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How Kolkata-based Joy is taking on MNC giants

Joy, the beauty and personal care brand from RSH Global, has been fighting stereotypes in its campaigns. An earlier ad featuring comedienne Bharti Singh made a strong case for unconventional beauty, while its current campaign featuring TV actress Mouni Roy seeks to shatter the myth that physical beauty of a woman is inversely proportional to her intelligence and reinforces the belief of ‘Beautiful by Nature’. 

Happy Creative did the first campaign for Joy, which featured Anushka Sharma. Post that, the brand did not have a creative agency and all the creative work was done in-house. While Prachar Advertising is the media agency, the planning and strategy is done in-house. The brand will soon sign on a social media partner. 

Established in 1988 in Kolkata, RSH Global is eyeing revenues of Rs 1,000 crore over the next 3 years. The company’s annual turnover touched Rs 500 crore last year. RSH Global has expanded globally and is currently present in 25 countries across Africa, the Middle East and SAARC regions. The company hopes to expand to 40 countries in the next few years. 

In conversation with Adgully, Poulomi Roy, Chief Marketing Officer, RSH Global, speaks at length about the growth strategy in the personal care business, countering the competition from big MNC brands, key trends in 2019 and more. Excerpts: 

You have said that by 2020 you aim to become a Rs 600-crore company. What is your strategy to grow the business?
While the skincare segment (within the personal care market) is estimated to be Rs 13,000 crore and growing at 10 per cent annually, Joy has been growing at a CAGR of nearly 25 per cent. Joy has a 3 per cent share of the skincare market; 46 per cent share (market leader in terms of volume) in the moist cream category for women; 15 per cent share in the winter care and body lotion segment; and 20 per cent share (market leader in terms of volume) in the sunscreen category. 

The face wash category is growing by leaps and bounds and today, it is worth Rs 1,600 crore. Over the last couple of years, a lot of players have entered this category and have created havoc in terms of pricing. RSH Global entered the face wash category in 2011. When we launched, we thought it would be a tough market to crack as it had 20-odd players. But we latched on to it and now we are seeing the pay-off, because today, at the national level we have just 8 players. Of course, Himalaya Neem Face Wash is the biggest buy, followed by Clean n Clear, Ponds, and Lakme. are the key players. For us, face wash is going to be big in 2019 and we expect to have a better market share for our products in this category. 

In the skin care segment, we are placed 8th among the top 10 players, which include HUL, Nivea and Garnier. In 2019, we are expecting to go up to the 6th position. 

We have a massive share of 49 per cent in the moisturising cream category. Now there is a migration from creams to lotions, but we have always had lotions and creams in our portfolio. But the competition is shoring up. Nivea has become an aggressive player and they are getting down to their roots now from top to bottom. ITC has acquired Charmi’s, a very old brand in this segment. More and more players are introducing pimple creams, but we have always been present in this segment. In the midst of this influx, we are safeguarding our market share as much as possible. 

Though we are based out of West Bengal, we are very strong in the North markets.

Why haven’t you ventured into the South market so far?
Venturing is very easy, but for us what is more important is whether we have done justice to our TG, and getting our act right in our existing markets. Personal care is a tricky game, where there is Sales & Distribution, Manufacturing, Supply Chain – all that needs to be in the right condition to take it forward. 

I know how tough the Tamil Nadu and Andhra markets are and you need to understand the pulse of the market when you foray. We are doing a good job where we are present and want to consolidate our position in Maharashtra and West Bengal in a big way. The sensibilities of that part of India is different and it is media isolated in the sense that when I do a national campaign, only 40 per cent spillover happens in West Bengal. Until we are finished with this, we don’t want to jump into other markets. 

As a national player, how are you countering the competition from big MNCs brands?
Every MNC has an international mandate when it comes to their communication. If you look at their communication, most of it is very rational. What gives us an edge is the consumer’s mind, even though Sales & Distribution is a big challenge for us. Being a brand out of India and having a strong accessibility for consumers and not having a godfather in Paris or London dictating everything, we are actually are in the mindspace of the consumers. 

In a lot of service sectors, you don’t have a tangible product to show, so you tell a story and you move on. We have a distinctive voice that resonates with our consumers. That’s where our brand story starts, and while we tell that story, there will have to be cues for our product. We can showcase our product while building a dialogue and relationship with our consumers. That’s where I feel it works in favour of Indian companies and also in our favour. If we do this at a consistent level and imbibe it into the culture that is growing which can happen through ads and digital, then it will really make a difference. 

We do this activity called ‘Potion Ki Paheli Suljaye Saheli’, which is a door-to-door activity, followed by giving people a chance to meet their local celebrities. It is a selective approach, which we believe is the need of the hour. If the MNCs believe that by investing in multiple spots on television will give them an edge, well we also invest a lot in some of our categories. 

What is your strategy for the Kolkata market where there are many local players?
True, there is an influx of local players in Kolkata, Punjab and, to a lesser extent, in Maharashtra. These local players operate in a very simple way. GST implementation has hit them in a major way. They will operate for 5 years and then they will pack their bags and go. There is no method there. If you want to be a long-term player, you have to work out your deals, distribution and schemes. The promises that these products make are dangerous, and people don’t realise it just yet, but that maturity will come. Also, what these players do is pump in a huge amount of money in the local media. The nature of products that they give and what we offer is very different. We are a generic usage product that you need to use on a daily basis. We cannot make the claims that they get away with. My products are anyway fighting the retail chunk with the MNCs. 

When you went into the ‘natural’ space there were few players because of the regulations. Have you faced any such hurdles?
Yes, we did. When you create communication for an FMCG brand, especially in the personal care segment, there are a lot of things that you need to be careful about. You have to prove the efficacy and the claims – both at the ASCI level and at the product level. We have to ensure that the elements and compounds are not harsh for your skin. The problem is that in the long term, how many of us are checking out what’s there? There are loopholes and that’s where sensible and responsible marketing has a role to play. Our products are lab tested and our claims are fact-checked by a dermatologist so that they are not taken out of context. 

Could you give us a break-up of your ad spends across markets?
Sixty-five per cent of our money gets burnt into the GEC space. As for the consumer part of the planning, a bit part is GEC, followed by movies, music and everything else. 

We do come out with print campaigns, but not to a great extent because as a media it does not give us incremental reach. We try and do print campaigns very tactically when there is a special offer or for a special bit of new to create awareness amongst the trade community. The publications that we advertise with include Dainik Jagran, Dainik Bhaskar, and Rajasthan Patrika. 

How are e-commerce platforms part of your distribution?
It has been a year since we are operational on all e-commerce platforms. We are going to be really aggressive in the digital space in 2019 as we feel the timing is right. That is going to uplift our e-commerce business in a big way. 

What are the key trends that you foresee in the personal care category in 2019?
We see a big movement to the nature-based products. I feel it is simple to know what is happening in personal care today. The hopes and aspirations of women are changing, with more and more becoming financially independent due to increasing personal income. Now that women are stepping out of the house and pursuing what she wants, especially in the Tier 2 and 3 markets, it has become a huge opportunity for us. The Internet has also made a lot of difference as the availability of products and information about them has increased and the choices available to consumers have gone up as well. There has been an incremental consciousness of personal care products.

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