Naturals a big focus for Colgate across markets, says CEO Ian Cook

Ian Cook (right), chairman, president and CEO, Colgate-Palmolive
The world's leading oral care company, Colgate-Palmolive, is aware that naturals as a trend is growing across markets, Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Ian Cook said in an investor call on Friday, adding the category was a big focus area.

Addressing analysts while announcing Colgate's September quarter global results, Cook said the firm would launch products on the naturals platform in all principal Asian markets by the end of 2017. Eurasian markets, which include West Asia (the Middle East) would see naturals-based products being launched by the first quarter of 2018, Cook said.

Colgate already has two toothpastes on the naturals platform in India, Cibaca Vedshakti and Colgate Swarna Vedshakti, the latter launched this month. In China and Russia, Colgate has recently rolled out products on the naturals platform as consumers opt for toothpastes containing local ingredients, Cook said.

"The interpretation of naturals is different in various markets. In India, naturals implies products based on ayurveda," he said, "while Russia, China and the US have a different sense of naturals, something which is more about local ingredients." Cook has been Colgate's global CEO for a decade.

The 64-year-old executive also indicated that the oral care major would drive innovations especially on the naturals platform, besides working closely with retail partners across the world including mom-and-pop stores in India and investing heavily in brand-building and advertising across markets. 

For the September quarter, Colgate saw worldwide advertising investment increase 19 per cent year-on-year, Cook said, aiding top line growth. Net sales in the September quarter grew three per cent, aided by volume increases in Latin America, North America and Europe.

"In India, volume (growth) was impacted due to the goods and services tax and the response of wholesale trade to it. We will see a gradual recovery in wholesale," John Faucher, senior vice-president, investor relations, Colgate-Palmolive, said.

For the September quarter, Colgate in India had reported a 0.9 per cent decline in overall volume growth, its fourth straight quarter of a dip. The company also continued losing market share in both toothpaste and toothbrush categories as competition grew, notably, from Dabur and Patanjali.

Cook admitted that market share loss was a significant challenge in Asia, Latin America and the US and the company was working on improving the situation. 

"Sensitivity is the only area where Colgate is not the worldwide leader, but in other areas we are and naturals is a segment we are tapping aggressively," he said.

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