Monday, July 26, 2021

Dabur’s Rajat Mathur on the new plant-based premium shampoo range

Dabur has launched four variants of ‘all natural’ shampoos under its Vatika Select range. The brand’s Head of Innovation talks about the insight behind the launch, TG, pricing and more.

If you visited e-commerce platform Flipkart over the last weekend, you would have stumbled upon a promotional banner for Vatika Select, Dabur’s newly launched plant-based shampoo range.

The newly launched Dabur Vatika Select premium range includes four products: Coconut Milk Extract shampoo, Moroccan Argan Oil shampoo, Red Onion Black Seed Oil shampoo and Apple Cider Vinegar shampoo. All four contain pure and natural botanicals.

As per the brand, the Coconut Milk Extract shampoo strengthens hair, checks damage and restores moisture. Its natural ingredients provide restorative care, and make your hair look soft and healthy. Moroccan Argan Oil shampoo strengthens your tresses and keeps them healthy. It restores smoothness, silkiness, and also helps reduce hair loss and dryness. Red Onion Black Seed Oil shampoo promotes healthy hair, clarifies blocked roots, and smoothens hair cuticles that make hair glossy and lustrous. Apple Cider Vinegar shampoo cleanses scaly buildups to let your scalp breathe free. This helps in overall hair health, and makes your hair smooth and shiny.

Launched exclusively on Flipkart last week, a 300 ml bottle of Dabur Vatika Select shampoo costs Rs 449. The product is currently available at an ‘inaugural discount’ rate, and Flipkart also delivers it across India.

Rajat Mathur, Dabur India’s Head-Innovations, says that the shampoo range is targeted at the consumers who are used to shopping on e-commerce platforms. “Which means these consumers are more evolved, more aware of what’s happening around them, and more deserving in that sense. The product has been specifically designed for them and has, therefore, been formulated that way.”

Rajat Mathur

Mathur specifies that the shampoo is made of ‘all natural’ active products and has no sulphate, silicone or parabens. It does not have any additives, which are present in most mainstream hair care products. “The product is targeted at a niche group of consumers who are looking for such propositions in the products they consume (use),” he says.

Mathur points out that the demand for such (‘all natural’) products has been gaining traction over the past couple of years. In his words, “The demand did prevail previously. The acceptance has probably increased post-Covid.”

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Mathur goes on to add, “This is an e-commerce first initiative as of now. As the business builds up (for the product), we will, of course, add new variants, the design graphics will enhance, packaging design will, perhaps, improve. It is all a part of a brand’s journey.”

For now, the brand is digitally promoting the newly launched shampoo range on Flipkart. Mathur mentions that as the brand sees traction for the product, it will scale up the availability and launch it on other mainstream modern and general trade platforms. Dabur will then also look at other avenues of advertising and generating demand.

Industry speaks:

The science-based Ayurveda company has launched the plant-based product range at a time when many brands are inclined towards ‘science and technology-backed’ and ‘lab tested products’ due to heightened consumer interest. What is the equity of ‘all natural’ products in such times?

Sharda Agarwal, Co-founder, Sepalika

The marketers are moving strongly on ‘goodness of naturals’ trajectory. The ingredients that were once seen dowdy or downmarket (read: coconut or neem) are being wooed with gusto because the West has now made them fashionable for us.

Sharda Agarwal

Except that this time, the nimble-footed smaller startups have made the first move. They’ve introduced an expansive range of products, and created strong promotions on Instagram with actual users’ and influencers’ experiences.

Dabur’s launch picks the traditional – coconut, and marries it with the exotic – saw palmetto or onion seeds. The entire package – ingredients, branding and pack design – makes for an attractive offering. This line will leverage Dabur’s equity in Ayurveda and naturals, while creating a new premium imagery layer.

The competitors have had a head start. Argan oil is passé. Tried Bakuchiol yet? But Dabur’s distribution strength will make it to shop windows across cities faster than you can pronounce Bakuchiol.

Sourabh Mishra, Brand Strategist

People are re-evaluating many of their consumption choices today. While the most obvious reason can be ascribed to ‘making healthier choices’ to counter the pandemic fear, there are other reasons beyond the ‘healthy choice’.

The world hit a pause button with the onset of the pandemic. While the first and most obvious reaction for most people was to adopt practices which would help counter this threat (like healthier choices, immunity builders etc.), this pause also made people look deeper into their overall life and lifestyle choices and how these choices were impacting the planet and thus their lives on the planet. Gen Z leads this thinking as they know they will be inheriting a broken planet, mainly due to the older generations’ choices. And they know that they will have to make different choices if they hope to fix the problem.

Sourabh Mishra

A movement towards plant based products and away from chemical laced ones fits in with this overall trend. It’s healthier for them personally and it also seems to be a more planet-friendly choice.

People, especially the younger and more affluent consumers – the kind Vatika Select seems to be targeting given its packaging and price – resonate well with this trend.

Indians also have a very strong belief in the ‘do-good’ properties of natural (plant based in this case) products. When backed with the equity of an Ayurvedic brand like Dabur, it seems like a winner in the making.

A note of caution though: these ‘evolved’ younger consumers are also some of the most aware people. They are also cynical and thus tough in their constant evaluation of corporate and product brands. If the brand’s ‘say’ or ‘promise‘ does not match the brand’s ‘do’ or ‘actual delivery’, these consumers can be rather unforgiving. So Dabur Vatika needs to ensure that the product measures up to the brand promise. Or be ready to face the wrath of these ‘plant based product’ loving people.

Harish Baijoor, Brand Guru and Founder of Harish Bijoor Consults Inc.

Plant-based is a USP in itself. In many ways, it is modernising the language of Ayurveda to a more contemporary global audience that distinguishes between the plant-based, the egg-based and the chemical-based.

Harish Bijoor

In many ways, plant-based is Ayurveda in a new bottle/label.

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