- India’s largest selling shaving cream brand is comparatively less well known With a 25 percent volume market Revenue close to 500 crores and it is Vi-John
India’s shaving cream market has many global giants competing including Gillette, HUL’s AXE, Dettol, Old Spice & Nivea But India’s largest selling shaving cream brand is comparatively less well known With a 25 percent volume market Revenue close to 500 crores.
1960-Suchet Singh Kochar started Vi-John as a personal care company in Chandni Chowk, Delhi. He manufactured perfumed hair oil, talcum powder, and cream in a small unit he sold in Delhi’s local markets.
He invented a shaving cream a few years later under the Vi-John name. The English at that time had been an attempt to take advantage of the craze for imported goods.
The product worked fine and started to sell quickly in Delhi and nearby regions. Following initial growth, Vi-John primarily concentrated on tier 2 & 3 cities & rural markets. As per these markets’ customer preferences, it had a powerful fragrance & manufactured more lather It was lower priced than other major brands. This has made Vi-John especially famous in these regions
To capture market share, Vi-John offered distributors and retailers much higher margins relative to the competition. This inspired them to promote Goods from Vi-John. Vi-John ‘s best step was to incentivize saloons to purchase its products. They viewed the saloons as a direct sales platform and began giving incentives to use their goods by enabling the platform to promote their products.
Suchet Singh built its first factory on GT Karnal road in 1978. And in the next 25 years, he added 3 more factories as demand continued to grow. He also built a large, nationwide distribution network of 2500 distributors and 3 lake retailers.
Vi-John switched to tier 1 city after establishing himself in the smaller towns and rural markets. But it faced a lot of opposition because it didn’t have a powerful name. In cities like Mumbai, retailers had also returned the stock
That’s why, in 2011, the company decided to launch television ads by roping in celebrities such as Shahrukh Khan. It continued this by releasing daily ads with celebrities such as Ayushmann Khurana and Varun Dhawan
While sales and brand recognition increased, margins began to decline further. For this, the discounts given to saloons were cut down. This has recently forced saloons to switch to other smaller and cheaper brands.
But Vi-John has still managed to remain numero uno in this category, selling over 50 lac kg shaving cream every year. Combined market share (by volume) is also smaller than the combined market share of Vi-John ‘s next 3 rivals (Axe, Dettol, Old Spice).
In addition to the shaving cream, the Vi-John group also has products such as Feather Brush, 2nd largest hair removal cream behind Veet Lip protection, 2nd behind Cobra vaseline deodorant, splash aftershave, and antiseptic cream Boro Shield.
Vi-John is the story of David vs Goliath in Indian Market and it goes on to show how Indian brands can challenge foreign brands.