Grooming products flying off E-commerce shelves

New Delhi | Kolkata: Talk about a hair-raising tale!

When 30-something professional-couple Anvita and Kunal Kapur could not make their monthly parlour appointments due to the ongoing lockdown, it led to three days of frantic searches on multiple websites sitting at their Vasant Kunj residence in New Delhi.

Finally, Anvita was able to pick up an epilator for about ₹5,000, one of the last available pieces.

Although she had never used an epilator before and was apprehensive about using one, she knew this was her best shot at grooming. “It won’t be safe to go to a parlour for the rest of the year, so I bought one and a hair trimmer for him,” Anvita said.

The prolonged nationwide lockdown to combat the Covid-19 outbreak is forcing Indians to turn to DIY grooming sessions at home.

People are afraid of stepping into parlours even in green and orange zones, where it is deemed relatively safer to visit.

Across popular ecommerce sites such as Flipkart, Paytm Mall, BigBasket and Snapdeal, searches are on the up for epilators, razors and hair colour for women; men have been looking for hair trimmers and shavers.

As India’s lockdown entered its third phase, epilators and trimmers started to fly off shelves and soon went out of stock on ecommerce platforms, after they were finally categorised as essential items starting end-April.

For most people like the Kapurs, cutting hair or epilating would have been unimaginable till about a month ago. However, as parlours remained shut in red zones, Indians resorted to shopping vigorously for hair trimming and hair removal products online.

Many ecommerce websites including Nykaa have been displaying ‘out of stock’ signs on women’s epilator range.

Sales may Jump Further

BigBasket has seen an eight-fold increase in demand for electronic appliances like shavers, trimmers, curlers and straighteners, while demand for hair colour has doubled, a company spokesperson said.

Personal hair grooming products are among the highest-selling items on Snapdeal.

The daily demand for these products has increased by 12x since the beginning of the pandemic from mid-March, a Snapdeal spokesperson said.

Similarly, Paytm Mall saw a 70% increase in sales of shavers, trimmers, epilators, straighteners and other styling products like hair dryers. “We have sold out our hair and beard trimmers thrice over and have had to bring in new suppliers to fulfil demand,” said Srinivas Mothey, senior vice president, Paytm Mall.

He expects sales to jump further since they can fulfil orders in red zones as well.

In the past fortnight, trimmers continued to be one of the top 10 most-searched products on Flipkart, with a 4.5x increase since the beginning of April, said a Flipkart spokesperson.

“What is considered as ‘essential’ has also evolved over the last two months. People need grooming products since they’ve been home for days,” the spokesperson of an online company said.

Ecommerce companies are bullish about the segment, since the need to keep personal grooming products handy will continue. India’s personal grooming market was worth about $643 million in 2018, according to reports. As restrictions on salons remain, the heightened demand for grooming products is expected to hold.

“Customers are (becoming) more comfortable with taking care of their grooming needs themselves,” the BigBasket spokesperson said.

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