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Times Internet sees 70%+ profit margin from MensXP content-to-commerce brand

By Dawn McMullan

INMA

Dallas, Texas, USA

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MensXP was founded in 2009 by Angad Bhatia and acquired by Times Internet in 2012. Every month, MensXP connects with more than 30 million men (more than 2 million active users a day) around topics that help them better navigate their social lives. The brand is deeply embedded in the social fabric of India’s urban youth.

“Over the years, MensXP has built its prominence as a quintessential new media brand,” Bhatia said. “Its relevance is spread across its stories, captivating and entertaining videos around inclusive masculinity, and a range of progressive topics that nudges the society forward.

“Followed by millions — quite literally — the brand essentially cuts across publishing, video, and commerce, all full-stack. Essentially, MensXP operates at the unique nexus of content, community, and commerce.”

Times Group wanted to use trust of the brand to create private labels and brands. It researched gaps in the men’s grooming category, building brands and products in-house to serve these gaps. Because the company built these products itself, it sees a 70%+ margin, which is a much higher margin than other affiliate revenue. Young men love this product and can now purchase durable and stylish clothes, as well as beauty and grooming products, Bhatia said.

A growing market

MensXP operates in a US$2 billion market that is expected to grow to US$8 billion by 2024. It competes with the likes of Myntra (a fashion e-commerce site owned by Flipkart), Walmart, Nykaa (a leading local beauty eCom vertical), and a few others.

Thanks to a massive reach and large social footprint, MensXP has carved its own unique niche as a leader in the men’s category.
Thanks to a massive reach and large social footprint, MensXP has carved its own unique niche as a leader in the men’s category.

“Owing to its massive reach and social footprint, MensXP has carved its own unique niche as a leader in the men’s category,” Bhatia said. “While our publishing and video units are much older, the brand forayed into commerce in 2019. We believe that MensXP is at the inflection point of multiple emerging macro trends in India.”

This is driven by:

  • The new Indian male consumer, socially active with higher disposable income and aspirations for a better lifestyle.
  • Hyper growth in e-commerce in India, driven by rapid growth in men’s fashion and grooming categories.
  • The democratisation of brand discovery, driven by social media and the emerging creator ecosystem. MensXP, acquired by Times Internet in 2012, connects with more than two million active users each day.

The model is a combination of offering products owned by someone else and those owned by the Times. It’s a full-stack e-commerce business, meaning Times Internet controls all touchpoints of the customer journey — from discovery and demand generation to warehousing and logistics.

Times Internet has dabbled in commerce in other business units as well: 

  • Economic Times: This trusted finance publisher is evolving to a multi revenue model business unit by building a portfolio of strong products and services like ET Money, an investment and money management app.
  • Gadget’s Now: This trusted technology publisher, driving affiliate commerce on established marketplaces.

“MensXP is a curated marketplace for the needs of the modern Indian men,” Bhatia said. “We select the best and most fashion-forward brands that match the sensibilities of our target audience and at the right price. Currently, we have over 400 brands live on MensXP, including a suite of our own community-driven, direct to consumer offerings in unique and niche men’s categories.”

One example is MensXP MUD, India’s first men’s beauty brand. “Because men today care about not just how they look but where those products come from, it was important for us to keep our formulations natural and organic — and the heart of all of it was our community-first approach,” Bhatia said. “We had witnessed these conversations taking place on our platform, and wanted to galvanise these conversations into a fruitful close-knit community.”

MensXP Shop, a minimalist clothing label, is another commerce initiative. The brand was born of a similar pursuit of wanting to create a line of easy, comfortable, and functional premium cotton clothing to wear all day, meeting the demand of the modern-day lifestyle.

While the brand is a male-focused platform, it does reach some women.

“Many million men are habituated to [MensXP] for daily advice that helps them navigate their social lives,” Bhatia said. “However, our rapidly growing commerce initiatives have led to a steady rise of demand around festive occasions like Raksha Bandhan and Diwali, etc., by a female audience primarily driven by a gifting intent.” MensXP features more than 400 brands, selling directly to its male audience.

The MensXP team consists of 120 employees across publishing, video, and commerce. Working together, this team’s goal is to get to 10,000 daily transactions by the end of 2020. “We’re doing so by essentially taking a chunk out of the more established platforms by better addressing the needs of Indian men and by creating an overall customer experience that’s tailored to the unique needs of our progressive audience,” Bhatia said. “We want to be the go-to choice for Indian men that wish to lead a better life. We want to equip them with the right advice, tools, services, and products to ensure we’re delivering on that promise. Our commerce ambition is new, and we’ve been able to carve out a unique niche for ourselves in the market in certain commerce categories. But we have a long way to go.”

This case study originally appeared in the INMA report Content-To-Commerce Brings Revenue In Post-Advertising World, free to INMA members.

About Dawn McMullan

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