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ITC mulls expansion of its range of personal care brands
Mint - 09 Jan 2009

ITC’s current personal-care portfolio includes Fiama Di Wills, Superia and Vivel brands

ITC Ltd, which made a big-splash entry in 2007 into the highly competitive market for consumer products such as soaps and shampoos, plans to expand its range of personal care brands as it strives for a bigger market share.

“We are working on three new categories. These are in advanced stages of development,” said Sandeep Kaul, chief operating officer for ITC’s personal care business.

ITC’s current personal-care portfolio includes soaps, shampoos and fragrances. These products are marketed under the Fiama Di Wills, Superia and Vivel brands. Superia caters to the mass consumer segment, Vivel targets the premium and Fiama the so-called super-premium market. Products are priced at between a low of Rs 5 for a mass-market soap to Rs2,100 for a high-end perfume.

Kaul refused to disclose details on the new product categories the company plans to introduce. Anand Shah, a Mumbai-based analyst at Angle Broking Ltd, said the segments could include skin care (moisturisers and face and body creams), handwash lotions and deodorants.

The consumer and personal care products market is highly competitive, dominated by well-entrenched brands from companies such as Hindustan Unilever Ltd (HUL), Procter and Gamble Ltd, L’Oreal India Pvt. Ltd, Dabur India Ltd and Cavinkare Pvt. Ltd. The personal care segment is dominated by HUL, whose brands, including Lux, Dove, Sunsilk and Clinic Plus, have 52.7% market share in soaps and 46.5% in shampoos, according to HUL. While ITC refused to reveal numbers related to its market share, two analysts based in Mumbai who didn’t want to be named said the company had around a 2% share of the total personal-care products market.

“Our existing portfolio has received good response and as we move forward, the company will launch more and more new products in line with the growth strategy,” Kaul said.

The Kolkata-based company recently launched a new anti-dandruff shampoo called Ultrapro in Hyderabad. The anti-dandruff shampoo market is led by brands such as Clinic All Clear and Head and Shoulders, from HUL and Procter and Gamble, respectively. ITC will use actor Hrithik Roshan to endorse the shampoo and plans to take the product national. “Usually, a national roll-out takes around five-six months,” Kaul said.

The total shampoo market, according to Kaul, is estimated at around Rs2,200 crore. Anti-dandruff brands make up Rs600 crore of this.

ITC has made sizeable investments in launching personal care products, spending heavily on advertising and promotions and distribution. The company’s sales grew 16% to Rs7,662.99 crore and net profit declined by 0.15% to Rs1,551 crore in the first six months of 2008-09. “We have very clear internal targets and milestones for our progress and we are meeting those milestones,” Kaul said about the profitability of the personal care products category.

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