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Bombay Shaving Company: Groomed to perfection

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The rapid rise of D2C brand Bombay Shaving Company which today has a customer base of 7 million households

By 2025, the personal care segment is projected to touch Rs. 4030 crore, with an approximate 6% growth rate and 38 crore users. A brand that is already well-positioned for this bright future is Bombay Shaving Company, a D2C brand that has brought an ‘experiential’ dimension to the mostly functional Indian male grooming category through its regimens, customisation and omnichannel model.

An exciting start

Bombay Shaving Company was founded in 2015-16 by Shantanu Deshpande. And right from the beginning, the brand disrupted the Indian men’s grooming category by introducing an ‘experiential’ dimension to it. With the launch of its first product—a single blade, precision safety razor designed to romance the rather mundane shaving experience for men—this then little-known D2C brand made its intention clear to reimagine grooming in India and provide stiff competition to the likes of personal care brands such as Gillette.

“This was also a time when we saw immense change in India’s socio-cultural landscape. A blossoming social media and digital ecosystem were giving rise to young, experimental and always-ready-to-express consumers. Bombay Shaving Company saw a large market with potential and moved swiftly to serve it,” shares Deepak Gupta, COO, Bombay Shaving Company.

Along the way

By 2018-19, the online grooming space began to mature, giving rise to numerous Thrasio clones (Following a business model made famous by US company Thrasio, Indian start-ups were acquiring fast-growing digital-first brands and scaling their products) and brand obfuscation. “This is when Bombay Shaving Company made the bold move to bring in competitors Colgate-Palmolive and Reckitt Benckiser on board as strategic investors for their online network and distribution might.

Till today, Bombay Shaving Company remains one of the only companies in the world to have two FMCG behemoths on their cap table [a document that details who has ownership in a company],” conveys Gupta. On the backbone of this alliance and what Gupta describes as one of the strongest start-up sales teams in India, Bombay Shaving Company grew its retail presence to over 30,000 stores, with more than 10% share in each. In this way, Bombay Shaving Company transformed from a predominantly product-focused D2C and e-commerce brand to an experience-driven omnichannel brand. “The transformation was complete when Lakmé Salon invited our brand to be the preferred product partner for its chain of over 300 salons across India. This was a significant landmark for us in our four-year journey,” adds Gupta.

Through the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020-21, by leaning on its D2C channel as an insights platform, Bombay Shaving Company became a true enabler for people in difficult times. “We understood changing needs better than most, and so introduced innovative DIY solutions and fortified products with nourishing ingredients, and even launched another brand ‘BSC Women’ [now renamed as Bombae] to cater to the personal grooming needs of women. All these moves helped our brand get closer to people more than ever before,” explains Gupta. Bombay Shaving Company’s growth skyrocketed 5x in this period, and subsequently, the size and stature of the brand also increased. It employs over 200 people today.

Looking to the future

Bombay Shaving Company’s revenue (year on year) grew 3x in 2021-2022, while its quarter-over-quarter (Q/Q) growth was 30%. Its customer base has grown to seven million households. The brand has a presence on major marketplaces such as Amazon, Flipkart, Nykaa and Myntra, as well as various quick commerce, e-grocery, social commerce, online and B2B platforms. For order fulfilment, Bombay Shaving Company relies on its state-of-the-art, vertically-integrated warehouse, digitised supply chain with real-time tracking, and strategic logistic partners. “After building the initial momentum and reaching the first 1,00,000 customers through performance marketing, we are now giving impetus to brand and content marketing, to support our omnichannel capabilities,” says Gupta.

BROWNIE POINTS

  • Bombay Shaving Company has made holistic grooming popular with superfoods’-powered regimens across shaving, skin, hair, bath and body products. In 2018, it brought on Colgate-Palmolive as a strategic investor and transformed itself into an omnichannel brand.
  • In 2021, Bombay Shaving Company brought on Reckitt Benckiser as a strategic partner. The same year, it became the official product partner of Lakmé Salons across India.
  • It has also signed Indian cricketer R. Ashwin and Bollywood sensation Alaya F as brand ambassadors.
  • In 2022, the brand became the official grooming partner of the Mumbai Indians team in the Indian Premier League.

Compiled by Anurima Das for The India D2C Yearbook 2022.

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