How to Build a Successful Personal Care Brand in India
By: WE Staff
Neeja Shah Goswami, CEO of luxury grooming brand Whiskers India sheds light on the nitty-gritties of building a successful brand in India’s highly competitive personal care segment. From understating consumer behavior to building an omni-channel presence, Neeja breaks it all down for us.
The Indian beauty and personal care industry has been on a constant growth spurt over the past few years. Home to a wide range of players, the Indian beauty and personal care industry is expected to be worth $31.5 billion by 2024. Driven by factors such as growth of e-commerce, digitization, burgeoning middle class, the industry is expected to growth at 3% CAGR between 2024 and 2028.
The industry’s biggest segment is touted to be the personal care segment. Every other day we come across a new brand that has been launched in the already cluttered market.
In such a market scenario, building a strong brand presence is an uphill battle. Consumers are spoilt for choices, making it tougher for brands to build loyalty.
To dissect the nuances of building a successful personal care brand in the Indian market, we spoke to Neeja Shah Goswami, a brand specialist who is currently the CEO of luxury grooming brand Whiskers India.
Neeja brings to the table a rich background, having spent six years leading marketing and sales for esteemed luxury lifestyle magazines in Dubai, including Sirius, Excellency (ADCB Bank's magazine), and Millionaireasia India. She also holds a diploma in Interior Design, an MA in Psychology, and has honed her skills as a self-taught graphic designer.
Transitioning her career to India, Neeja began in a humble office within Ahmedabad's oldest buildings. However, she swiftly emerged as one of the most sought-after brand consultants in the region. Her prowess earned recognition from Radio One's Horlicks campaign as one of Ahmedabad's ‘Super Women’ early on.
Neeja has played a pivotal role in elevating Whiskers from a regional entity to a nationally recognised brand, steering the development of sales, marketing, and distribution strategies.
In an in-depth conversation, Neeja break takes us through her professional journey and also breaks down the basics of brand building. We delve into brand building fundamentals such as understanding consumers, building an omni-channel presence and much more.
How did your tryst with entrepreneurship begin? Did you always envision building ventures of your own?
My tryst with entrepreneurship had started from being a consultant in one of the oldest buildings of Ahmedabad. From there, to becoming the CEO of Whiskers itself has been a journey.
I think when I started my first company itself, I was looking at everything from perspective of brand solutions. The joy of creating always remains at the core of everything I do. And then it went beyond just creating a brand; it was more about launching it and creating a benchmark. So today I have Enso, Viraasat, and Whiskers and few other brands in making. I believe we all have ideas but what matters is how prepared we are to follow through the execution.
Can you take us through the genesis of Whiskers India. Tell us about the brand and its positioning in the Indian personal care space.
Whiskers India is a luxury grooming brand based in Ahmedabad, established in 2017. It was co-founded by Aakash Goswami, Anup Goswami, and popular public figure Rannvijay Singh Singha. Whiskers India offers a huge range of beard care and unisex skin care, body care and tattoo care products along with fragrance ranges such as deodorants and perfumes.
We have positioned ourselves as a unisex grooming products brand in the Indian personal care space. We primarily cater to the Gen-Z audience as they prioritize values over labels. Today’s youth seek authenticity, purpose, and inclusive narratives that resonate beyond gender lines. We believe in inclusivity develop gender neutral products.
Building a successful brand in today’s age of stiff competition is not an easy task. In your opinion what are some requisites of crating a brand that connects with consumers and also translates to financial success?
In today’s time is of utmost importance to build a brand that serves the best interest of the consumers. It is important to listen to constant feedback and incorporate them. This makes the consumers feel valued and helps retain build consumer confidence in the brand. Consumers connect with brands which listen to them and this in turn leads to loyal consumer base. Thus, the financial side takes care of its own.
Understanding consumer sentiment and their needs is key to the success of any consumer facing venture. How do you go about identifying and connecting with the brands’ consumers?
It is important to understand which consumers are the brand targeting. Whiskers primarily caters to the Gen Z consumers who always demand quality products at the best possible price. They seek value which we provide to them. Today’s woke culture has led to them opting for gender neutral products. We listen to their voices and innovate products which are gender neutral. We embrace current trends by not only catering to a diverse consumer base but also meeting the increasing market demand for products that go beyond traditional gender norms. This leads to us connecting with consumers by aligning with their values.
In your opinion how can brands build a seamless omnichannel presence to optimise for success?
To build a seamless omnichannel presence, brands should integrate consistent messaging, user experience, and data across all channels. Prioritize a unified customer journey, leverage technology for seamless transitions, and analyse data for continuous improvement.
Throw light on some of the key lessons you have learnt while building brand Whiskers India?
A key lesson in building a cosmetic brand is the importance of transparency. Being transparent about ingredients, manufacturing processes, and product benefits fosters trust with consumers, contributing to brand loyalty. Additionally, staying attuned to beauty trends and engaging with your community enhances relevance in the competitive cosmetic industry.
How do you foresee the Indian personal care segment evolving in the near future? Which market forces will impact the sector’s evolution in the years to come?
I believe the emergence of technology will evolve the Indian personal care segment in a huge way. The pace of innovation as led to personal products in the market. The unisex personal care segment is growing at a rapid pace, and I expect to see huge surge in demand for them. Also, beauty and personal care segment could be hugely influenced in the near future by the upcoming Union Budget by the funds allotted to it.
What is your vision and road map for brand Whiskers India’s growth in 2024?
We are growing at a rapid pace. We want to venture into tier 2 cities, as we recognise the untapped potential in these regions. This strategic approach positions Whiskers to capitalise on the expanding market, presenting a comprehensive range of unisex products that resonate with the diverse preferences of today's consumers. Whiskers India is committed to transforming the grooming landscape in India through our growing retail and e-commerce presence. We have targeted 1000 new stores in the modern trade for this financial quarter and new product launches in the pipeline.