There’s a light drizzle outside the South Delhi luxury hotel. The petrichor, combined with the mild scent wafting through the corridors, provides a rare pause in an otherwise polluted city. The fragrance originates from an artificial wall of pink Turkish roses that runs along the hotel’s ballroom entrance. There must be at least a hundred roses, one of which has found its way into the pocket of Narendra Kumar Daga’s dinner jacket. Daga, seated in the ballroom, is the managing director of Kolkata-based McNROE Consumer Products, makers of the popular Wild Stone men’s deodorants and slightly lesser-known Secret Temptation line of women’s fragrances.
Why the roses?
Our new fragrance is composed of a thousand Turkish roses, says someone from Daga’s team. We are calling it Desire, he adds.
It’s for women, interrupts Daga.
Daga runs the second largest fragrance company in India, after Gujarat-based Vini Cosmetics which sells Fogg deodorants and perfumes. As of March 2018, McNROE had a market share of 9.2% by volume—6.7% through Wild Stone and 2.5% with Secret Temptation, according to a study conducted by market research firm Nielsen and commissioned by McNROE. The study was shared with The Ken by an industry executive.
This skew between the popularity of his Wild Stone and Secret Temptation brands, he explains is the reason behind this launch. Daga wants to boost the female fragrance and deodorant portfolio of his company. He is convinced that if there is a way to disrupt the deodorant market and beat the competition, it is with female fragrances.
His company, McNROE, named after yesteryear’s American tennis legend John Patrick McEnroe, is a privately-held family business, started by him in 1986. In the year ended March 2018, McNROE claims to have earned Rs 408 crore ($59.4 million) in revenue. The company had managed a profit of Rs 2.16 crore ($314,463) in the previous financial year, according to RoC documents sourced from Paper.vc. In a departure from the ways of most modern companies, McNROE has never raised funds from outside the family, largely stayed away from media and advertising (for a while, at least), did not diversify into categories beyond the core fragrance business, and focused on growing organically.
Simple. Focused. Driven.
Daga’s company takes after the man himself. The 60-year-old perfumer is a traditionalist. A man of humble roots. Slightly reserved. No flashy clothes. No branded accessories. He’s wearing a silver-grey suit for the occasion. He isn’t bound by the trappings of wealth as he recounts traveling in buses and shared taxi cabs. He loves sports and has a noticeable competitive streak; little wonder then that he named a company after a sportsman.