Wipro Consumer Care and Lighting is relaunching its Yardley range of deodorants in India, primarily targeting women.
The FMCG arm of Wipro Enterprises intends to gain a significant share of the highly competitive market, which largely caters to men and includes brands such as KKR-backed Fogg, Nivea, Hindustan Unilever’s Axe, Wildstone and ITC’s Engage.
“We currently are the third-largest player in the women’s segment and seventh-largest in the men’s deodorant segment. Our objective is to gain leadership in the women’s category and then see how we can further grow in the men’s segment too,” said Manish Vyas, business head for Yardley India.
Yardley Gentleman, targeted at men, contributes 30-35 percent of the brand’s business in India, according to the company.
Wipro Consumer acquired the India business of the over-200-year-old Yardley brand from the UK’s Lornamead Group in 2009. The company had then pushed deodorants and talcum powder along with aggressive marketing campaigns featuring Bollywood actor Katrina Kaif.
“We almost grew the brand by 10 times in the next few years,” said Vyas.
However, growth in the deodorant category stagnated from 2016. The company started rolling out floral perfumes and in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, pocket-sized sanitisers. Now, it wants to again focus on its core offering of deodorants.
Wipro Consumer has roped in Bollywood actor Kriti Sanon as its brand ambassador and is also increasing its distribution network. The company has not advertised its deodorant products in the past four-five years.
“Covid-19 had also impacted the category, but now we feel the consumer is back and we need to get the maximum share of the segment we are targeting,” said Vyas. “We are present in about 1.5 lakh outlets currently and our plan is to increase our direct distribution by about 20-30 percent and indirect distribution by 50 percent.”
The company is peddling the product on the organic plank, coupled with its heritage, and claims that 90 percent of the ingredients are derived naturally.
The deodorant segment has been getting competitive of late. Global investment giant KKR, which has invested in companies including Reliance Retail, Eurokids and Coffee Day Enterprises, infused Rs 4,600 crore in Vini Cosmetics, the maker of Fogg deodorants, in June.
According to industry estimates, the overall market for deodorants in India is Rs 4,000-6,000 crore, of which women’s products command a 30-35 percent share.
The biggest challenge for companies in this segment is the relatively low retail presence. Deodorants are sold in about 800,000 outlets in the country compared with other personal care products like hair oil, which are available in as many as 8 million stores, according to industry estimates.
“Urban India is better penetrated but the product is yet to take off in the rural areas due to its high pricing. A deodorant costs upwards of Rs 200, which makes it a costlier proposition for rural consumers,” said Ankur Bisen, a senior partner at Technopak Advisors, a retail consultancy.
Most companies including Wipro Consumer have introduced pocket-sized products priced at Rs 60-70 to improve sales in rural areas.
“Cracking the rural market is important for the companies in the segment if they want to go to the masses,” added Bisen. “Also, with the entry of so many players, the segment has become highly competitive and requires high marketing expenditure to gain eyeballs.”Wipro Consumer will have to tackle challenges on two fronts – trying to get ahead of the curve in the competitive environment while also convincing more consumers to try out the product.