#FMCG is not a sector where you see a rush of new players the way you might in, say, e-commerce or online education. But that is precisely what happened in 2015 when four companies jumped in to serve the same niche segment – Indian men with hashtag#beards: The Man Co, The Bombay Shaving Co, Beardo and Ustraa.

Read a really detailed piece on afaqs! by (bearded, naturally) Abid Hussain Barlaskar. A host of brands were already in the male grooming space but missed the beard for the trees – among them, Gillette, Old Spice, Godrej, Park Avenue, Axe and Nivea.

But as Abid writes, these brands were concerned ‘about cutting a man’s facial hair and not nurturing it’. As recently as 2013, Gillette even ran a campaign saying that most women preferred clean-shaven men. Men were clearly unconvinced by this piece of research.

Brands that addressed facial hair on men in the past were concerned about cutting it rather than nurturing it.

These new companies are expanding beyond beards to offer a full range of products for men. Which is why Emami has taken a stake in The Man Co; Colgate-Palmolive in Bombay Shaving Co, Marico is closing in on Beardo and Wipro has invested in Ustraa (via Happily Unmarried). Rarely does the FMCG space see so much action.

There was a time when it was fashionable for Indian men to have hairy chests and clean faces. Now the reverse is true. How India has changed 🙂

About the author

Sreekant Khandekar

A serial media entrepreneur, I started professional life as a news journalist. Am a voracious reader with a deep interest in societal change.
I was the founding editor of A&M, India’s first national publication for advertising, marketing and media. It spawned coverage of this space in all publications. Also co-founded afaqs!, The Mobile Indian and Kulzy.

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