Patanjali sales declined, showed a down market rate in ayurvedic products.

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In the first half ended June, ayurvedic products grew 2% in volume while the overall fast moving consumer goods segment grew 3%, according to data from Kantar Worldpanel, the consumer insights arm of WPP. This is also the first time when the market for natural products grew slower than the overall fast moving consumer goods segment, a sharp deviation from earlier years when it expanded twice the rate compared to the average FMCG growth rate.

The Baba Ramdev-led firm’s urban volume sales declined 2.7% during the 12 months ended April 2019, while its rural sales grew 15.7%, according to Kantar Worldpanel (formerly IMRB), a global consumer research firm owned by communications and advertising giant WPP. The overall natural products market grew 3.5% in urban India, unchanged from a year-ago period, while the rural market expanded 5% against 4.4% earlier.

Even as Patanjali, which challenged multinationals’ dominance in the consumer segment, declined 14% during Jan-June period, other companies said they have witnessed a sharp consumer shift towards natural products, post COVID. This is more pronounced in food segment as people prefer healthier variants.

“We are seeing a surge in sales of immunity boosting products. In fact, with rising consumer interest in seeking benefits from such products, we have stationed immunity consultants in several of our stores who can help with insights. As a value-add service, we are also arranging free calls to nutritionists for our consumers to bring science into the conversation,” said Devendra Chawla, managing director at Spencer’s Retail and Nature’s Basket chains.

Over the years, Patanjali's aggression drove the market for natural products, helping such brands reach 89% of all Indian households, compared to 76% just three years ago. Within ayurvedic products, personal care brands have the highest penetration of 86% but grew 5%, its lowest ever followed by 10% salience for household products which fell 13%. Also, the category failed to expand its reach since a year, indicating that the pace of new households buying such products has halted.

Dabur, the market leader in ayurvedic products, said factors such as rising health concerns and awareness about the side-effects of western medicines are driving the consumer preference. “The spread of the COVID-19 pandemic has led to a sharper growth in consumer interest, awareness and demand for ayurvedic therapies and medicines. People are now more inclined to prophylactic health remedies, especially immunity boosting products,” Mohit Malhotra, chief executive officer at Dabur that saw a near ..

Since the past three years, Hindustan Unilever relaunched Ayush, acquired Indulekha haircare brand, and also launched Citra skincare brand to spruce up its presence in the naturals space. Similarly, L’Oréal launched a haircare range under the Garnier Ultra Blends, made with natural ingredients, while Colgate launched natural toothpaste brand Vedshakti.

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