It was a bold move that Kolkata-based Emami Group made in June 2005. The conglomerate, known for its brands such as BoroPlus antiseptic cream and Navratna hair oil, decided to venture into a category that was almost was non-existent in India – fairness cream for men – with Fair and Handsome.
“We had identified the potential of the men’s grooming space around 2004, when a study (conducted by situations advertising and market research firm AC Nielsen) revealed that 30% of fairness cream consumers were men. When we delved deeper, we uncovered a latent desire among men to look good. But, there were no offerings designed specifically for men’s skin, and they ended up using women’s products. So we launched Fair and Handsome in Andhra Pradesh in June (It was rolled out pan India in October),” says Mohan Goenka, director, Emami.
Goenka’s observation was validated when, in the very first year, sales of Fair and Handsome crossed about Rs.500 million. Buoyed by its success, the brand roped in Shah Rukh Khan as its brand ambassador in 2007, which led to sales touching Rs.1 billion by FY09. Today, the brand has emerged as one of the power brands of Emami and enjoys a 63.7% market share in the category. Fair and Handsome contributed 9% of Emami’s total FY18 revenue of Rs.25.40 billion, which is about Rs.2.30 billion.
Goenka adds that the strong start on Fair and Handsome led them to explore the men’s grooming space further. “We saw newer gaps opening up in face washes and deodorants, and the emergence of a consumer segment purchasing online,” he adds.
Fair and Handsome’s success signaled a huge, untapped market for male-grooming products and companies, both homegrown and multinational, began investing in it. From Marico and HUL to Godrej Consumer Products (GCPL), legacy companies started innovating and introducing products across a wide range of categories. The segment also s