MUMBAI, November 10
Colgate-Palmolive (India) Ltd, India's largest producer of oral care products, has jumped on to the herbal bandwagon and launched Colgate Herbal toothpaste. The product, present in 28 countries, has been customised to suit the Indian user's needs and has been priced competitively.
Colgate's new toothpaste comes at a time when the herbal toothpaste market is gearing up for big-time action. Anglo-Dutch conglomerate Hindustan Lever Ltd (HLL) has made its intentions clear with the launch of Aim a few months back. With two other brands of yesteryears, Promise and Forhans, which still enjoy fantastic recall, trying to get their act together, does late-mover Colgate Herbal stand a chance?
The Colgate-Palmolive spokesperson had this to say: "Colgate Herbal goes beyond the average so-called herbal toothpastes available in the market. With an India-specific formulation of neem, clove, mint, tulsi and, of course, the strength of calcium, we believe it's as complete as a true herbal toothpaste could be. Moreover, it's pricing provides phenomenal value-for-money. Believe me, this product will do more than survive."
In the 85,000-tonne per annum toothpaste market in the country, herbal toothpastes, with an estimated volume of 6,000-tonne per annum, constitute a minuscule 7 per cent market share. However, this small 'market-within-a-market' is pretty crowded with a number of players like Vicco Vajradanti (from Vicco Laboratories), Meswak and Babool (Balsara), and newly-launched Aim jostling for shelf-space.
While Colgate Herbal has been priced lower than the best-selling Colgate Dental Cream, it's price of Rs 12 for a 50-gm pack is still higher than most of its competitors. But according to a market-analyst, this may actually work in Colgate's favour.
"Since Colgate already has Colgate Cibaca-Top priced at Rs 8 for a 50-gm pack, it has done the right thing by pricing the new toothpaste below Colgate Dental Cream and above the economy segment. This relative higher positioning would enhance the product's image within the herbal toothpaste segment," he says.
The product retails in a lush, green packaging with a 'leafy green swirl' to communicate the added benefit of the traditional herbs used. Apart from a series of catchy hoardings, the multi-media campaign for the product features an animated character called Gillu to reinforce the 'strong-teeth-healthy-gums' proposition. While the company refused to discuss the ad-budget for the product, an executive confirmed that "there won't be a substantial increase in the media spent over last year" for its entire range.
Even if the company continues to spend on advertising as it has done so far during the current fiscal, it could still be significant as arch-rival HLL has announced plans to slash its ad budget by 35 per cent in the fourth quarter ending December. However, it remains to be seen how much of this cut by HLL would affect its oral care products.
According to market estimates, the toothpaste market has grown by 10-12 per cent over the last fiscal, whereas toothpaste prices, on an industry average, have gone up by nearly 25 per cent. In a country where nearly 60 per cent of the population does not use modern oral care products (toothpastes, powders and brushes), it's debatable how many would give up freely available items like neem sticks and graduate to a toothpaste which hopes to convert users on the promise of natural benefits.
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