Need for health and hygiene is a long term trend: ITC’s Sameer Satpathy

Abhishek Law Kolkata | Updated on February 27, 2021

Sameer Satpathy, Divisional Chief Executive, Personal Care Products Business, ITC Ltd

Sameer Satpathy, Divisional Chief Executive, Personal Care Products Business, ITC Ltd talks about consumer trends post opening-up

FMCG major ITC Ltd said that that the pandemic has given them an opportunity to innovate and come up with more “products relevant to consumer needs”.

According to Sameer Satpathy, Divisional Chief Executive, Personal Care Products Business, ITC Ltd, health and hygiene will continue to be an area of priority, in addition, there is an “encouraging upswing” in grooming and homecare segments.

He cites instances of the company launching ‘Vivel Neem’ body-wash in the natural product space or 'Savlon' augmenting its portfolio as examples of “differentiated” go-to-market strategies while understanding the relevant consumer needs.

In an interview to BusinessLine, Satpathy talks about consumer trends post opening-up, rising demand for discretionary items, urban versus rural growth and the company’s go-to-market strategy with innovative and differentiated offerings in both traditional and new retail channels.


What are the consumer trends ITC is witnessing as the economy opens up?

The year 2020 had led to various changes, including shift in consumer lifestyle. There is a desire for more balanced and better quality of life, with a focus on health, hygiene and safety as well as time for family. This has encouraged many to adopt sustainable living and the trend is only growing from strength-to-strength.

How many new products were launched post-pandemic; and what is the current launch pipeline like?

Health and hygiene will continue to be a key area of priority for consumers. In addition, we have seen an encouraging upswing in grooming and home-care.

ITC’s ‘Savlon’ fast-tracked innovation in line with emerging consumer needs, scaled up capacity and swiftly positioned new innovations in the market. Examples include ‘Savlon Surface Disinfectant Spray’, ‘Savlon Clothes Disinfectant Spray’, ‘Savlon Spray and Wipe’, ‘Savlon Germ-protection Wipes’, ‘Savlon Hexa Hand Sanitizer’, ‘Savlon Hexa Advanced Bodywash’, ‘Nimwash’ among others.

We responded to the growing preference for natural products, and expanded the homecare portfolio crafted with neem, which includes Nimyle floor-cleaner (with 100 per cent natural action and certified by TUV-Nord India), Nimwash vegetable & fruit wash and the recently launched ‘Nimeasy’ dishwashing gel (India’s first enzyme-based dishwash).

‘Nimyle’ is growing rapidly in new markets, apart from strengthening its leadership position in the east, particularly, States like West Bengal and Odisha. We augmented the range with the launch of a lemongrass fragrance variant.

Innovation continues to be the bedrock of our business strategy. We will continue to craft differentiated first-to-market solutions, addressing relevant consumer needs, and leverage advanced scientific platforms of the ITC Life Sciences and Technology Centre.

For instance, while the SavlonPichkiao with 22 per cent less plastic is an innovative offering; launching of Savlon moisturising sanitiser to enable skin friendly, yet effective hand sanitising solutions is an example of us addressing relevant consumer needs.

Can predominant categories like disinfectant sprays sustain their growth trajectory?

The need for health and hygiene is a long term trend and we would expect it to continue going forward. There might be some formats which will do better than others, and we will retain flexibility in the supply chain to match the demand trends.

Have discretionary spend items regained traction?

Discretionary categories have started to revive and we expect it to continue the upward movement as more people step out with adequate safety measures.

The deodorant category which was adversely impacted during the initial ‘Lockdown’ phase is now witnessing revival as mobility is increasing. However, it is yet to come back to pre-Covid levels. The upcoming quarters are expected to be more favourable for the category.

How is the rural versus urban growth in the FMCG-others segment?

Even before the pandemic, the gap between aspirations and consumer behaviour were becoming narrower across urban and rural markets.

The calibrated approach to protection and consciousness towards health and hygiene is similar in both urban and rural India.

Health & wellness, hygiene and immunity boosting products are now at the forefront of consumer demand across the country. Value packs have seen an increase in demand overall.

In Q3FY21, we did see FMCG growth both in urban and rural, against the year-ago-period, with growth rate being higher in rural.

How is e-commerce faring vis-à-vis traditional retail?

Traditional and online retail have both witnessed robust growth and continue to gain traction. E-commerce has certainly gained momentum over the last few months with buying habits evolving during the pandemic.

We are continuously expanding our presence across categories on e-commerce platforms.

‘Dermafique’, a digital first premium skin-care brand, expanded its range with the introduction of ‘Bio-Cellulose Face Masks’ (that are made with biodegradable fibres, derived from 100 per cent natural coconut water, using a patented technology).

Considering the larger play in the FMCG sector, which you are targeting, what are the new categories in personal care that the company may consider entering?

There’s a long term innovation agenda across all our product categories. Innovation was accelerated across categories impacted by Covid and we hope to kick start growth here. We are in the process of launching mass market perfumes under ‘Engage’ at a price of Rs 120 (for 100 ml) and have introduced a face serum for Rs 210 under ‘Charmis’ brand.

Published on February 27, 2021

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