The Wahl Clipper Corporation in Sterling, Illinois, USA is the world’s largest manufacturer of electrical hair clippers with subsidiaries around the world. Wahl products are available in 165 countries around the world and popularity of the brand is only rising with each passing day. Recently the brand touched the glorious landmark of 100 years.
Wahl is probably the pioneer in clipper technology But What would you say is the contribution that Wahl has made to innovation in Hair tools and clipper tech in the last 5 years?
Wahl looks at innovation in 2 ways- Revolution and Evolution and we think we need both in order to stay the market leader. Evolution is continuous improvement, we look at the needs of stylists and barbers, take feedback locally and try to incorporate those to improve our products.We are always trying to evolve our existing products.
The Revolution part is to come up new products and technologies that haven’t been seen. We do this from 2 main locations- Our Head office in US and through our world-leading development department in Germany.
We continually strive for innovation.
What is the brand mantra and philosophy for your company? What is the promise that Wahl gives its consumers that other brands don’t ?
The two key elements to our brand are end-user added value and quality.
We look to add value by helping people(stylists and barbers) do their jobs better- making it quicker, easier or help them make more money. But behind it all there has to be quality, we are the no.1 clipper company in the world. We invented the hair clipper and we have to offer quality. We ensure we deliver that always to the users.
They say that 80% of your sales normally come from 20% of your skus, what is that SKU of Wahl which is the favorite with the consumers and/or professionals ?
That is largely based on region and even at the country level. In India the Super taper and Ambassador are very well known clippers and market leaders and the Beret trimmer is third in line. A lot depends on the country, which product were launched originally and the needs of local hair stylists there.
I would say that Super Taper clipper is the number one in global sales. Because of its superb, consistent quality and reliability it is known as the no.1 clipper in the world.
We are present in 160 countries and the major markets are the ones we started in originally. Being based in the US, it remains are strongest market, holding 50% market share in the professional business. We are also strong in Canada, UK, Australia.
Our biggest growth areas are the new markets- The Latin America, The Far East, China and India. These are the areas with excellent opportunities.
Do you prefer to establish a subsidiary normally or partner with distributors ? What are the qualities you look for in a potential partner/distributor?
Wahl would always prefer to go with its own subsidiary in a country. If we open up in a country we would like to do it directly ourselves. When you have a distributor or a whole-seller in between it gets tougher to get closer to the end users and understand their needs better.
Where possible we prefer having own subsidiaries, make the commitment to the market, to the industry and get feedback right from the end user. That is not always the case and we do have wonderful distributors we have partnered with around the world. Honesty and commitment are the 2 main things we always look for from our partners.
Wahl started business catering primarily to barbers and hair stylists and now caters to consumers on a large scale? Why did the shift in target market happen and what does the current ratio of professional to consumer stand at ?
The professional businesses still remains the core of our company and that’s we are founded on.
Consumer business is looked at as complimentary business. Our aim is to provide quality products to the consumer and these products do not hurt the professional business. Also when the brand is used by the professionals, it gives the consumers the confidence and trust that the product will be of high quality.
Professional is still our biggest business globally but the opportunity in Consumer just because the size of the market is huge and we will continue to develop that business as well.
You’ve headed marketing in the Middle East and Europe earlier. Do you have a different strategy for India vis a vis the other regions ? If yes Why and what is it? And if no, why not?
We are now looking to develop the local capabilities whether it’s in Europe, Middle East, India or parts of the Far East.
We want to develop the teams who have the capabilities to understand the local end user to allow us to develop the right products, offer the right education and support. We will focus our efforts at the territory level.
The German manufactured Moser brand is dominant in the Middle East market.
We have 2 major brands in ME- Wahl and Moser. The Moser brand being leading technology and European designed and manufactured is very dominant in the barber beauty business. We also have major distribution with the more traditional 1400 Clipper which is well known in India.
What would you say is the percentage of marketing and sales of Wahl products via ecommerce as compared to traditional sales and marketing techniques, globally and in India?
Our e-commerce strategies are continually evolving. A lot of consumer products are sold via ecom and we support that. Wahl has rather been slower than other companies in jumping into ecom for professional products because we want to continue to support the traditional distribution model we have. We feel that by pushing the sales through ecom we would be disloyal to our dealers, distributors and whole- sellers.
When it comes to professional business we continue to support our current distribution model. However we will not be unrealistic and understand the future importance of e-commerce even to the professional barber beauty business.
One of the biggest challenges we are facing in India right now are the fakes and copies of our products. That is highly damaging to the brand, its reputation and also the industry.
When the barbers and consumers do not get the expected quality, reliability and even warranty, they usually blame the brand.To combat the fakes and copies in India we have a team working full time. It is certainly not an easy job but we will continue to fight the counterfeits.
Being a North American company we aren’t used to seeing copies in local US market. However, in countries like India, China and South East Asia we see a lot of copies and fakes. As i said, at the end it is damaging to the brand and the industry.
What are the future countries you are looking at expanding to in the near future?
Opening a subsidiary in Turkey was our last venture. In the last few years we have been fairly aggressive in opening subsidiaries. We opened subsidiaries in Russia, France, Italy, Turkey- it’s been a fairly large expansion. We are continuing to look for opportunities to open local subsidiaries to support the industry and our customers.
What are your plans to celebrate the centenary of Wahl, a huge milestone for any company?
A 100 years is fantastic milestone for any company. You’ll see our plans shaping up in the next couple of years and I am sure it’ll be exciting for everyone.