Tuesday, January 27, 2009

FMCG cos go slow on launches despite growth

t a time when growth in consumer products sector is quite upbeat, there have been surprisingly very few brand launches in the personalcare category this year. 

According to a recent FMCG market survey by the UK-based DataMonitor, total new product launches in personal care in the FMCG market dropped to 360 in 2008 as compared to an all-time high of 483 in 2007. In categories like soap, shampoo, skincare and toothpaste, number of product launches have decreased from 144 (2007) to 120 (2008), 67 to 47, 244 to 182 and 28 to 11, respectively. 

Industry officials say the focus has been more on mass-market products in terms of new product launches or even relaunches. 

“Most companies have been unable to reinvent and margins too are thinner owing to competition. Also, new brand launches are much more expensive than launching variants,” said Hoshedar K Press, executive director and president of GCPL. Hindustan Unilever (HUL) too focused on relaunching mass brands like Sunsilk and Ponds, Procter and Gamble’s last big-ticket new product introduction was the launch of Olay in 2007. 

“The growth opportunity in the Indian market is across the value chain of induction, consumption and upgradation. Our portfolio which includes premium brands for the affluent, value-for-money brands for the middle-income consumers and affordable quality products for low-income consumers provide us a well entrenched capability to leverage the opportunity across the pyramid of consumer value chain,” said an HUL spokesperson. 

Comparatively, players like Dabur India and Marico launched a host of mass market products in personal care. 

“In the first six months alone, we have introduced at least 15 new products and variants ranging from a range of Vatika hair products, hard surface cleaners under the Dazzl brand, Gulabari skin care range and Dabur healthcare range. And, most of our new launches are targeted at the mainstream market,” said Dabur India vice-chairman Amit Burman. 

Industry analysts point out that this mirrors the general sentiment in the market. “With most industries reeling under recession and consumers tightening their purse-strings, it just makes better business sense to target the popular price points, a segment that has clearly not witnessed any drop in demand,” said an FMCG analyst.

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