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Scripting a quirky brand story to sell men’s grooming

By Satarupa Chakraborty | January 03, 2019

Shifting their vertical focus from niche lifestyle range, Happily Unmarried is writing a new script in shopper marketing with their men’s grooming range, Ustraa. Initially retailing only through online channel, the brand is now focusing on offline, driven by a rich consumer behavior data. Point-of-Purchase catches up with Nikhil Saxena, Product Head -- Ustraa, to learn more about their offline strategies, in-store marketing and the challenges with regard to display vendors.

What prompted Happily Unmarried to shift the entire focus to FMCG?

It’s rather surprising because we were doing rather well with our niche lifestyle brand, Happily Unmarried. We almost started the trend of quirk in lifestyle and followed an out-of-the-box strategy for our marketing and retailing. Keeping the quirk alive in our communication language, we started our men’s grooming brand, Ustraa back in 2015 and soon after, during end- 2016, we were ready with our women’s grooming brand with our eponymous brand name, Happily Unmarried. Now our entire focus is on these two brands, especially on Ustraa. The focus shift was driven by our need for greater scalability. So a grooming range in a new avatar seemed perfect for us!

Tell us about the retail distribution of Ustraa across GT and MT?

We are currently present through 1000+ GT outlets and 175+ MT outlets across India. The latter channel includes all eminent chains like More, Lulu, Star Bazaar etc., and we are in talks with a few more leading names.

What are your shopper marketing and visibility strategies for both the channels?

In MT we of course have more area and shelf space to play with. And remember, online channel has already given us some good amount of visibility, following which, we are approaching MT very strategically. Our first set of display rollout was all about visibility. So in the first stage we created the right buzz to generate the critical “first impression”. But the second stage was driven around functional factors, wherein we concentrated on increasing the number of products.

In GT, our focus is on creating out-of-box visibility. In this channel, it’s important not only how consumers see us, but also how the retailers see us. We believe that if GT retailers see the value, then the shelf stature and longevity is almost guaranteed.

Ustraa is about quirk and fun, accordingly the design of the displays must be reflecting that. Tell us more about that.

See, our USP is that we are an honest brand. When we say we are a men’s brand, we really mean that and the brand is a reflection of our observations on men’s behavior and lifestyle. We have seen that men are still not too experimental when it comes to colours. Therefore, our displays mainly use materials like metal and wood with colour schemes dominated by a black palette with just an orange highlight. For GT, our displays are more fun and unpredictable in order to grab immediate attention. For example, we display lip balms in a jar, which is quite uncommon.

Since Ustraa is all about unconventional POS designs, are you able to find Indian vendors who can deliver effectiveness and value for you?

As a brand that has grown organically in the online space, it would be logical for us to draw a parallel between online and offline vendors. The fact is that today there are many solutions available for online marketing – it’s almost like you name it and you get it. However, when it comes to offline marketing, I feel that the vendors are lagging by at least 10 years. Most of them are not looking at innovation at all; they are only interested in volumes. Therefore, we often go to much smaller vendors to execute the creative designs and support them through logistics, etc.

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