Akshit Pushkarna

Why is D2C brand The Man Company aggressively pursuing customers offline?

The seven year old men's personal care brand competes against beardo, Bombay shaving company, Ustra, among others.

To say that India's direct-to-consumer (D2C) businesses expanded during COVID, would be an understatement. The segment has grown exponentially, with over 160 funding deals worth over $1.4 billion over the past year itself.

A recent Statista research reveals that the total addressable D2C market in India is expected to grow 15 times between 2015 and 2025. This rapid growth has led to various sub-categories within the industry.

Hitesh Dhingra, founder and CEO, The Man Company, one of the leaders in India's male grooming D2C space, says, "Offline markets being shut (during the pandemic) gave a lot of momentum to D2C brands. We saw a 150-200% revenue jump during the pandemic. However, that has neutralised over the last year.” 

“Acquiring a new customer has become more expensive because customer acquisition costs on platforms like Facebook, Google, etc., have also gone up. It is now way more costly to acquire a customer online. That's the reason most D2C brands have started betting on offline expansion."

The Man Company was founded by Dhingra in 2015. The primarily e-commerce company entered physical retail about three years ago which, according to Dhingra, gives it an advantage over its competitors in the space.

"Offline markets being shut (during the pandemic) gave a lot of momentum to D2C brands. We saw a 150-200% revenue jump during the pandemic. However, that has neutralised over the last year.”
Hitesh Dhingra, founder and CEO, The Man Company

He plans on continuing with offline expansion. Dhingra shares that the company is currently focussing on expanding the three business models in the offline setting. The company owns 65 exclusive business outlets across India. This number was 20, about a year ago. The company is planning on doubling this number by next year.

The company is currently expanding its presence within the large format retailers (Lifestyle and Shoppers Stop), hypermarkets, and supermarkets. "These associations are very recent. We are still experimenting with product mix and marketing strategies. We plan on growing our revenue from this stream next year, by 70-75%, just by deepening the associations with large retailers," mentions Dhingra.

The company recently released its annual promotional campaign built around International Men's Day (November 19). This year, the two-minute digital feature stars influencer Bhuvan Bam. Dhingra says that though the campaign during International Men's Day is significant for the brand's ethos, it’s also strategic.

"Not many brands celebrate International Men's Day and there is definitely a gap. Just by leveraging on this gap, we can get a lot of traction. We have been doing campaigns on International Men's Day and days celebrating men since day one. There have been 3-4 campaigns that have gone viral as well. We definitely benefit from the fact that our competitors don't really invest on campaigns during these days and we do so every year. Even the audience expects us to launch a campaign during this time," Dhingra explains.

Bam is an interesting choice for the brand. Dhingra says. "Post-COVID, we started seeing good traction on our e-commerce website for the fragrance category. Hence, for this particular category, we wanted someone who has a strong online following. We wanted to go for a content creator with massive reach. Bhuvan has done interesting content and created a big name for himself. His following is younger, between the ages of 15 and 35. With him, we can reach out to a lot of younger people."

However, the product range is still not the top seller for The Man Company. The face care category brings in about 45% of the revenues. That product range is endorsed by actor Ayushmann Khurrana.

"We had shortlisted a few celebrities, who fit the modern gentleman kind of appeal. Khurrana’s storytelling style is exceptional. He’s creating his own path with the kind of movies he’s doing. That's what drew us to him. He speaks to the masses as well as the classes. You can't define his audience. His following cuts across genders, as well as Tier-I and II markets. Our growth is up 15 times since he came onboard," Dhingra shares.

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