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Wipro eyes bigger reach in grooming segment

By He Wei in Shanghai | China Daily | Updated: 2019-07-19 10:47
Nagender Arya, regional director of East Asia, Middle East and Africa at Wipro Consumer Care. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Wipro Consumer Care, the personal care products unit of Indian conglomerate Wipro Ltd, is planning to be the second-largest player in South China by taking a bigger slice of the market from rivals Procter& Gamble Co and Unilever Plc, fueled by growth across all categories and a notable growth in the men's grooming segment.

Aside from consolidating its market position in Guangdong province, Wipro is looking to tap Central China and finally eastern China regions, driven by an expected compound annual growth rate of over 20 percent in three years and revenue nearly doubling in the same period, said Nagender Arya, regional director of East Asia and Africa at Wipro Consumer Care.

"China has the potential to be our second-largest and even the largest market, given the sheer size of the personal care market, "Arya told China Daily in a recent interview. The company's China business is currently worth 1 billion yuan ($145 million) and ranks third after India and Malaysia.

Wipro has adopted a step-by-step, gradual expansion approach. Currently, 80 percent of the revenue comes from Guangdong province, but Arya believed the company's ability to localize products for consumer needs has helped it gain strong market share in a province that "has more than 90 million population and is among the top GDPs in the world".

"Our skin care brand, Bio-essence, was the first to launch a skin care range with the well-regarded Bird's Nest ingredient and our male grooming brand, Romano, was among the first to launch silicone free formulation in shampoo for men," he said.

Arya forecast men's grooming, which accounts for roughly 15 percent of the company's overall China sales, to register a 1.5 times faster growth rate in the coming years than shower, skin care, and home care products.

"Though 50 percent of the population are men, they account for a market share of just 5 percent," Arya said. He pointed to a change in demographics when the younger population are willing to spend far more time and money on personal grooming to look good.

The other game-changer relies on the individualistic tendency among male consumers, which means that people want unique products tailored to one's specific needs.

"It means they don't want a product that their family can use. They want their preferences because of higher awareness, and higher exposure to the outside world," he said.

Consultancy Euromonitor International had estimated the total market for male grooming consumables in China would reach 14.2 billion yuan in 2018. The firm said that the market grew at a compound annual growth rate of 6.5 percent over the past five years, with growth of 6.9 percent last year.

But according to a White Paper launched by e-commerce site Tmall and L'Oreal last year, there is a lack of choice for men-only products, especially in facial skin care, indicating that brands should expand their product lines to meet this demand.

Jason Yu, general manager of China for Kantar Worldpanel, said higher incomes and a greater interest in health and well-being are pushing the growth in sales of men's grooming products.

"Brands need to understand male consumers' needs and preferences, and find innovative ways to meet them," Yu said.

"Our strategy is clear. We go step by step but other than becoming a marginal player everywhere, we want to be among the top players in the selected markets," said Arya.

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