Interview: Vikas Bagaria, founder, Pee Safe – The Financial Express

Clipped from: 40-45% of our annual turnover is set aside for marketing alone, says Bagaria

Pee Safe, which started out as a brand of toilet seat sanitisers, now sells mosquito repellents and grooming products, too. Vikas Bagaria speaks to Venkata Susmita Biswas about expanding the company’s gamut of products, the feminine hygiene market, and the rationale behind launching exclusive brand outlets.

What is your vision for Pee Safe? Starting from toilet seat sanitisers, you have diversified into sanitary pads, disinfectants, mosquito repellents, female condoms, and razors…

We started as a toilet hygiene company, wherein the target was to introduce toilet seat sanitiser sprays and help women and men by reducing the risk of getting urinary tract infection from public washrooms. This was our focus from 2013 to 2016. In 2017, I created a company called Redcliffe Hygiene, that now owns the Pee Safe brand, to address the overall category of feminine hygiene. This was a natural extension from toilet hygiene. The vision guiding this was body positivity, and that sex and menstruation are normal body functions that we need to talk about.

We cater to women, which is a large enough market to address with toilet hygiene, menstrual hygiene and sexual wellness products. For the next eight quarters, we do not have any plans to enter the male grooming category.

Having been known primarily for your toilet hygiene products, how easy or difficult is it to diversify?

We have smartly used the Pee Safe brand name for intimate hygiene and toilet hygiene products which are innovative and sustainable in nature. When we introduced sexual wellness products, we decided to go with Domina as the brand name. Furr is our skin and hair positive product range under which we have razors for women now. Raho Safe is our affordable brand of products targeted at tier III and IV consumers, with a focus on offline retail.

But isn’t the toilet seat sanitiser still your most sold product?

We have the first mover advantage in the toilet seat sanitisers segment. From a revenue point of view, 30% of our sales comes from this one product alone. However, as a category, menstrual hygiene is bigger, as we have different types of products ranging from napkins and tampons to menstrual cups and reusable sanitary pads.

How challenging has it been to secure shelf space in categories like disinfectants and sanitary pads which are dominated by large conglomerates?

Our hand sanitisers and disinfectants were launched in February 2020. Over the past one year, these products have become commodities. Therefore, it does not make sense for us to compete in this market as there is no brand loyalty there. Further, the use of hand sanitisers has been decreasing; we are not focussing on the hand sanitiser and disinfectant category anymore. However, we do have a large offline footprint. We sell in over 80 cities in India through more than 8,000 stores. We receive 50% of our sales from our offline channel.

You launched an exclusive brand outlet in Ahmedabad. Are there more in the offing? What’s the strategy there, considering modern trade and kiranas offer a wider choice to customers?

Our offline stores serve two purposes. We are following the franchise-owned and franchise-operated models. This is both a marketing and sales opportunity for us. We expect retailers and distributors to approach us to stock our products. Further, consumers can check out products and purchase them online if they prefer to do so. Over the next one year, we plan to launch 15 such outlets in tier II and III cities, where we wish to build our distribution strength. Tier I cities now contribute 40% of our sales, while the rest comes from tier II, III and IV cities, which are places of worship, tourist locations or have a high student population.

What is your annual turnover target for FY22?

The feminine hygiene market is worth about Rs 5,000 crore in India. Almost 90% of that is owned by HUL and P&G. We are playing in the remaining 10%. Therefore, by March 2022, we want to earn Rs 120 crore; our target for FY23 is Rs 250 crore. About 40-45% of our annual turnover is set aside for marketing alone. Of this, we spend 55% on digital advertising.

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