQ’s May edition. We were able to do this by fostering strong relationships with editorial teams and clearly articulating our vision with the brand. Of course, it helped that the products look stunning.
  • We had put a lot of thought into the packaging of the product. We wanted it to be a great unboxing experience since people were paying a premium for the 6-Part Shaving kit. We had several customers posting unboxing videos and sharing their referral codes, which drove additional orders.

We launched Facebook ads for about 6 weeks, post launch and posted videos that challenged people’s understanding of shaving and belief in multi-blade cartridges. This was complimented well with continued press coverage from men’s blog and magazines. We also ran a Father’s Day campaign targeting both men and women and highlighted the custom engraving available on the razor. We got nearly 100 orders from this effort and nearly 25 percent of them had ‘DAD’ engraved on the razor.

What marketing platform has been best to reach out to your target audience?

Facebook, by far has been the most effective medium for us. They offer the most in-depth targeting across interest and income levels, although it’s still fairly limited compared to what is available in the US. Additionally, we are able to test ads and campaigns at lower budgets and quickly scale, modify or pause based on performance. Their lookalike targeting has also been very effective.

The second is PR. We’ve seen that good press coverage has always driven good traffic and conversions on our site.

What acceptance have you witnessed in the men’s grooming industry after introducing BSC?

We’ve had an extremely strong and encouraging start, despite an INR 2995 price point. We’ve sold more than 4,000 kits in 6 months and had only 2-3 returns so far, for reasons besides product quality. People have appreciated the attention to detail and design in every element from razor, to packaging and to the unboxing experience.

We were unsure if bringing back an older technology at a higher price point would work or not, but we’re happy to report that several men have become complete converts to single-blade shaving. I think people have found our story to be more authentic. What differentiates us from everyone else is we realise that shaving is not just about a good razor, but equally about appropriate skin prep. And we have crafted a complete regimen that offers appropriate pre-shave, during-shave and post-shave care. We focus on doing things the right way, rather than technology for the sake of technology.

Traditionally there has been strong promotions done with celebrity endorsements for brand awareness. What strategy are you guys planning on taking?

Celebrity-endorsed advertisements have worked well for the women’s grooming market, because women will typically try 5-6 products before they decide which one is best for them. We believe men are naturally averse to celebrity endorsements and view them as unauthentic, which doesn’t bode well with the brand we’re trying to build. So, unless there is an opportunity that seems genuine coming from a certain celebrity, we will continue to showcase the product as the hero. We’d rather have ad recall from a smaller audience because of the product, than from a mass audience because of the celebrity.

It’s a rapid growing industry; you will have numerous competitions. What would you do to stay ahead of them?  

As competition grows, and we have already seen this in the past year, it will become extremely important to do three things well:

  • Create great products – the consumer will continue to become smarter and distinguish between substance and smoke, and mirrors.
  • Create a cohesive brand narrative to tell consumers an authentic story – consumers will need to be engaged in meaningful ways to drive purchase and loyalty.
  • Provide great service – consumers today stick with companies that listen to them and provide great service – whether it’s discovery of products, delivery experience or troubleshooting a problem.

In your market segment, what marketing trends will you forecast for 2017?

The internet has reduced the two big barriers to building an FMCG company – firstly, digital and social media marketing has reduced the need for large advertising budgets, and secondly the ‘direct to consumer’ e-commerce infrastructure lets companies deliver direct to customers and scale without investing in distributors, retailers and sales teams.

We will continue to see online shopping grow exponentially and more players enter the market. We will continue to see new subscription models as a way to make discovery and delivery experience as seamless as possible to drive repeat purchase. Celebrity endorsements will increase in this space so outsmarting the competition will become more important than outshouting them.

Tell us about your top content marketing strategies.

Videos have been a very powerful tool to drive interest and desire for our product range. We’ve created animated videos that challenge conventional wisdom around shaving that has driven lot of interest. The unboxing experience of our 6-Part Shaving System has driven lot of orders. These have all been product centric.

Second thing that has worked well for us is gifting. Our product makes for great gift for men, especially with the option to engrave initials on the razor. We have ensured we run interesting campaigns around Father’s Day, Rakhi, Diwali and holiday season. We’re now in talks with popular wedding websites to figure out how we can push this product as a great gift during wedding season.

Vidhi Bhargav

Vidhi Bhargav

Vidhi is a visualizer by day and a budding writer by night. You can usually find her doodling, reading or prepping for treks to the Himalayas. @KutchToBhi

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