Hindustan Unilever brings out the roots, herbs and shrubs to battle Ramdev’s Patanjali


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Hindustan Unilever brings out the roots, herbs and shrubs to battle Ramdev’s Patanjali

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India’s largest consumer goods company is going all out to counter Patanjali Ayurved.

Hindustan Unilever (HUL), the local arm of the Anglo-Dutch multinational, plans to launch 20 new natural and herbal products under its Ayush brand in a bid to win back consumers who flocked to Patanjali’s ayurvedic soaps, skin creams, and shampoos.

“Ayurveda is a growing trend…” Sandeep Kohli, executive director, personal care at HUL, told The Economic Times newspaper. “Ayush is designed to attract and retain consumers with authentic Ayurveda-based offerings.”

Mumbai-based HUL is a Rs31,987 crore behemoth known for household essentials such as Lux soaps, Dove shampoos, and Surf Excel washing powders. But with Patanjali reviving the business for products made with medicinal plants and herbs, HUL is stepping up its investment in the Ayush brand, which was first launched in 2001. To compete with Patanjali—which reported a turnover of Rs5000 crore in 2016—the new range of products will be sold at mass market prices between Rs30 and Rs130.

This comes after HUL bought ayurvedic hair oil brand Indulekha for Rs330 crore in December 2015 in another attempt to edge out Patanjali by growing its portfolio in the natural and herbal products segment. It has also been revamping other existing brands, for instance, introducing an ayurvedic version of its Fair & Lovely fairness cream.

HUL isn’t the only multinational alarmed by the rise of Patanjali. Earlier this year, Colgate said it would launch a herbal toothpaste, Vedshakti, to counter Patanjali’s Dant Kanti. And in June, French beauty company Loreal brought back its Ultra Doux range of shampoos, which is being promoted as an organic brand.

HUL’s move to boost the Ayush brand could definitely help the company claw back market share, particularly in the toothpaste business.

“…In toothpaste, wherein HUL has been losing share, Ayush will help in regaining some share as the natural segment is growing at a faster pace compared to the normal segment,” Abneesh Roy, research analyst, institutional equities, at Mumbai-based brokerage Edelweiss Securities said in a note this month.



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