- When Vikas Bagaria conceived Pee Safe, his closest friends and family members failed to understand why a ‘man’ would want to launch products for women’s hygiene
- There came a point in Bagaria’s journey when he almost sold the company and wanted to go back to his older projects, which did not make people frown and were doing rather well
- Today, Pee Safe owns more than 90% of the market in the toilet seat sanitizer category and aims to become a ₹1000 crore brand on the back of influencer marketing and disruptive products
It was on a road trip from Gurgaon to Gujarat when Founder and Managing Director, Pee Safe — Vikas Bagaria’s wife — Srijana fell sick and had to be admitted to a hospital. She was diagnosed with acute Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) after using a public restroom. And that’s when Srijana and Bagaria conceived the idea of making a product that could be sprayed on a toilet seat to kill germs and reduce the chances of UTI for women.
Pee Safe commercially launched under SafetyKart in 2013 and soon after the launch, had already sold about 1,00,000 units. The brand has now diversified into other women’s hygiene products including biodegradable sanitary pads, organic cotton tampons, menstrual cups and panty liners. Intimate wash products for both men and women, wipes and sweat pads, and a maternity care line including breast pads. Its latest venture is ‘Pollution Safe Anti-Pollution Dust Mask’, which comes into the market right before Diwali.
The brand has now spread its net across 3,000 stores in India and aims to be an international brand soon.
The Nadir of Bagaria’s Journey
While the idea was clutter-breaking, it was not an easy ride for Bagaria. There was a time when he almost sold Pee Safe to a friend.
“There came a point in my journey when I wanted to go back to my older projects, which were doing well and were professionally managed. I think it was my personal experience that made me go on, despite second thoughts. The fact that my wife Srijana suffered the infection and the thought that many other women would also be facing similar difficulties, made me stay put. There were, of course, apprehensions from many friends and my family on ‘why a man would focus on women’s hygiene products.’ However, my only answer was why can’t men make a product for women! Today, our focus is on overall hygiene and wellness and we have products across the spectrum,” shares Bagaria.
On His Way to the Crest on the Back of Digital Mediums
“Our aim is to make Pee Safe a household name through an impactful micro-influence and effective cause-leadership,” shares Bagaria.
Bagaria believes in the power of digital mediums and wants to continue leveraging the power of influencers. Wider internet penetration and awareness worked out for his benefit. He says women in Tier II and Tier III markets are also ‘waking up to alternative menstrual hygiene products and there are more women becoming environmentally-friendly’.
Pee Safe recently on-boarded a TV actor who has a ‘massy appeal’ – Anita Hassanandani, because it aims to resonate with women of all classes.
“We have 6,000 influencers who have talked about our products on our Instagram page for the last three years, out of which 80% are organic influencers. They are product users. Our TG is in the age group of 15-35 for which we spend extensively on digital marketing, which is also our preferred medium. We have also recently signed on TV actress Anita Hassanandani as our brand ambassador. She is a household name and personally identifies with our vision as well.”
However, Bagaria feels that after a brand is wide-known, the marketing spends should subsequently decrease.
“For Pee Safe, influencer marketing is the key consumer-driving medium and thus, our focus is on spending heavily on digital marketing. While we spent 50% of our total expenses on marketing in 2018, we have brought it down to 45% in FY 19. Of this 45%, online and offline have equal focus. Through the years, we have seen multiplied growth towards brand awareness and customer preference to Pee Safe.
I feel that as a brand grows year after year, the spend on marketing decreases. It’s a reverse trend. When a brand is new, it spends more on marketing. When it acquires a place in the market, the marketing budget goes down,” he says.
Fearless Marketing Strategies
It was not just a disruptive product idea and timing that worked in Bagaria’s favour, Pee Safe played out a very smart marketing tactic – it dared to speak about the issues that others didn’t. It is one of the first few brands in India to show ‘red blood’ in its campaign, which naturally sparked a conversation on social media. He wants to continue challenging taboos and raising awareness.
“We recently launched a one-of-its-kind campaign showing red blood instead of blue liquid with the aim of making period talks normal and natural. I think the shyness is drifting away gradually and more and more women as well as men are opening up to the idea. I feel that the onus lies on brands like Pee Safe to use their positioning in the market and create awareness, which is also what we aimed to achieve through this campaign. Our campaigns #OwnTheRed & #DoItTheNaturalWay aim to challenge the taboo and remove the stigma associated with periods and menstrual health in the country. The idea is also to educate and empower women and young girls on menstrual hygiene. We intend to escalate the conversations around the immediate need for a Green Switch in menstrual hygiene practices.”
He adds, “Some of the popular campaigns we have spearheaded include the Pee Room Conversations, which reached out to more than 2.5 million women across India and digital promos such as #HerPwr and #TakeCareMaa.”
Latest Endeavours and Goals Ahead
By foraying into the organic and biodegradable sanitary products segment, Pee Safe targets to capture the next promising sanitary products market which is expected to reach a value of $992.8 million by 2024. On the other side, its flagship product – Toilet Seat Sanitizer Spray continues to the ‘hero’.
“Pee Safe currently owns more than 90% of the market in the Toilet Seat Sanitizer Category and we are launching new products across the hygiene and wellness space almost every few weeks. We have witnessed an unprecedented growth of 200% in FY18 and raised $2 million from a group of investors. Going forward, our aim is to become a Rs 1,000 crore brand.”
Pee Safe is also moving towards eco-friendly and ayurvedic products, which is a niche market and a relatively challenging market to crack. Bagaria says, “It can be a challenge from time to time to convince consumers to let go of the big companies that still haven’t made their move towards more eco-friendly options.”
Currently a 101-member team that is present in 15 cities of India and some parts of the Middle East and Africa, Pee Safe aims to be a global brand that dominates the conversation around sanitation and hygiene one day.