COVID-19 is making crores more Indians turn to Harpic and Dettol

Reckitt Benckiser said that Dettol achieved the highest share in soaps in India for the first time last quarter, beating HUL's Lifebuoy.
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Thanks to COVID-19, household cleaning products have seen an uptick in use. For British FMCG major Reckitt Benckiser, Harpic turned out to be that product, with the company announcing that over 2 crore new customers used it in India as compared to a year before, following a change in consumer behaviour.

"In India, we have seen a continued increase in the penetration of Harpic following behaviour change campaigns, with over 20m more households using the brand compared to last year,” the company said.

India is reportedly Harpic's biggest market.

In an earnings call, CEO Laxman Narasimhan said that the business in India continues to perform very well. ll. “I think our business in India continues to perform very well and we are pleased with the progress that the team is making, and the strength of some of our brands in India and the ability for them to navigate what is a complex operational environment is something we feel very good about,” he said.

RB on Tuesday reported a revenue of 3.51 billion pounds for July-September, up from 3.21 billion pounds a year earlier.

The result was helped by four growth drivers — improved hygiene penetration, strong market share performance in Hygiene and Health, into new places with Dettol and Lysol (sold as Lizol in India) directly sold in 19 new markets in 2020 and innovation-led growth in new spaces.

Commenting on the results, Narasimhan said, "The strong momentum in the first half has continued in Q3 and we are on track to deliver low double-digit like-for-like net revenue growth for the full year.”

“Our performance has been led by an increase in Hygiene and Health volumes, led by our market-leading disinfectant brands - Dettol, Lysol, Sagrotan and Napisan. Growth has been underpinned by better customer service levels and an improved supply chain performance, together with strong momentum in eCommerce," he said.

RB (Reckitt Benckiser) owns several brands such as Clearasil, Enfa, Lysol, Veet, Dettol, Air Wick, Durex, Mortein, Cillit Bang, Nurofen, Nutramigen, Scholl, Strepsils, Vanish and Harpic.

The CEO did not offer any specifics, but said that the Indian market performed very well during the quarter.

In India, the company competes primarily with ITC and Hindustan Unilever. During the previous quarter results, which was a few months into the pandemic, the company claimed that Dettol soaps achieved the highest share in soaps in India for the first time, beating HUL's Lifebuoy.

“We are seeing significant behaviour change and penetration increases are very strong and we will meet medium term growth expectations across developed and developing markets sooner than expected,” he said.

As expected, Narasimhan added that the demand for disinfectant products had been exceptional in recent months. “We expect structurally higher levels of demand to persist longer term as new consumer cleaning and sanitation habits become ingrained,” Narasimhan added.

Another product that the company has reported an increase in sales is its sexual wellbeing brand Durex during the July-September quarter in the emerging markets of China and India.

“In sexual wellbeing, Durex has gained share in both China and India, key emerging markets for the business,” said RB adding the “improved performances” from Durex had benefited from the recovery in markets. Earlier, RB had reported a decline in sales of Durex brand in the January-June (H1) period in the global market.

In addition to the overall favourable market backdrop, the strong LFL (Like for like) growth reflects good market share gains in a number of key categories, with consumers favouring trusted brands in times of uncertainty. Over the outlook for the year, the company said it now expects to grow in low double digits. Earlier, it was expected to grow in ‘high single-digit.

"2020 like-for-like net revenue now expected to grow ‘low double digits’ (previously ‘high single-digit’); other guidance unchanged," said RB.

With PTI inputs

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