Aishwarya Ramesh
Marketing

"There's been increased use of face wash, thanks to heightened awareness about hygiene": Dabur's Rajat Mathur

After the launch of a face wash line under its Vatika range, we catch up with Dabur's AGM – consumer marketing to learn more about the segment.

Dabur Vatika recently announced its foray into the face wash category. The range will be available on Flipkart. Dabur's FMCG portfolio currently includes nine brands: Chyawanprash, Honey, Honitus, Pudin Hara and Lal Tail in the healthcare space; Dabur Amla, Red Paste and Vatika in the personal care space; and Real in the food category.

The new Vatika face wash range will be available for Rs 170 (150 ml). It comes in three variants – Neem Purifying Face Wash, Sandalwood Illuminating Face Wash and Honey Moisture Boost Face Wash.

"There's been increased use of face wash, thanks to heightened awareness about hygiene": Dabur's Rajat Mathur

Rajat Mathur, AGM – consumer marketing, Dabur India, says that though Vatika is strongly associated with the haircare category in India, it’s not the case in other countries. “Globally, Vatika has diversified as a strong personal care brand that cuts across several categories – including skincare, male grooming, and so on. It’s a much wider franchise internationally. In terms of a roadmap, that’s what we want to create here in India as well.”

A premium set of products has been launched under the Vatika range and Mathur mentions that the long-term strategy is to broaden the brand’s equity. He adds that the company will evaluate the responses to this product before introducing any of Vatika’s international products in India, since people who buy products from Indian e-commerce platforms are as evolved as those in other parts of the world.

Rajat Mathur
Rajat Mathur

When asked about the research that went into creating the product, Mathur replies that face wash is a fairly large category, as far as the Indian market is concerned. “We’ve evaluated this category on many parameters, including its size and potential for growth (both pre-COVID and in the current new normal). We had to understand our consumers to identify the relevant need gap in the market to be able to fulfil their needs.”

"Flipkart has been able to provide us with insights about buyer behaviour and shopper concerns."

The Vatika face wash line has been co-created with Flipkart and is available on the e-commerce platform, as of now. “Flipkart has been able to provide us with insights about buyer behaviour and shopper concerns. Putting all these elements together, we created the portfolio of three face washes under the Vatika umbrella,” Mathur mentions.

"There was increased frequency and usage of the products in the face wash category, since people wanted to wash their faces when they came back from outside."

Mathur explains that as a result of the pandemic, people are a lot more conscious about washing their faces, and also have heightened awareness around cleanliness and hygiene. “This is one of the inputs that was shared with us. There was increased frequency and usage of the products in the face wash category, since people wanted to wash their faces when they came back from outside and took off their masks.”

“It has also been important to identify the benefit that consumers seek while using face wash – whether it is moisturising, radiance, purifying, or cleansing your skin. These are some of the things that stood out in our consumer understanding. Consumers have also highlighted specific ingredients that they strongly associate with these benefits. We’ve incorporated these inputs to put together the products.”

Mathur recalls that in the past, Dabur tied up with e-commerce platforms to co-create and distribute its products – including Amazon. “They (the platforms) share their understanding of the consumer, such as information about shopper behaviour, frequency of product usage, geographical location of the consumers, brand preferences, and more. We bring to the table, knowledge about the product – including details about its ingredients, packaging, benefits, formulation, and so on.”

He mentions that last year, when COVID struck, Dabur was one of the first companies to fast-track production and create products like hand sanitisers, soap, floor cleaners, and more. Dabur also launched edible oil, cow ghee, no-nasty Vatika shampoo, etc. According to Fortune India, as of January 2021, Dabur has launched 40 new products across segments, fast-tracking the process from the normal 1-2 years to just two months.

Some of these products include Dabur Sanitize range of hand sanitisers and disinfectant sprays, Dabur Sanitize Air Sanitizer, Dabur Apple Cider Vinegar, a Vatika Select Shampoo range, Dabur Cold Pressed Mustard Oil, Dabur Cold Pressed Sesame Oil, Dabur 100% Pure Cow Ghee, Vatika Facewash range, Odomos Mosquito Killer Racquet, Dabur Masks and many more.

“Most of these are online-first launches. E-commerce is a fantastic launchpad for these innovations. Once we have a good understanding of consumers and see decent traction coming from them for the product, that’s when we start pulling these products to other channels, like modern trade and general trade,” says Mathur.

On its website, Dabur states that its e-commerce business has grown by almost 2x and had a saliency of over six per cent in 2020-21, as compared to 2.4 per cent in 2019-20. Mathur remarks that the beauty of e-commerce is that the brand can garner feedback for products, almost in real time. “Within a matter of weeks, you get to gauge their feedback to the product. It offers the opportunity to do course correction, if you need to, and then we can scale up to other channels.”

Mathur informs us that the purchase decision of a household still rests with the woman, and as far as face wash goes – the man tends to use whatever product happens to be available in the restroom. “That being said, the male grooming segment is coming up in a big way right now – with increasing demand for products, such as beard oils, etc.”

“For any new entrant in the market, the challenge is to create differentiation across all channels,” he signs off.