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'FMCG cos need to understand NewGen'
Economic Times - 18 Jan 2010

ITC entered the highly-competitive personal-care business in July 2005. Within a short span of five years, the company launched an array of brands. Each product offers a unique value proposition to the consumer, Sandeep Kaul, CEO for personal-care products business at ITC, told ET.

Excerpts:

Despite being a late entrant, how did the company’s personal-care products business make inroads in a short span?

Consumers have shown great acceptance to our value propositions. The personal-care market is one of the largest markets in the Indian FMCG space. There are entrenched players in this category with long international heritage. Consumer-centric insight along with our capability to develop innovative products on the basis of these insights have been the key drivers for developing a strong presence in this industry. The future strategy will be to win consumers with innovative and winning value propositions.

What is the positioning of the company’s personal-care product brands?

Indian market has multiple consumers with multiple consumer needs. We developed and launched a portfolio of brands appealing to various consumer segments with their differential value propositions at appropriate price points. Essenza Di Wills, the first brand launched in 2005, targets the prestige segment of the market and offers a unique range of personal-care products manufactured in France. Fiama Di Wills is a premium range of personal-care products offering perfect balance of nature and science. Vivel caters to the mid segment of soaps and shampoos. It also offers a premium range of soaps under the brand name, Vivel Di Wills. A sub-brand of Vivel shampoos, called Vivel Ultra Pro, targets the growing anti-dandruff segment in the shampoo market. Superia brand caters to the popular segment.

How has the rollout been in the personal-care category compared to your precedents?

We have entered multiple consumer segments in multiple markets with a portfolio of products within a short span. Currently, we are working on a few categories. Brand extensions and new launches will happen as and when they are ready. In the personal-care industry, consumers are more conscious of the intrinsic value proposition. It is always a differential value proposition that drives consumer choice.

What attributes capture minds of consumers now-a-days?

NewGen consumers have been born in the age of ‘plenty’. They have been exposed to a plethora of products in every category they have interacted with. So, they love flexibility and the freedom to choose from multiple options. They do not get bogged down by past heritage. Brands in the personal-care industry need to understand this change. One needs to invest time and resource to understand NewGen consumers and to develop new products or variants so that they can offer multiple choice. Some of the forthcoming challenges for the industry will be fast turnaround in product development, shorter product lifecycle and innovative value proposition.

How has R&D and product innovation helped growth of the industry and ITC?

Extensive R&D and consumer research are keys to develop a product portfolio with unique and differentiated offerings. Product innovation in this industry leads to addition of new features to the product and provides new and additional benefit to the consumers. We at ITC wanted to design a brand portfolio that will help us target every consumer with a unique and differentiated set of offerings. The products were developed with extensive research at ITC’s R&D centre. Help of renowned industry experts was taken to ensure superior benefit delivery to the consumer. The packaging was developed in collaboration with international design houses. Every element of the mix was extensively researched with lakhs of consumers, feedback taken on board and improvements executed to offer a suitable value proposition to our customers.

What will be the advertising strategy of the personal-care products?

We engage with the consumer with a 360° approach. All relevant media are leveraged to communicate the brand message. Each media has a marketing objective to deliver. Advertising is developed, often in a media-specific context, and measured rigorously so that marketing objectives are met.

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