Interview: We have two objectives from social media – equity building & product awareness: Siddha Jain

Bombay Shaving Company Women

Bombay Shaving Company Women aspires to build a more heterogeneous society aimed at creating one’s definition of body positivity just like they do for gender and sexuality. Siddha Jain sheds light on the strategy to achieve the objectives.

Women’s Shaving, Grooming, and Personal Care market has witnessed unprecedented growth post the pandemic. The Indian women’s hair removal market stands at INR 15000 Cr+ (both products and services) and is projected to grow at 21% year-on-year in the next five years. While salons are up and running but the demand for beauty and DIY kits is here to stay.

Witnessing the shift, Bombay Shaving Company launched its women’s shaving and hair removal range during the first wave in 2020. A year into the category, it has become as big as 25% of the overall business. What’s the brand’s outlook on the manifestation of feminism, breaking archaic myths w.r.t. Body-hair removal & maintenance and the growth strategy?  Siddha Jain, AVP, Bombay Shaving Company delves into the details.

Excerpts

Since its inception in 2020, what have been the key trends observed in the consumer consumption pattern for the women’s range? 

The (Beauty and) Personal Care consumer is educated and deeply involved in the purchase process, evolving constantly in their demands and behavior, with the following 3-4 trends in consumption:

  • She seeks products and experiences that are customized to her body’s needs, whether this comes in the form of curation or designing the products themselves. Also increasingly aware of self-care, holistic wellbeing, mental health, and happiness.
  • Convenience seeking: Looking for multi-benefit, easy to use products that can achieve results with less time and skill
  • Highly engaged online – spends a lot of time on Instagram. Increasingly connected customer raises the relevance of multi-channel
  • Eco-conscious & purpose-driven: Increasingly concerned about inputs resulting in demand for clean /natural products. Needs go beyond functionality –needs to feel good about brands she uses, brands with purpose

Body hair insecurities within females have been a matter of debate for a long time now? What was the insight that triggered Bombay Shaving Company to launch the women-specific product range in 2020?

It all started when a group of intent women at BSC couldn’t go to salons during COVID-19 and decided to take the matter at hand. “We are a grooming company, we need to make products for women” – and that was that – they researched key gaps in the market, designed our first set of products, and went to market with it. And then there was no looking back.

Through the love we received on our limited range, we knew there was only one direction to go. To rephrase one of my most favorite quotes from Margaret Mead “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, women can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

When we talk about women empowerment issues, shedding body hair has been one of the pivotal talks. How do you go about challenging the norm and also building a target audience for the brand? 

We completely believe and celebrate the fact that hair removal is a personal choice, but for those women who choose to, we want to be unapologetically there for them. We believe in not just being smooth but in being smooth AF. We don’t believe in stereotypes and we believe that hair removal is a spectrum (like everything else in the world. We want to be bold and strong in our stance and break archaic narratives around the following:

Education: Shaving and its perceived side effects (in growth, makes hair coarse) are as long-standing in India as the belief that the earth was flat. Even though there is one half of the world that’s happily shaving every other day and we are ok to emulate the west in a bunch of things but not this. We want to break this hypocrisy. The fact that no experience matches that of a salon/ parlor didi is a myth perpetrated by the stellar influencer that is the parlor wali didi.

Cultural: No personal choice should be branded as wrong/ against the cause of feminism just because it is not challenging the status quo. Feeling more happy, comfortable, and smooth in life if one is smooth is a completely personal choice and should be as celebrated as much as not wanting to remove one’s body hair.

Emotional: While beauty might be skin deep, confidence isn’t. For example, imagine a woman who is 25 years old and has been told ever since the beginning of time to not let anything touch her sensitive skin for hair removal except when we go to a salon. She hasn’t questioned that or tried otherwise because the risk is immense. It is potential damage to her skin. The moment she learns and experiences that this ages-old learning was completely untrue and was actually limiting in terms of time and mind space, it will make her control her decisions and question things more.

Community building: This works at two levels – within and environment. While under the umbrella of Bombay Shaving Company, we are almost entirely a “by women, for women” brand. We aim to leverage the intrinsic knowledge of the collective women at BSC to create amazing experiences for each and every consumer. We have actively and consciously started women-focused conversations and brought the narrative to our wider BSC team be it topics like gender-sensitive communication, to menstrual health.

At the outside environment level, we want to build a community of like-minded women and become the go-to space for not just everything hair removal, but everything for feeling #SmoothAF in life. 

Enabling fellow #SmoothSistas:  Through our brand, we want to also collaborate with women-led brands who want to kick start and help each other grow. 

Also Read: As marketers we can not retort tactlessly to every claim: Rahul Gandhi, iD Fresh Food

How was the campaign conceptualization done? What insights do you focus more on?

We have a very objective-focused approach to campaign conceptualization. Objectives can broadly be threefold – be it equity/ awareness building, product/ category education, people/ passion. Depending on each objective and target audience, we go deep into the pulse of the consumer (especially for product/ category education) to develop our messaging and choice of media.

Some people/passion-related campaigns might focus more on our internal passion – for example, we did a #WarehouseWaliDiwali campaign to celebrate our women packers at the warehouse where we lit a thousand diyas together and made a day of it.

Direct communication/selling or thought-provoking storytelling- which of the two has the brand adopted for its communication strategy and why? What works? 

It is a fine balance and we believe in being very confident/ bold about our stance but building very-nuanced storylines around it. For example, when we launched our brand film with our ambassador Alaya F, we were careful about showing hair removal the way it is actually done and having a little fun with it.

So, she is not gently sitting and looking perfect while removing hair – she has one leg on top of the bathtub and is shaving, when she is ripping off a wax strip she has a moment where she really emotes how she feels (a small moment of anxiety while ripping it off), and so on. While we are glam and bold, we are also realistic about it.

What is your objective from social media marketing? How do you balance gender role-specific marketing? 

For us, there are two objectives for social media marketing – one is equity building, which is more about people and conversations that matter to people. The second part is about the product and the outcome from the product.

We have always tried to balance both and it is definitely helping us. We aim to deliver consistent valuable information and then the rest is about powerful conversations that move people. With respect to balance – I think a lot of brands are in the phase of either discovery or in the phase of trying to hit the market with what is the perceived tone of the market.

Even in our team, we mostly have women working for BSC-Women, which helps us to have a better understanding and come up with near-perfect solutions and content which is women-centric. There are a lot of brands targeting women who might be functioning from a male point of view. But it is sacrosanct to me that the conversation and tone of our brand have to be coherent and should sound like one person to keep that persona intact. I ensure that everything is made and thought through from the lens of a woman.

Roadmap ahead?

The roadmap is to continue establishing BSC Women as an insurgent brand – to define us as the expert for hair removal solutions for bold, courageous women and also to build a focused conversation around women. To build brand equity around relevant important topics, we recently conducted an event called #SmoothAF Comedy, which hosted female comedians talking about their lives and rules surrounding body hair. So we will continue disrupting the space with #SmoothAF products and content.


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