Patanjali turns pace setter for FMCG companies in India

New Delhi: Call it the Patanjali effect. If you are in the packaged consumer goods business and the market is India, the pace setter is Patanjali Ayurved Ltd, the company set up by yoga guru-turned businessman Baba Ramdev and the mantra for success is to launch herbal and ayurvedic products, never mind your multinational antecedents.

Amway India Enterprises Pvt. Ltd, the local unit of American direct-selling company Amway, is the latest to join that bandwagon, having launched a bouquet of dietary supplements that consist of traditional Indian herbs like tulsi, brahmi, ashwgandha, amlaki, vibhitaki and haritaki, under the Nutrilite brand. Nutrilite accounts for about 50% of the company’s total sales in the country. The new range, according to Amway, is projected to generate Rs125 crore in revenue by 2020.

“The range is specifically developed using Indian traditional herbs keeping in mind the nutritional requirement of our Indian consumers. The new range will help accelerate Nutrilite’s growth further in India,” said Anshu Budhraja, chief executive officer of Amway India.

However, Amway is slightly late to the party. Other multinationals, especially those with oral care and personal care products, have already revived their herbal, or natural and ayurvedic products portfolios in the past couple of years—soon after they started feeling the squeeze by Patanjali Ayurved that rides solely on ayurvedic and natural products, backed by Baba Ramdev’s aggressing marketing.

Hindustan Unilever Ltd (HUL) and Colgate-Palmolive (India) Ltd, the local units of MNCs, were the first to react. Colgate launched Cibaca Vedshakti, a toothpaste made of natural ingredients, to counter Patanjali’s Dant Kanti herbal toothpaste that had made a dent in Colgate’s market leadership by then. HUL relaunched Lever Ayush for its ayurvedic products and acquired Kerala-based ayurvedic hair oil brand Indulekha for Rs330 crore in 2016. Both the companies managed to arrest declining growth.

Unilever, the parent of India’s largest packaged goods firm HUL, in October 2016, for the first time, acknowledged the impact of Patanjali Ayurved and has been launching herbal products since to fight competition.

In a conference call with investors in October 2016, Unilever head of investor relations Andrew Stephen said Patanjali is a company that “everybody is looking forward to with lot of interest” in India citing rationale behind HUL’s efforts to ramp up “naturals” products to capitalise on the fast-growing segment.

But the decision to follow Baba Ramdev’s footsteps is paying off. “We continue to see benefits from our launches in the naturals space with Colgate Cibaca Vedshakti and Colgate Swarna Vedshakti driving incremental sales,” Ian Cook, global chief executive of Colgate-Palmolive, said in the company’s investor call in January this year.

An HUL spokesperson agreed that the firm has been benefiting from its revived naturals portfolio. “Naturals as a segment has been growing fast and is a trend that is increasingly visible not just in India but also in several parts of the world. HUL has taken specific actions to leverage this growing opportunity. We have beefed up our Naturals segment with the relaunch of Lever Ayush,” said a spokesperson for HUL.

Besides the Ayush range of skin care, hair care, oral care, and bath and body products targeted at the masses, HUL has premium ayurvedic hair oil and shampoo under Indulekha brand. There’s more. The company has also extended fairness skin care brand Fair and Lovely hair care brand Clinic Plus with ayurvedic variants.

Homegrown companies are not lagging. Dabur India Ltd, which was hit by Patanjali’s honey and chyawanprash in the initial quarters, has already launched some ayurvedic products and has lined up a range of fresh launches across hair oil, shampoo and healthcare. According to Dabur India’s management projections, Ayurvedic products will constitute more than 75% of its sales in India by 2020, from around 60% at present. “The future will be driven by ayurvedic products,” Sunil Duggal, CEO of Dabur India, said in an earlier interview.

Kolkata-based Emami Ltd and Bengaluru-based Himalaya Drug Co., which have been selling herbal or ayurvedic products for long, have gained from their traditional herbal positioning and have been expanding. While HUL bought Indulekha, Emami acquired ayurvedic hair oil and shampoo brand Kesh King from SBS Biotech Ltd in June 2015 for Rs1,651 crore to boost presence in the ayurvedic space.

Even traditional ayurvedic firms, such as Kolkata-based Shree Baidyanath Ayurved Bhawan Pvt. Ltd, the country’s largest maker of traditional ayurvedic medicines, are gaining from Patanjali’s popularity. “We have been growing at 18-20% compounded annual rate during the last four years. We aim to cross Rs2,000 crore in three years from Rs1,100 crore revenue at present. The emergence of Patanjali and Baba Ramdev’s marketing of ayurveda has increased awareness among the masses which in turn has expanded the market,” said Ameve Sharma, president, Shree Baidyanath.

Herbal products comprise 6-7% of the personal care products market, but the volume is growing at about “twice the segment average” and herbal products are estimated to account for about 10% of the segment by FY20 as the trend accelerates, equities research firm UBS Securities said in a report.

Market research agency Euromonitor International, in a report said, “Competition in the natural, herbal and ayurvedic market within beauty and personal care is expected to remain intense. Mass brands like Dabur, Emami and Patanjali are expected to continue to educate consumers about benefits of using natural products, through product promotions and in-store displays.”livemint

%d bloggers like this: