While the neighbourhood grocery stores have emerged as go-to place for consumers during pandemic times, the chemist shops have also grown in significance for the FMCG sector to take note.

Leading FMCG companies in certain categories have been ramping up their presence across pharmacies in the past one-and-a-half years, especially to tackle supply chain challenges during Covid-induced restrictions.

Research and insights firm NielsenIQ pointed out in its latest report that the chemists channel emerged as the most dynamic entity within the traditional trade segment during the June quarter, which saw the country getting impacted by the second pandemic wave. It said that the chemists channel witnessed double-digit growth of about 11 per cent in the June quarter compared to the March quarter.

Food, homecare products

It added that this was due to a diverse categories of foods and homecare products being sold through pharmacies.

Companies such as Bisleri, Dabur India and Godrej Consumer Products have in recent times said that they have ramped up their presence in chemist channel.

Angelo George, CEO, Bisleri International had told BusinessLine last month, “During the pandemic, we focused on expanding our distribution coverage at pharmacies. During the pandemic waves, in some States this was the only channel that was allowed to operate through the day. Now, we have built significant coverage at pharmacies and we are continuing to strengthen this further. While our packaged water products are being sold at various pharmacies, we are also leveraging on this channel to expand the reach of our hand sanitisers.”

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In its annual report, Dabur India stated that it in FY 20-21, the company increased its chemist coverage by around 17,000 outlets. The home-grown FMCG added that channel focus strategies helped it witness high growth not only general grocery store space but also in the chemists and e-commerce channels.

Rajiv Singhal, General Secretary, All India Organisation of Chemists and Druggists said, “In the pandemic times, there has been growing demand for categories such as hygiene and personal care products.

“Hence, chemists have also been focusing on keeping additional FMCG products as consumers relied on their neighbourhood chemist shop to not just buy medicines but also other-related essential items.”

New focus areas

The management of Godrej Consumer Products Ltd earlier this month also said that ramping up its presence in new channels like e-commerce and chemists has been one of the key focus.

Saurabh Saith, CEO, Orion India said, “Till about few years back, in terms of FMCG products, chemists channel was restricted to certain health food products etc. But in the past one and half year, aided by the pandemic, chemists have begun stocking up on a variety of FMCG product categories.

“They broadly focus on keeping fast-moving SKUs as due to lack of space they cannot stock up on multiple products in the same categories.”