Saumya Tewari

Himalaya Drug Co: Striking Oil

Himalaya enters the growing male grooming category by launching a face wash for oily skin and linking personal grooming with professional success in its new campaign.

As the nascent male grooming category witnesses prolific growth, companies rush in with more products for men. The latest one to jump on to the bandwagon is The Himalaya Drug Co, which has launched Himalaya for Him - a face wash range for men that gets rid of oily skin.

Himalaya Drug Co: Striking Oil
Himalaya Drug Co: Striking Oil
Himalaya Drug Co: Striking Oil
Himalaya Drug Co: Striking Oil
Executed by ChapterFive Brand Solutions, the two TV campaigns showcases two young men who face rejection on the professional front because their skin is oily. While the 'Campus' TVC shows a college graduate unable to impress recruiters during the on-campus placement, the 'Boss' TVC features a young employee failing to impress his boss. Both the ads end with the men using Himalaya face wash, a confidence-booster that gets them what they want. The tagline of the campaign is: Abhi toh bahut aage badhna hai.

Himalaya's move to enter the Rs 3,000-crore men's grooming market, which is growing at 21 per cent, is strategic. However, what caught our attention is how the campaigns link personal grooming to professional success. Interestingly, brands in the female personal care category (especially fairness creams) have been resorting to this creative idea and have been hauled up for it, time and again. So, why take an idea that is regressive?

Missing link

Rajesh Krishnamurthy, business head - Consumer Products Division, The Himalaya Drug Co agrees that 'personal grooming' and 'beauty' should not be linked. According to him, the ad highlights personal grooming and nowhere does it make any references to beauty or the colour of the skin.

"Perceptions of what constitutes 'beauty' and the psychological implications of not conforming to the social construct of beauty are serious issues. We simply wanted to draw attention to oily and dull skin, a common skin problem faced by a vast majority of men," he reasons.

Krishnamurthy explains that the company conducted extensive consumer surveys with men in the age group of 18 to 24 years of age before zeroing in on the execution. The consumer insight reveals that excellence in the workplace tops the priority list of young men today, well ahead of relationships. In addition, they believed that grooming is important to create the right impression in their professional life.

"The narrative of the TVC rests on this insight and shows the protagonist suffering from oily and dull skin. The product does not transform him into an instant celebrity or make him two shades whiter; it simply addresses a specific problem of oily skin, and helps him make a good impression," notes Krishnamurthy.

Explaining that young men have become conscious about grooming and are focused on their career, Prateek Srivastava, head, ChapterFive Brand Solutions says that is where they got the idea to link both the concepts, "Our communication magnifies the importance of grooming for men in a work situation."

Facing up to it

Created by Lakotee Films, the commercials are being broadcast on all the mass and niche channels including infotainment, sports, English Movies, Music, Youth and Hindi Movies & Entertainment since July 3, 2014.

The men's face wash category is estimated to be Rs 120 crore and growing at 40 per cent. Himalaya's face wash boasts of Active Boost technology (the company claims that it increases the rapid action of natural herbs), which is present in both the variants, Power Glow Licorice Face Wash and Intense Oil Clear Lemon Face Wash. It is priced at Rs 70 (50 ml) and Rs 130 (100 ml).

It is not an easy category to be in. Himalaya faces competition from brands like Garnier priced at Rs 160 (100 gm), Emami Fair And Handsome Instant Fairness Face Wash priced at Rs 115 (100gm) and Nivea priced at Rs 180 (100 gm). The company plans to expand this category by adding more face wash variants and also look at other categories like shampoos and soaps.

Krishnamurthy, who claims that Himalaya is the brand leader in the face wash category with a 20.2 per cent in value terms, points out that it is also the fastest-growing brand in face packs (17.5 per cent) and face scrubs (10.8 per cent) segment. "Our Purifying Neem face wash with 17 per cent value market share is the dominant leader in the category," he adds.

The Himalaya Drug Co's turnover is approximately Rs 1,450 crore and the personal care category contributes 38 per cent to its overall business. However, the major focus of the company this year will on the men's category. "In the next six-nine months, we may plan to launch a few more products in different categories and focus also on consumer-centric and interactive campaigns online and off," Krishnamurthy says.

M. Manal founded the Himalaya Drug Co in 1930 with a vision to bring Ayurveda to society in a contemporary form. The company's product portfolio consists of over 240 herbal healthcare, personal care, baby-care and animal health products. Its products are available in 88 countries around the world.

Lost opportunity?

Himalaya Drug Co: Striking Oil
Himalaya Drug Co: Striking Oil
Dubbing the 'what will your boss think of how you look' line as a 'strange proposition', Vibha Desai, independent advertising and marketing consultant says that since men are increasingly becoming aware of their grooming, the category offers immense opportunities for brands to play upon an interesting creative idea.

Speaking about the execution, she points out that the idea of a girlfriend having to accept how her boyfriend looks is extremely regressive. "One has to balance the need to portray masculinity and the need to portray grooming. Men pay much greater attention to their bodies, which allows for many opportunities for smart positioning," she opines.

Instead of linking it to professional success, she suggests that the brand could have used a proposition like look clean, feel clean or bring on a fresh take in your personal and professional life.

Mythili Chandrasekar, SVP & executive planning director, JWT Delhi says that the message in the campaigns is straightforward delivered via formula advertising. Problem demonstrated, solution stated. The scenes, she believes, are too standard and seen before, and the final line is too clichéd.

"He (the protagonist in Boss TVC) could have washed his face for the poor girlfriend as well," she quips.

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