The Himalaya Drug Company is the leader in the face wash category in India and the company is now looking to take on giants like Unilever, Nivea etc in categories like Shampoo, Tooth paste and even a new men’s personal care. Vineet Jain, GM- Marketing, The Himalaya Drug Company about growing the market, increasing penetration and consumption, future plans and the launch of face wash in sachet form.
What are the consumer insights you use both while marketing the product and at the development stage of the product?
There has been a lot of emphasis on consumer insights, in both our product developments and ad development, since the last two to three years. If you look at our flagship product Himalaya Purifying Neem Face wash, we are the number one brand in the face wash category and close to becoming the number one company, close on the heels of Unilever. If you compare Urban plus Rural data, we had a 22.7% market share in the face wash category in June 2015 compared to HUL’s 24.5%. We realised that to grow in this particular category and gain additional market shares, we would need to do two things - increase our penetration and get more users into our fold and grow consumption by getting current users to use more of our face washes.
Based on data and consumer insights, we realised that we need to get the young consumer into our fold when they get their pimples as our neem face wash solves this problem. This insight went into our campaign ‘Pehla Pimple’ which looked at the agony when you get the first pimple. The protagonist asks her elder sister, about her experiences who then recommends Himalaya Neem Face Wash.
We also use a lot of consumer insights in product development. We believe in problem solution and all Himalaya products emanate from some real life consumer problem. In our current project, we are developing the men’s portfolio where we want to play. We have invested in getting differentiated products in the men’s portfolio because there are a lot of sub categories we can play in.
What is your core Target Group? What is the core of your marketing strategy?
Our core target group is 15-24 yr old females and our user TG is extended is 15-35 year old.
We have been growing at close to 25-30% (consumer products) for the past four years and our marketing strategy has always been to excel in the niche segment. We are market leaders in the face wash segment and when we spoke of the pimple problem, nobody was talking about face washes for pimples. We were the only ones who came and said ‘why don’t you use a face wash?’
Similarly in shampoos we are focusing on bottles and on problem solution variants -anti hair fall and anti-dandruff and this strategy has done pretty well. Our pricing will always be mass, at par with competition, and we actually drive the pricing of the category. In case of the growing categories like Shampoo & Toothpaste, we would be looking at specific segments. In Toothpaste we are looking at Whitening and Complete Care which ensures gum protection and extending life of teeth.
Our media mix is such that we want to have presence across the year. We would be having a dominant SOV because we are the market leaders.
Could you elaborate on your media mix?
We are focussing a lot on Digital this year with the strategic objectives of starting conversation around our brands. Our digital campaign ‘Smiles of India’ initiates sparking conversations and we are looking at the emotional benefit of smiles. It is a webzine where only good news is provided. People are happy reading these articles and that is where the whole brand message of actually having those smiles comes. Digital becomes a very important part because a lot of our TG is on the digital medium. However, when you look at the cost per contact and cost per impression, TV still becomes the lead medium. This is because it provides cost efficiency and has the highest reach. So TV is still our biggest medium and 80% of our spends go on TV. However, digital has taken a lead this year and our spends are four times more and this is only going to increase in future. We are also looking at new age media, mobile interactions.
You operate in the niche category. How has this helped your growth and the growth of the category overall?
Himalaya is an umbrella brand and we only believe in the organic growth. We realise that we will never have the war chest as Unilever and P&G and we can’t take them head-on. We invest a lot to find out the new age problems of the consumer and how we can solve those problems. That is where we focus all our energies on.
In 2008-09, the face wash category was worth Rs 200 crore. Today urban and rural put together, the face wash category is around Rs 1,700 crore. We have been growing at 160-180% over the years and that’s where we have brought in new users and hold 23% of the market share. We drive the mass Lip Balm category and have also increased the user base in this category. We are bringing in new users in the new age categories such as face packs and scrubs. This category had been growing negatively for the past few years but we can’t let these new age categories lose consumers and have brought in our Neem pack and scrub to target new users. Our neem scrub accelerated the growth of the category to take it from red to black. Although the category is growing at 3%, we are growing at 40% and if you remove us the category is actually de-growing.
As you mentioned most of the categories you operate in are under-penetrated. What are the challenges in increasing distribution and what steps have been taken to address this issue?
With the geographical spread of India distribution will always remain a challenge. All FMCG companies are focussing on rural distribution as the next level of growth will be coming from there. But, for us we haven’t reached that stage yet so yes, distribution remains a big challenge for us. It requires a lot of fixed costs for us because you need to invest in manpower, distributors, logistics and at the same time you will need to change consumer behaviour.
A very important part of increasing our penetration is Neem Face Wash which we have launched in the sachet form. This will be an important driver for the category because this particular category has not seen many sachets in the past. The sachet is priced at Rs 5 for 5ml which approximately gives three washes. Rural India has five per cent penetration only and SEC D & E is at less than 10 per cent penetration for face wash. These are the segments and geographies we are focusing on.
What are future growth categories you see?
The focus categories for us are Face Wash, Face Pack & Scrub, Toothpaste and Shampoos. Body lotion still remains a focus category in the months of October, November and December.
Currently, South is a huge market for you, where will the traction come from in the future?
By 2025, the metro population will increase and the cash outlay in these cities is also going to increase. Our focus is on the metros and urban towns from where we see majority of the growth coming. We see the North as a huge market but we have relatively lower share in categories other than face wash. In face wash we maintain a dominant share. However, the other categories are relatively weak when compared to South India. So, North actually becomes a huge impetus market for us in the coming years and that is where we see a lot of money going in from the marketing point of view.