HLL is betting on ayurveda to deliver its next big-buck growth.
Over the next three years, the company plans to use its Ayush brand of health and beauty care products, its branded Ayush therapy centres and its 2,50,000-strong direct marketing network to carry the message of ayurveda to millions of households in India.
Work on this project has already begun with at least a hundred of the top performers among direct marketing consultants being given comprehensive training in the finer nuances of ayurveda by collaborator, Arya Vaidya Pharmacy.
Over the next few months, several hundreds more will participate in the ayurvedic initiation programme called `Diksha'.
"We intend to use our strong direct marketing network to sell many of our ayurvedic products in the days to come and when that happens, it is necessary that the person selling the product is able to convince the consumer about the goodness of the product,'' said Mr Vipul Chawla, Business Head, Consumer Health Care.
The company's ayurvedic cough syrup, `Cough naashak', is already being marketed to consumers by the direct marketing consultants.
HLL is also simultaneously expanding its presence in the ayurveda market where it is all set to introduce a beauty and complexion cream in its personal care range.
The company plans to launch the ayurvedic beauty cream in the next few weeks.
Also on the anvil is a foray into the nutritional supplement business where it is all set to launch a product for children in the next few weeks.
"There is an emerging space for alternate therapies in the market and we want a part of the action,'' said Mr Chawla.
With a Rs 2,000-crore market for such products, currently dominated by a clutch of players at the national level and regional-level players like Zandu, HLL is determined to get a slice of the lucrative pie.
Last year, it spent upwards of Rs 2.5 crore on R&D alone and over Rs 7 crore on branding the Ayush portfolio.
"While ayurveda and so-called herbal remedies are flourishing in the country, thanks to the fact that our legislation requires no clinical trials for such products, our attempt is to bring to the ordinary folk the goodness and authentic experience of ayurveda and its benefits,'' said Mr Chawla, adding that the collaboration with Arya Vaidya Pharmacy, the leader in the field, was an indication of its focus on authenticity.
With enquiries coming in for the ayurveda products from overseas and Unilever's policy of clinical tests for every product under its group, the company's 30-odd scientists and its extensive product development and testing team have their hands full.
Meanwhile, the company is planning to significantly expand its national presence in the ayurveda business taking its branded Ayush Therapy Centres to the major metros.
"In addition to tapping the growing demand for such services in metros, these centres are doubling up as real-time research centres from where we constantly receive feedback on various products and treatments so that we can make the necessary changes or adjustments faster.''
Beginning with a single Ayush Therapy Centre offering the range of ayurvedic personalised health advice and therapies eighteen months back, the company currently has 12 such centres and is gearing up to reach the 30-centre mark by the end of the year.