Young, urban customers feeding growth of hair transplant clinics
New Delhi/Mumbai/Bangalore: Shane Warne has done it.
So has Michael Vaughan.
And, closer home, Virender Sehwag.
So, it was no surprise that Sahil Madan, now 28, decided, to do something about his receding hairline. He spent Rs.81,000 for the treatment and says he is satisfied with the result.
Customers such as Madan—young, urban, well-heeled and just that little bit vain about how they look—are the reason why newspapers and magazines are replete with before-after ads for hair clinics that offer anything from a treatment to a complete transplant.
“Today, we’re not just dealing with extreme cases of baldness. We are seeing a number of young people coming to us to improve the quality and thickness of their hair, so they can experiment with different styles and looks,” says Sanket Shah, chief executive officer at Advanced Hair Studio that has branches in India and the Middle East.
The company boasts a clientele that includes Warne (who appears in an ad for it wearing a T-shirt saying “No Hair, No Life”), Sourav Ganguly and Jacques Kallis (surely, there must be a connection between cricket and hair?).
Not everyone who wants a transplant is necessarily going bald, says Arihant Surana, who has been in the business of implanting hair for half a decade.
“Earlier transplants were linked to baldness; now (people go in for them because) looks also play an important role,” adds Surana, currently medical director (India) at Alvi Armani International, an American chain of hair transplant clinics that claims to have re-maned some of the biggest names in Bollywood and Hollywood, a member of a royal family, a famous football player, and executives at Fortune 500 companies.
Indeed, in recent years, grooming has becoming important, even to men, and a mini-boom for everything from beauty salons to cosmetics to hair weaving and hair transplant centres is the result.
“India is passing through a phase where grooming is big business. Looking good is considered very important, and more people are spending money on products that do that, especially men. Over 75% of this market is dominated by men. Younger men, as young as 23-24 years old, are increasingly looking at getting hair transplants done,” says Gaurav Marya, chairman of Franchise India Holdings Ltd, a company that specializes in franchising, which has clients such as Dr A, ADHI India and DHI India.
In 2010, the global hair restoration industry was worth $1.9 billion (around Rs.10,260 crore today) and India contributed 14% of that, according to a 2012 report by Francorp, an arm of Franchise India. The market grew at an average rate of 22% over the past three years and is expected to grow by 37% between 2012 and 2015, it said.
Analysts said hair care treatment is much more expensive in the West compared with India. The average cost of transplantation in the US is about $4.5 per follicle against just $1.75 per follicle in India, the Francorp report said.
And it no longer appears to be about a mid-life crisis. From 35-40, five years ago, the average age of his patients has fallen to 25-30, claims Surana. Men looking to get married or promoted form the majority of the patients.
It isn’t just men. According to Advanced Hair Studio’s Shah, the hair loss problem that was predominantly a “male” issue now also brings in a fair number of women. “Socially, in a country like India, it is perfectly acceptable for a man to be bald. However, this does not hold true for women. Six years ago, 85% of our clients were men and 15% of our clients were women. Today, that percentage of women walking through our doors with hair-related issues has risen to 40%,” he says.
The result is a market that is slowly moving towards being more affordable. Arpit Goel, head of marketing at New Delhi-based Berkowits Hair and Skin Clinic, says that pricing has declined with more companies entering the business and better technology.
“It’s not for the super rich any more; the upper-middle class, too, can afford it now,” adds Goel who offers services at Rs.1-1.5 lakh, with a facility of equated monthly instalments thrown in.
That demand has encouraged hair clinics to sprout.
Advanced Hair Studio, which is present in Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Chennai and Ahmedabad, plans to invest Rs.250 crore over the next three years to expand its footprint to 15 cities.
Rich Feel Health and Beauty Pvt. Ltd has 58 outlets across 27 cities today, and plans to ramp that up to 250 outlets over the next two years, with a capital expenditure of Rs.50 lakh per clinic. A treatment would cost anywhere between Rs.49,000 and Rs.1.99 lakh.
And the competition has resulted in a flurry of ads by rival companies.
“If you’re out of sight, you’re out of mind,” says Apoorva Shah, the person behind Rich Feel Health, referring to the crowded market for such treatments, which includes a multitude of fly-by-night operators. “You need firepower for expansion, and in that sense, the private treaty has worked well for us. We had a topline of Rs.1.5 crore five years ago. Today, we have a topline of Rs.60 crores.”
Shah’s reference is to an arrangement with Brand Capital, a firm that is part of the Times Group. In return for a stake in the company, Shah gets advertising and promotion space in publications run by the group and also claims to author a column on (what else) hair for the group. The Times Group, which publishes The Times of India and The Economic Times, competes with HT Media Ltd, publisher of theHindustan Times and Mint.
The preferred method of advertising is the before-after one, says Marya, with most companies preferring to use celebrities. “They are paid well, so they don’t mind appearing in the ads,” he adds. Then, it’s not as if they can hide the transformation in their appearance.
Source : http://www.livemint.com