Godrej fortifies its health and wellness play

Viveat Susan Pinto, Business Standard, 29 April 2014

Four-and-a-half years after first stepping into the hygiene space with a range of hand sanitisers under Godrej Protekt, the Rs 7,582-crore Godrej Consumer (GCPL) will relaunch the brand next month.

In the process, GCPL will take on Hindustan Unilever's Lifebuoy and Reckitt Benckiser's Dettol, both of which are positioned on the health and wellness platform with a range of products from soaps to handwash.

GCPL MD Vivek Gambhir says that the new Protekt, armed with new packaging, formulation and fragrance will be available mid of next month at modern trade outlets in Tier I and II cities. "Besides hand sanitizers and handwash, the range will also include mosquito-repellent sprays. The latter is a new segment. Normally, consumers are used to applying mosquito repellent creams to prevent mosquito bites. This is a convenient water-based body spray that can be applied easily," Gambhir says.

The range will include five products to begin with and will be priced at a 10-15 per cent premium, notably, in the handwash and hand sanitiser segments. "We will set the price benchmark as far as mosquito repellent sprays go," Gambhir says, without divulging details.

GCPL is expected to expand the range in the coming months after evaluating initial response to the new set of products. Gambhir did not indicate whether a foray into a germ-protector soap is on the cards, since that has been the missing link in the portfolio of the country's second-largest soaps maker. While GCPL has Godrej Vigil, a grade I health soap, the latter is a small part of its portfolio. According to industry estimates, HUL's Lifebuoy remains the largest-selling soap in the Rs 10,000-crore market with a share of about 15 per cent, followed by its Lux at about 13-14 per cent, and Dettol at about 8.5 per cent. Wipro Consumer Care's Santoor comes in at number fourth with a share of about 8.2 per cent, sometimes trading places with Dettol for the third spot since the competition is fierce between the two.

While the soaps market has grown in low single-digits in the last few quarters, the health and hygiene segment, which constitutes about 25-30 per cent of the overall category has shown traction with consumers' growing health consciousness. Most health and hygiene brands from Lifebuoy, Dettol to Santoor have stepped into emerging segments (such as handwash and hand sanitizers) in a bid to capitalise on this trend.

These players are also innovating with product formats, by creating sub-segments such as one for kids and for adults, with attributes such as freshness, energy and skincare, besides germ-protection.

GCPL's new range also appears to be taking a cue from this market behaviour with two handwash products targetted at adults (Master Blaster and Master Chef) and one at kids (Happy Foam).

Competition's watching closely

Analysts say that HUL and Reckitt Benckiser are expected to watch GCPL's moves in the health and hygiene space closely since the two have been waging a stiff battle for consumer mindspace in the segment. Germ protection is an attribute that both players have been fighting hard to own. The battle has shifted from personal-wash to surface-cleaning after Dettol extended into kitchen-cleaning gels a year ago. While HUL is not present in the household insecticides category, GCPL's move to launch a mosquito-repellent spray could prompt a response from Reckitt Benckiser, which has a pest-control brand in Mortein.

Gambhir says that Protekt will be the core platform that will ride health and wellness, implying that the company is likely to extend it into many more categories.