Koshy George, CMO, Marico Limited walks us through the company’s diverse portfolio and tells us why localisation will remain key to the company’s continued growth

08 Jul, 2019 by CHRISTINA MONIZ

Q] You recently launched the Parachute Advansed Coconut Crème Oil. Tell us a bit about the insight behind that launch.
Parachute is one of the iconic brands today in the country not just in hair oils but also in personal care. The kind of equity the brand enjoys goes beyond the category that we operate in. One of the challenges for us was that new-age millennial consumers do not typically follow the hair oiling routine that older consumers do. They look for personal care products that are quick and effective. The need for hair nourishment still very much exists among millennial consumers so our latest launch, Parachute Advansed Coconut Crème Oil was aimed at delivering hair nourishment in a quick 30-minute routine. That’s why the campaign line ‘oil ka naya avatar’ conveys a natural upgrade to the good old oiling routine. Look at another personal care category – hand washing for example, which has now moved from soap to liquid hand wash. It’s about creating new-age formats and products that drive relevance with a younger set of consumers. So far, the product has seen a good response in these early months in both modern trade and e-commerce.

Q] You have a wide range of products under the Parachute Advansed umbrella. How are you marketing each of these?
We have a lot of successful variants under Parachute Advansed. For example, we have the jasmine variant, which is more fragrant. Another recently launched product, Parachute Advansed Aloe Vera has been a great success too. With each of these products, we are addressing different consumer needs. Some consumers want lighter oils, while some want fragrant ones and some need products that are suitable for pre-wash nourishment. We adopt a customised strategy for different needs. You will also observe that our marketing for each of these is largely customised and localised according to specific markets.

Q] How are you marketing your hair serum brand Livon in a market that is increasingly flooded with premium, international brands?
There are a lot of international brands in the market but Livon still holds about a 70% share when it comes to serums. So, we are a distinct market leader. We continue to lead in this market for two reasons –firstly because it is a fantastic product and secondly, because we have innovated with Livon really fast. One of our recent innovations for instance, is a ‘shake and spray’ product that gives you a salon-like finish on the go. We also have a Livon serum for coloured hair and one for very dry hair. Aside from innovating real fast, another thing that gives us an edge is the way we engage with consumers, especially millennials. A lot of our communication is content-based, involving collaborations with bloggers and influencers. That has helped us gain an advantage because serums as a category is still relatively new.

Q] So your media mix for the newer product launches is largely Digital?
We also do a good bit of television so ours is a 50-50 media mix of TV and Digital. While Digital is growing tremendously, TV viewing has not died out yet. Though early adopters for these products are largely urban and millennial, there is a huge need in the non-metro markets too, so we are making our new launches more accessible there. For example, we now offer Rs 3 sachets in some of these markets.

Q] Would you say that a greater percentage of growth for Marico’s various hair care brands comes from the non-metro, Tier II markets?
There are many ‘Indias’ and the way I see it is that there are growth opportunities everywhere. We identify opportunities in specific markets and then create business models for each. For example, the Parachute Ayurveda franchise is very strong in the South markets. On the other hand, the Crème Oil is targeted more at the urban, millennial consumer.

Q] How are you looking at growing the other hair care brands in the Marico portfolio such as Nihar Naturals?
Hair oils, as a category, has multiple opportunities and there is tremendous scope for growth. While Parachute is the core franchise for us, we have had great success with the non-Parachute range as well. Nihar Shanti Amla today is the largest hair oil brand by volumes in the country today and it has upstaged Dabur as the market leader in the North. Not many know this because Parachute is the brand that gets talked about a lot but Nihar Shanti Amla is one of our most successful brands. Nihar is a phenomenally strong brand in the eastern part of the country. Ten years ago, Shalimar was the market leader but in the last six years, Nihar has taken the lead in the East. As far as communication goes, our advertising for the Nihar portfolio is largely on TV and on mobile. For the East market again, we have created an innovative product in the Nihar portfolio – Nihar Naturals Extra Care designed to tackle hair fall. We’re seeing a really good consumer response to this launch, and are premiumising the market with this product. For Hair & Care, we have identified an opportunity to create a premium product with Hair & Care dry fruit oil. Then we also have launched True Roots, another premium and botanical offering designed to
tackle greys.

Q] What is the kind of market share that Marico’s hair oil brands enjoy currently?
Marico’s value added hair oil brands enjoy 34% of the volume market share in India.

Q] You also handle the Saffola portfolio that has seen a fair bit of diversification over the years from edible oils to oats. Tell us a bit about your plans for the Saffola range of products.
For Saffola, the lead business is oils. Creating greater relevance is a clear focus area for Saffola. As a brand, we undoubtedly own heart equity. The focus for us at Saffola is on prevention of heart disease early in life, so our work for this brand is largely centred on building awareness of heart disease and its prevention. That was the brand’s core purpose 20 years ago and it will continue to be that way going forward. In the oats category, one of our big achievements has been making the grain more palatable. While we have quite a few variants in the oats category today, we see plenty of opportunity to replicate regional flavours and localise the product line. So, educating consumers and unlocking new flavours and cuisines will be the way forward for Saffola.

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