Purvita Chatterjee

Mumbai, Oct. 20

Reducing its dependence on its flagship brand Parachute, Marico plans to take its Rs 300 crore Nihar hair oil pan India to grow its hair oils portfolio.

Having acquired the brand in 2006 from HUL, Nihar has been restricted to the eastern markets but now it will enjoy an all India presence and tap the northern markets primarily.

With a volume share of 10 per cent, Nihar has been the straddling the lower end of the Rs 2,500-crore hair oil segment.

In fact, when Marico bought the brand in 2006, the purpose was to strengthen its position in the eastern markets where Parachute did not have adequate market share. Now that Nihar has helped Marico improve its share in this region, it is time to take it pan India.

Mr Sameer Satpathy, Executive Vice-President and Head Marketing, Marico told Business Line, “Nihar is going to be the next big brand for us. It has given us a great impetus in the East. We acquired the brand as we were geographically strong in the North and West but lacking presence in the eastern markets. We have reinforced and advertised the brand and promoted it in the perfumed oils category. Now its equity is picking up and we have decided to expand it geographically in the North which currently is a no-share place for us.''

Nihar has grown at 9 per cent in volume terms with its variant of Shanti Badam Amla gaining in share from 8-9 per cent in January to 13 per cent in September post the 20-25 per cent price cuts early this year. Marico is also entering the cooling oil segment with two prototypes of Nihar Natural Coconut Cooling Oil in Bihar and Parachute Advansed Coconut Cooling oil in Andhra Pradesh. Today, Parachute Advansed sells at a 15-20 per cent premium to Nihar's perfumed oils.

In fact, Marico has a lesser known hair oil brand – Oil of Malabar (which was acquired more than a decade ago), which has not really picked up share in this region. “Historically, Oil of Malabar sold in pockets in the north but we no longer invest in the brand which is a mere Rs 2 crore today,'' added Mr Satpathy.

However, amongst its three coconut oils, Parachute's volume share stands at 42.9 per cent. With Nihar and Oil of Malabar, Marico's share in the branded coconut oil segment stands at 53.3 per cent for the 12 months ended February 2010.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated October 22, 2010)
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