The advent of men's grooming industry and homegrown brands in India

The men's grooming industry has seen a significant leap in recent times and homegrown brands have been at the forefront with their establishment. Let's have a look at how this sector saw a rise in the Indian market.

Hitanshu Bhatt
New Update
Men's grooming industry

With the shift in paradigm in the grooming industry, we have seen the emergence of a few men’s grooming brands alongside the already dominating women's grooming brands. As the scenario for the particular industry has changed from “grooming is just for women” to “grooming is for everyone,” Neeja Shah Goswami, CEO of a unisex grooming brand - Whiskers, shares insights about how this change was inculcated and what factors led to it.

Not long ago, people held the opinion that grooming and styling were exclusively women’s activities, and this mindset even hindered brands from entering the market, as they were speculative about the response from society. For many years, the women’s grooming industry was highly influential in the market as it made business and had a larger customer base. However, some brands took their first stride and launched grooming products for men. One of those brands was Whiskers, which was launched in 2019 when there were very few brands in the men’s grooming industry. Neeja recalls that they started with only 5 products in this segment, and now they have a diverse portfolio with products in over 3000 modern trade chains across India. “This is how the industry has changed from a handful of products to a range of options available for men’s grooming,” she adds.

CEO of Whiskers
Neeja Shah Goswami, CEO of Whiskers

The rise of men’s grooming industry

Neeja says that the men's grooming industry witnessed a significant surge in attention around 2016-2017. However, the market lacked homegrown brands catering exclusively to men's grooming needs. “Men were always into grooming, it’s just that they did not have many options, so they used whatever was available with any female in their family,” says the CEO. This was actually the scenario in most households because there were not many dedicated Indian brands that were only catering to men’s grooming needs. That is when brands like Whiskers are emerging to fill the void in the market. 

What were the challenges faced? 

The brands took a pioneering step in establishing the industry but it was difficult for them to build a market of their own as it was a relatively newer sector that they were foraying into. It was very necessary to create a community, and a sense of loyalty and belonging when launching something new in the market. The process involved a lot beyond just selling the products in a sensitive market like India. Customers and markets are hard to please to try an infant product. Whiskers adopted a strategy of gaining visibility and staying in the constant eyes of the customers by placing their products on shelves of some prominent retail stores. “Even this was not easy as we had to convince the stores to place our products with the already established global brands in the market," says Goswami.  Along with this, there was a constant need to educate people about the products and the segment in particular because they had relatively less knowledge. 

What factors led to the rise? 


While increasing awareness about self and personal care catalyzed the entry of new brands into the market, other factors like social media played a pivotal role. Platforms like Instagram and YouTube fostered a sense of community around grooming, with influencers amplifying brand messaging. This community-centric approach, coupled with authentic storytelling, enabled brands to forge deep connections with their audience beyond mere product sales. 

While emphasizing the point of constant interaction on social media platforms, Neeja also mentioned, “Previously, Whiskers maintained a relatively low profile on social media compared to competitors but has now embarked on a more aggressive approach to leverage its digital presence. This shift has resulted in organic growth, with Whiskers demonstrating responsiveness and consistency in engaging with customers,” she further adds. 

The need for a new approach 

While these factors have played a vital role in shaping the industry, there is still a need to implement a few things that would fill the gap in the market. The brand feels that there is a need to introduce seasonal skincare products tailored to different skin needs and routines because Indian men have different skin tones and that should be considered. While the brand has a separate niche for men’s grooming range, they are keen on building a unisex approach to grooming. They try to navigate the nuances between men’s and women’s grooming sectors. “Although we acknowledge physiological differences in skincare needs, we emphasize a gender-neutral approach, offering products suitable for both men and women, says the CEO. 

men's grooming whiskers grooming industry CEO of Whiskers unisex grooming brand men’s grooming range