...But despite these brands making and selling hand sanitisers, it seems their products haven’t reached the stores and regional brands reign supreme.
According to a Business Standard report on March 24, 2020, the hand sanitiser category in India which stood around Rs 150 crore in terms of size will soon double to around Rs 300 crore due to the increased demand because of COVID - 19.
Hand sanitisers are important to keep hands clean - an effective measure against the virus’ spread.
We spoke to local chemist stores in Mumbai who told us that before the health crisis kicked in, the prominent players were Reckitt Benckiser (Dettol), Hindustan Unilever Limited (Lifebuoy), ITC Limited (Savlon), The Himalaya Drug Company (Pure Hands), Godrej (Godrej Protekt), and Colgate-Palmolive.
Out of these, Dettol and Lifebuoy were the most popular hand sanitiser brands customers inquired for and bought.
The price of a 50ml Dettol hand sanitiser bottle was Rs. 82. On the other hand, a 50ml Lifebuoy hand sanitiser bottle cost Rs. 70.
The increased demand due to COVID - 19, unfortunately, threw the sector into disarray. One, the surge in demand couldn’t match the supply and second, distributors could not reach stores because of the lockdown across the country.
This led to an acute shortage of hand sanitisers and several retailers began to sell them at exorbitant prices. As a countermeasure, the Government of India declared hand sanitisers as essential commodities till June 30, 2020 - it meant the state governments had the power to regulate its production, quality, and distribution.
This surge in demand has also prompted several big and small brands to enter this category and start making and selling hand sanitisers.
FMCG giant Dabur launched its line of hand sanitsers called, ‘Dabur Sanitize’ in March instead of April, its original launch month. The hand sanitiser is available in three fragrances – Regular, Lemon and Strawberry and is priced at Rs. 370 (500ml), Rs. 200 (250ml), Rs. 122 (85ml), Rs. 85 (60ml), and Rs. 72 (50ml). It will first be available on e-commerce platforms and will soon be available at retail outlets.
Kaya Clinic on April 02, 2020, said it increased the production of its sanitisers. Its 50ml variant is priced at Rs. 25 while the new 90ml variant will be sold for Rs. 45.
Zydus Wellness, an FMCG brand that owns Nycil (talcum powder) also announced its foray into the hand sanitiser category. It plans to roll out more than 2 million bottles and will sell a 50ml bottle for Rs. 25.
VLCC Personal Care said on April 06, 2020, that it has initiated the production of hand sanitisers at its Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) certified manufacturing facility in Haridwar (Uttarakhand). The company said it will make the products in two sizes - 50ml and 500ml packs priced at Rs. 25 and Rs. 350 respectively.
CavinKare, an FMCG major introduced hand sanitisers under its personal care brands – CHIK and Nyle and its professional brand – Raaga. Under CHIK, the company has introduced a hand sanitiser in 2ml sachet starting at Re. 1 that can be used at least twice in a day. Under Nyle, it will cater to the category with a 5-litre pack. Smaller formats will be made available under Raaga.
In a March 23, 2020, press release, Diageo India, the maker of alcohol brands like McDowell’s No 1 and Smirnoff Vodka said it will produce 3 lakh litres of bulk hand sanitisers for use by public healthcare workers and that it will donate 500,000 litres extra neutral alcohol (ENA) to the sanitiser industry to enable the production of more than two million units (250 ml each) of hand sanitisers.
And to match the demand for hand sanitisers, ITC increased the production of its Savlon brand of hand sanitisers. It has instructed its state-of-the-art perfume manufacturing facility in Himachal Pradesh to handle the manufacturing responsibility.
Also, it announced on April 10, 2020, the launch of Savlon Hexa Hand Sanitizing liquid. It will be available in a 500ml pump pack priced at Rs. 250 as well as a 500ml Refill Pack priced at Rs. 240.
Cipla Health Ltd, a leading healthcare brand has launched an antiseptic hand sanitiser under its ‘Ciphands’ range of products. It said the "...product range has been launched at a reasonable market rate with hand sanitizers and hand rubs in multiple configurations. The entire product range will be available at leading medical stores, modern retail outlets and e-commerce stores across metro cities like Mumbai, Pune, Hyderabad, Chennai, Bangalore, Delhi, Ahmedabad, Guwahati and 100+ towns in India."
Mahindra too has entered this category and has come out with a hand sanitiser in quick time. On Twitter, when a user asked about the pricing, the reply from one of the team members who worked on the sanitiser said, “Happy to inform you that it is available at less than Rs. 400 per litre.”
Nivea India announced in a press release on April 03, 2020, that it along with key partners will produce hand sanitisers from its skincare product plant manufacturing plant at Sanand in Gujarat and donate them for free to public hospitals and healthcare institutions in Ahmedabad and Vadodra as well as to distribution partners across the country.
But, when we visited the chemist stores, none of the above-mentioned brands was available. Instead, we saw three regional brands of hand sanitisers.
We found 100ml bottles of Tosc-Sanitizer selling for Rs. 160 and 100ml bottles of Dr Clenze’s Puroclenz priced at Rs. 199.
Along with these two, we also saw a brand called ‘Hansan’ selling 50ml hand sanitisers for Rs. 135.
However, an Economic Times report on March 21, 2020, said that the government had fixed the price of hand sanitisers.
Union Minister Ram Vilas Paswan tweeted that 200 ml hand sanitiser bottles won’t cost over Rs. 100 and other sizes of bottles will be priced in the same proportion.
India's 21-day lockdown ends on 14 April 2020. However, most states have asked the central government to extend it to 30 April with certain exemptions to help the economy. A few Indian states have decided to extend the lockdown to two more weeks but are waiting for an official notification from the centre; Prime Minister Modi will address the nation at 10 am on 14 April.