Fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) firms are seeing robust demand for a wide array of products launched in the past six months to capitalize on a shift in shopping behaviour during the pandemic. Such products range from ayurvedic concoctions to surface disinfectants, vegetable cleaners, honey and ready-to-cook foods.
Last week, market researcher Nielsen said it recorded 1,897 product launches in the health and hygiene portfolio since March, compared to 102 in the previous six-month period till February. Companies, however, remain cautious about how consumer demand shapes up for most of their innovations once the pandemic subsides.
In the meantime, firms are benefiting from the shift in behaviour as the new products make up a good chunk of their business. ITC’s personal care division, for instance, garners 30% of its business from new products launched under the Savlon brand.
Kolkata-based Emami is eyeing new products in home hygiene after introducing BoroPlus sanitizers and soaps. “In Q1FY21, we launched 12 products under BoroPlus and Zandu brands. The launches have contributed around 5% to overall domestic sales,” said Harsha V. Agarwal, Director, Emami.
Covid has prompted consumers to re-frame their habits into health and hygiene, immunity (healthy foods) and ready-to-cook meals, said Saugata Gupta, Managing Director & CEO, Marico. In the last few months, the makers of Parachute hair oil and Saffola cooking oil have launched honey and a range of immunity boosters—Kadha Mix and Golden Turmeric Milk Mix—under its Saffola brand. It has also launched Mediker brand of hand sanitizers and Veggie Clean, as well as premium out-of-home hygiene products under KeepSafe brand that include toilet seat disinfectants.
Mumbai-based Godrej Consumer Products (GCPL) has launched over 10 products, including a dish-washing liquid and a surface disinfectant spray, under Protekt, taking the maker of Cinthol soaps and Hit mosquito sprays to new sectors. Expansion into the hygiene space is one of the “critical growth pillars”, said Sunil Kataria, CEO, India and Saarc, GCPL. “With the extension of Protekt into personal, home and kitchen hygiene, it is a very important investment and a strategic bet for us.”
Dabur India that sells Vatika hair oil and Real juices was quick to expand its preventive healthcare and personal hygiene portfolio even as demand for its home and personal care categories and foods fell in Q1. New launches in the first quarter included tulsi and ashwagandha variants of Dabur Honey, Dabur Ashwagandha tablets and capsules, Ayush Kwath and Kadha. It also added a soap, antiseptic liquids and air sanitizers, besides launching a veggie wash.
These launches contributed 6.1% of the company’s overall turnover in the first quarter, Mohit Malhotra, Dabur India’s Chief Executive Officer, told investors in an earnings call on 30 July.