In a bid to diversify its product portfolio, Dabur India Ltd (DIL) has entered the toilet soap market besides expanding its over-the-counter (OTC) medicine range with 10 new additions over the next few months.
The company has begun test marketing toilet soaps under the brand name Vatika in West Bengal.
Mr P.D. Narang, Group Director, told Business Line, "We have begun test marketing Vatika toilet soaps in West Bengal. There is a single variant, containing saffron and honey, right now and we are positioning it on the herbal platform. We plan to launch soaps nationally after evaluating the results of this test marketing exercise."
Mr Narang said that the manufacturing of the soaps category is being outsourced at present, but did not elaborate on whether it would be manufactured in-house in the future. DIL's International Business Division is already manufacturing toilet soaps in Dubai, under the brand name Dabur, for exporting to several neighbouring countries. The Vatika and Dabur brands of soap, have totally different formulations.
According to industry estimates, Hindustan Lever Ltd controls about 60 per cent of the soap market with brands including Lifebuoy, Lux, Rexona, Breeze and Hamam. After HLL, come Nirma and Godrej with their respective brands. The medicated soap brands include Dettol and Margo.
Apart from these players, Wipro Consumer Care and Lighting is also a contender after having acquired the Chandrika brand.
Besides diversifying its product portfolio under the Consumer Care Division (CCD) with a foray into soaps, DIL has also decided to enhance focus on the Consumer Healthcare Division (CHD) this fiscal. The newly created CHD division within DIL deals in prescription-based Ayurvedic medicines and over-the-counter (OTC) products. Traditionally a business with low growth prospects, CHD closed 2004-05 at Rs 107.8 crore.
Some of the existing OTC products of DIL include cough and cold formulation Honitus, isabgol called Naturecure, and memory enhancer Shankhpushpi. Mr Narang said the company would widen this product range with 10 new additions over the next few months.
"We are ready to launch at least 10 new `adjuvants' - ayurvedic medicines that are taken along with other medicines - for diseases ranging from joint pain and diabetes to cardiac trouble. This will be done under the CHD division. There is a growing market for such products and since DIL had gained vast expertise in the area of ayurvedic medicines, we see immense potential in this category."
After the Balsara acquisition earlier this year, DIL has seven new brands in its basket - Babool, Meswak and Promise in oral care and Odonil, Odomos, Odopik and Sanifresh in home care. With soaps and new OTC additions, it looks as if the company will have its hands full this fiscal in marketing new products. It has already announced merger of the three Balsara oral care brands under brand Dabur, even as the home care brands will continue on a stand-alone basis for now.