Hindustan Unilever, one of India’s oldest consumer product brand, is adding a large number of ayurvedic and herbal products in the budget or affordable category to take on Ramdev Baba-promoted Patanjali, which is its biggest threat.
While HUL -- established in 1933 -- has already launched Ayush, a bouquet of premium ayurvedic products, its has failed to attract the bottom end of the pyramid, which is value conscious. Patanjali capitalises on this market, and has become the country’s fastest growing consumer goods company, and is eying more than Rs 10,000 crore in revenue in 2016-17.
“Compared to the previous higher prices; the price premium of Ayush to Patanjali is now much lower. We believe that it is a good strategy by HUL to extend the Ayush range of products in newer segments and at affordable pricing,” writes Abneesh Roy, research analyst at Edelweiss Securities Limited.
According to analysts, Patanjali’s consumer goods segment is the fastest growing, as a large number of Indians are shifting from chemical-based products to herbal-based products. Patanjali has added a dash of swadeshi to its marketing, which has helped in a faster shift towards its brand.
“Ayush already has created a brand that is premium in nature and now it being available at lower pricing will attract more consumers,” according to Roy.
After Patanjali, HUL’s Ayush is the only brand which is spread across categories -- toothpaste, soaps, face washe and face cream, shampoo and hand wash -- can give Patanjali a tough competition, especially because of its far and wide distribution spread.
Over years, HUL has penetrated into the remotest parts of India, from the hills to the deserts to villages inside forest areas. Patanjali is yet to take it distribution reach to those places.
HUL is also trying to add some novelty to its products. For example, Ayush Freshness Gel Cardamom toothpaste contains cardamom (elaichi) which eliminates bad odour and imparts fresh breath, Ayush Natural Fairness Saffron Soap contains saffrom (kesar) knows for its healing properties, and Ayush Anti-Dandruff Fenugreek Shampoo has fenugreek (methi) that has medicinal properties.
But, it won’t be easy to take away market share from Patanjali, which enjoys huge popularity and loyalty among middle-class India. “Being a lesser known brand, HUL would need to heavily invest behind ad spends on Ayush if it wants to become big in herbal space,” Roy added.
Meanwhile, Patanjali is not sitting back. “Patanjali is also premiumising by launching brand extensions like Saundarya, Danti Kanti Advanced...,” Roy said.