Brands launching new products with immunity, health and hygiene in focus

Dabur talks about honey as an immunity booster while ITC promotes its vegetable washing brand as a must-have to keep the virus out of our homes
While the pandemic has shuttered down several businesses, it has also served up hope for some; the health, hygiene and personal care categories being among its biggest beneficiaries. The cluster is growing and reinventing itself at breakneck pace; there were 350 plus hand sanitizer launches in the March-May 2020 period alone, while hand wash brands are rapidly scooping up the market, adding close to 300,000 households per week in the last 14 weeks, according to a report on the impact of Covid-19 on consumption patterns by market research agency, Kantar.

Pre Covid-19 hygiene, as reflected in the consumption of branded products to further cleanliness and wellness, was largely an urban phenomenon. And even in urban India, the category was highly fragmented with a large presence of unbranded products. The pandemic has dramatically altered the landscape, with consumers seeking out trusted names for a category that has assumed universal importance, both in rural and urban markets.

Taking advantage of this, companies have not only launched new products and increased their advertising around immunity, health and hygiene but have also stretched the scope of the category. For instance, there has been a flurry of incremental innovations to the brand promise, such as a floor cleaner that promises to kill the virus or a bread that bakes in immunity boosters. 

New niche segments have become a part of the overall immunity-hygiene category too, for example, vegetable washers, athleisure (promoting fitness as an immunity builder) and other such products. “The demand for hygiene products is rising sharply from a household consumption standpoint,” said K Ramakrishnan, managing director-South Asia, Worldpanel Division at Kantar. 


He believes that the growth is here to stay and brands have looked to cement their place in the new behavioral landscape through innovative enhancements, extensions and communication.

Sunil Kataria, CEO-India and SAARC, Godrej Consumer Products (GCPL) points out that the company has quickly put together a basket of products to serve the different needs emanating out of the pandemic. “We just introduced Godrej Protekt’s comprehensive personal and home hygiene range of 12 products. This also includes innovations such as one-rupee hand sanitizer sachets,” he said.

The speed with which the pandemic has changed habits around hygiene could mean this is a temporary shift, but on the other hand marketers point out, given the intensity of the pandemic, change could be permanent. Either way brands do not want to lose out on the opportunity.

The Kantar report says that the health, hygiene and immunity category including hand wash, hand sanitizer along with floor cleaners post Covid-19 (March-May 2020) is worth Rs 11,495 crore, a 24 per cent jump over the same period last year. The category has been growing steadily, in 2019, for instance, it expanded by 10 per cent over 2018, but the pandemic has been an accelerator. 

The desire for cleanliness and hygiene is being bundled up with health and protection from the virus, thereby widening the scope of the category. According to the report, there has been a sharp rise in demand for wellness drinks for adults (as distinct from health drinks for children) and branded immunity-boosting formulations. Wellness drinks grew 87 per cent in the March-May 2020 period over the same period the previous year, which grew by a low 4 percent over the previous corresponding period. 

Dabur India CEO Mohit Malhotra said that there has been a surge in demand for its flagship immunity booster products like Dabur Chyawanprash and Dabur Honey, which are facing a stock-out in the market. Dabur has expanded its presence in the personal and household hygiene space with 15 new products, he added. 

Many brands are extending their beauty and personal care products to meet the need of the hour. Priti Sureka, director, Emami said they were expanding their presence under the BoroPlus and Zandu labels. “Our products are affordably priced for mass consumption,” she said, adding that Emami rushed its launch of personal hygiene products and hand sanitizers, bringing them to market almost a year ahead of schedule. 

Anshu Budhraja, CEO, Amway India, said, “We have observed a spike in the sale of immunity supporting SKUs by almost three times, including the Nutrilite traditional herbal range as well as in the personal hygiene and home-care categories.” Marketers said that the pandemic has been a boon for the category but brands must be able to articulate their promise and purpose clearly to make the most of the opportunity.

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