Namah Chawla

The Man Company's new ad is a poetic tribute to the 21st-century "vulnerable gentleman"

A chat with Hitesh Dhingra, founder, and Rumi Ambastha, director-brand marketing, The Man Company about the campaign and male grooming industry.

“We launched the brand six years back. Our research then implied that men weren’t that involved in the grooming category. There weren’t many options available for them,” Hitesh Dhingra, co-founder, The Man Company, tells afaqs! over a call.

With men becoming more aware about self-grooming, many brands have mushroomed over the last five years or so. They cater to this particular segment and provide various types of products that are now very much in demand.

So, what led Dhingra and the other two co-founders – Bhisham Bhateja and Parvesh Bareja – to launch The Man Company in 2015?

“The products that were available back then, by other FMCG brands were functional in nature and, as a result, there was no brand loyalty. No one tried to create an experiential brand for men. That was the pain point we identified. We wanted to create a brand that is slightly more aspirational and establishes an emotional connection with the consumers,” mentions Dhingra.

Staying true to the brand’s vision, The Man Company recently rolled out a campaign titled #GentlemanInYou that celebrates ‘The Real Men’.

The campaign is conceptualised by The Man Company’s own creative team, and is executed by What Works. Singer Sona Mohapatra has provided the voice-over, while writer, poet and lyricist Gaurav Solanki, of ‘Article 15’ fame, has penned down the content. It is a continuation of the brand’s 2019 campaign with actor Ayushmann Khurrana.

Talking about the campaign, Rumi Ambastha, director – brand marketing, The Man Company, says that the brand wanted to talk about men’s vulnerabilities and what they go through.

“We don’t appreciate them (men) much for the delicate nuances that they take care of. Men also want to look and feel good, and confident. But the society may not allow this because they’re the stronger gender. As a brand, our stance has always been to celebrate modern gentlemen and convey that it is okay to fall apart, get up again and be yourself,” says Ambastha.

It is interesting to note that the ad film features ‘real men’, and not models or actors.

The three-minute video has been released on the brand’s social media channels, like YouTube, Instagram and Facebook. It is in nine languages, including English, Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Punjabi, Bengali, Marathi, Kannada and Gujarati. There is also a version of the ad in sign language.

People can watch the video in their chosen language with the help of carefully translated subtitles. The objective is to convey the message that there are ‘gentlemen’ in all walks of life, irrespective of language or age barriers.

Ambastha informs that these translations were not done monotonously by language translators but the brand got hold of regional writers and poets to carefully understand and write the verses as if they were originally written in that particular local language. The brand also took out quarter page ads in 54 Times of India (local/regional) editions.

The Man Company's new ad is a poetic tribute to the 21st-century "vulnerable gentleman"
The Man Company's new ad is a poetic tribute to the 21st-century "vulnerable gentleman"

Speaking about the target audience, Ambastha mentions, “The TG is in the 24-36 age bracket.” However, she adds that men of all ages, be it an 18-year-old or a 45-year-old, require grooming products.

Dhingra shares that pre-COVID, The Man Company was growing fast, with 40-45 per cent of its sales coming from offline channels. The brand is present across Shoppers Stop, Lifestyle and similar outlets.

Offline channels were hit, due to COVID. Since then, online channels have compensated for the losses and have grown at a phenomenal rate. Starting July 2021, the traction is back on the offline channels as well. The brand has now also expanded to hypermarkets and organised pharmacy chains.

“This year, the brand is expected to experience an impressive 250 per cent revenue growth, as compared to last year.”

As per Dhingra, the online-offline distribution breakup for The Man Company is 70:30. Within online, almost 60 per cent of the revenue comes from multi-brand marketplaces like Amazon, and 35-plus per cent comes from its own website.

The online-offline distribution breakup for The Man Company is 70:30.

“The biggest category for the brand is face care. It includes products like face washes, moisturising creams and sheet masks. The fastest-growing category over the last year has been fragrances and combos. We have seen that due to COVID, people were not stepping out. So, the demand for multiple use products, including DIY pedicure and facial kits, went up. People are used to buying fragrances from offline channels, but online sales (of fragrances) also went up due to the pandemic.”

"The fastest-growing category over the last year has been fragrances and combos."
Hitesh Dhingra, The Man Company

The Man Company competes with the likes of Nykaa Man, Bombay Shaving Company, Beardo, to name a few.

Commenting on the competition, Dhingra says, “We are very well differentiated when it comes to our communication strategy and positioning that is more towards premium. We are the only brand that is talking about how the definition of a gentleman has evolved and become a lot more inclusive. Product differentiation and innovation are also an important part of our strategy.”

The film, especially the scene in which the gent chooses not to pick a fight on the street, reminds us of Gillette's 2019 'The Best Men Can Be' stance.

It also reminds us of Parachute's poetic ad that portrays the relationship that women have with their hair.

One of the top challenges for the brand initially was to change consumer behaviour, as men were not involved in the grooming category. “But our marketing strategy, product launches and content have enabled us to create a dent in the market,” asserts Dhingra.

The other challenges included product differentiation and selecting the right distribution channel.

The brand is looking at event-based marketing and creating campaigns around festivals/occasions like Christmas and Valentine’s Day, in future. “This helps us to create an emotional connect with women as well. In the long-term too, we would like to be a brand that is very closely connected with its consumers,” Dhingra signs off.

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