Alavi recently spoke to Samriddh Dasgupta, Vice President of Marketing and New Brands at Bombay Shaving Company, a popular Indian personal care and grooming brand, about how he and his team have achieved sustainable growth by using new technology and leveraging changes in consumer behaviour.
What Inspired Bombay Shaving Company?
Bombay Shaving Company started about five years ago and its main goal was to reinvent the way men approached grooming and personal care in India as well as around the world. This goal was inspired by the rise of new innovations and behaviours like social media and online dating. Men started to focus a lot more on the way they looked and there was also a clear demand from women in terms of them wanting men to look better. In fact, research suggests that today, men change their profile pictures on dating apps and matrimonial sites four to five times more than they used to in the past.
The team at Bombay Shaving Company believed the time was right to leverage this behavioural change and the advantages of technology. The brand now produces superfood-powered grooming products/solutions for both men and women and plans on diversifying its product portfolio based on changing consumer behaviours and technology.
How does the brand leverage change to stay ahead?
Bombay Shaving Company understands that consumers discover and purchase products in different ways and has set up 20K+ touchpoints to leverage change and diversify how it attracts and retains customers.
The brand has both an offline and an online presence. It sells its products in traditional retail stores as well as directly off its website and on marketplaces/third-party platforms like Amazon, Flipkart, Myntra, and Nykaa Man. Apart from these channels, the brand has enabled social commerce and tapped into consumers who like to discover and shop for products while browsing social media. It is also establishing a strong B2B channel through corporate gifting.
By diversifying its channels, Bombay Shaving Company has been able to keep up with the different shopping experiences consumers are shifting to in both the short term and long term.
Social listening to understand cultural trends
It is essential for brands to track large cultural shifts via content created on social media apps like Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat, which is why Bombay Shaving Company has an entire team doing this and more. The company makes it a point to observe how content moves across platforms and geographies and how it is being received or consumed by its target audience. This effort is important because the brand operates in a very visual space, given that it is a personal care/grooming brand.
By observing the cultural shifts taking place via content shared on social media, Bombay Shaving Company is better able to understand its customers’ changing needs in terms of products as well as what trends or products they are raving about or expecting from brands in the future.
Scientific approaches to improve the product experience
When it comes to leveraging change for a better product experience, Bombay Shaving Company uses a more scientific approach. It looks into what new ingredients are emerging globally, what ingredients are viable, how consumption patterns are changing, what skin care regimes are becoming more important in evolved markets, and how people are interacting with their products (e.g., are customers looking for products to carry in their bags or leave on shelves?). These learnings are then used to expand and improve the product portfolio.
For example, through this approach Bombay Shaving Company discovered that the packaging of its products needed to be more minimal.
“If you look at our packaging, it’s deeply minimal but it’s still got the right amount of information to help you choose better and choose faster, and that’s our philosophy. We have built packaging that is global, and we have built packaging that addresses very specific consumer requirements and needs, which gives consumers just the right amount of insight without flooding their line of sight. It’s a difficult thing to balance but I think we’ve been able to do that.”
— Samriddh Dasgupta, Vice President of Marketing and New Brands at Bombay Shaving Company
Bombay Shaving Company’s focus on superfoods is another great example of how it has assessed the changes taking place globally and leveraged those changes for a better product experience. Ingredients like turmeric, charcoal and onion oil started emerging in various markets with strong skin care industries, like those in Southeast Asia. Bombay Shaving Company leveraged those changes by focusing on being a superfood ingredient brand that is sustainable and healthy.
Be agile to solve market needs quickly
When many brands slowed down production during the coronavirus lockdown, Bombay Shaving Company emerged with a new product line within a completely new vertical!
In India, women stopped going to salons when the country went into lockdown. Bombay Shaving Company hypothesized that the virus was also likely to make people more reserved about letting someone else come close to them for services like hair removal. The brand quickly validated this hypothesis by speaking to their female buyers, who had previously bought the company’s haircare products for male family members or friends. They also confirmed that personal care, hygiene, and skincare were a priority, especially since they would be spending a lot more time in front of the camera on video calls.
Few brands in the market offered good hair removal products. Hair removal products for women was a category that had a lot of untapped potential. Most brands were addressing hair removal needs in a scattered manner and Bombay Shaving Company saw an opportunity to offer a more holistic hair removal solution to women.
Within just a few months of launching its new product line, Bombay Shaving Company gained around a 7% market share in the women’s hair removal space and is now listed as one of the top brands for women’s hair removal on marketplaces like Amazon and Nykaa.
How does the brand leverage technology to stay ahead?
The types of technologies Bombay Shaving Company uses to stay ahead can be broadly categorized as:
- Social listening tools for cultural insights and trends, like Facebook and Snapchat (as discussed earlier)
- Technology provided by marketplaces
- Technology built in-house and/or purchased
Technology provided by marketplaces, like Flipkart and Amazon, give the brand great insights into how its products are moving compared to others, how its product categories are performing, and the impact of the brand’s investments with regards to its position in the market.
Technology that is built in-house or purchased, like a brand’s website, customer relationship management tools for customization, payment tech, and inventory and warehouse management systems, deliver essential data that Bombay Shaving Company can use for business intelligence. This intelligence enhances business activities like operations and marketing, which in turn allows brands to grow and scale.
To make sense of the data collected and use it effectively, Bombay Shaving Company employs a variety of tech, including third-party applications. For example, the brand uses Alavi.ai, a marketing analytics solution, to better understand who its most profitable audiences are, so they can be used for campaigns on ad platforms like Facebook.
“I think technology is something that you really have to invest in. Technology enables businesses to move forward. There are some third-party tools which will help you do things faster and better with more agility.”
— Samriddh Dasgupta, Vice President of Marketing and New Brands at Bombay Shaving Company
Learnings from Leveraging Change and Technology to Grow a Business
According to Samriddh Dasgupta, here are a few points that marketing teams should keep in mind when dealing with rapid changes in the e-commerce and offline retail spaces.
- Some marketing experts assume that consumers have low attention spans, but it isn’t about attention spans. It’s about the relevance of the content. Marketers need to identify and keep up with what is relevant because relevant content is what consumers will spend time on. If a brand wants to tell a story, it shouldn’t focus on the form of that story but on the relevance of that story.
- Don’t rely on experts to build your tech stack and don’t simply invest in technology that is trending. Figure out what technology works for your business because technology is supposed to solve problems for your business and should be customized to your needs.
- Make sure your team is aware of technology changes that are taking place across the world. These big shifts can help you evolve your brand. Talk to people outside your own brand’s network/ecosystem to understand what is working or not working.
- Do not ignore what’s happening offline. By using these observations in your strategy, you can strengthen your consumer insights.
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