Marico focuses on children, lines up personal care products

Marico focuses on children, lines up personal care products

The manufacturer of popular edible oil Saffola and haircare brand Parachute, Marico Ltd plans to introduce a range of haircare products for children aged 4-12 years in an effort to create a market for its products in a segment ignored by most companies.

No fast moving consumer goods, or FMCG, company currently targets customers in this segment. The local arm of Johnson & Johnson largely addresses the baby care segment. However, companies such as Disney Consumer Products, a unit of Walt Disney Co., are eyeing this market.

Marico, a mid-sized consumer products company with revenues of Rs1,372 crore in 2006-07, is currently testing hair oil, gel and shampoo that can be used by children 4-12 years old. The test marketing is happening in Mumbai, Bangalore and Hyderabad. Positioned at the premium end of the market, the range was quietly introduced in these markets 10 days ago under the brand name Parachute Advansed Starz. The Starz oil is being sold in 100ml and 30ml bottles and is priced at Rs29 and Rs10 a piece, respectively. The company is testing two variants of shampoo, both priced at Rs54 for 100ml and Rs3 for 7.5ml sachets and the hair cream range is available in 60gm tubes, priced at Rs49.

“Most companies are either catering to the baby care or the adult care segments, currently. We see a huge potential in the personal care segment for children," said Sameer Satpathy, head, marketing, wellness and new products, Marico.

“We are testing these products to gauge consumer response and if it meets our expectation, we will launch nationally in the next 6-12 months," he added. The company said there was no definite data available on the size of the market.

“We don’t know the addressable size of the market.That’s what we are trying to ascertain with this soft launch," Satpathy said.

Companies catering to the 4-12 years segment mostly import products from multinationals such as the UK-based Alliance Boots Ltd and the US-based Walt Disney Co. In 2004, Hindustan Unilever Network, the direct selling arm of Hindustan Unilever Ltd, India’s largest consumer products maker, experimented with this category by launching shampoos, body lotions and bubble bath products under the brand name Little Animalz. The products, however, were phased out gradually owing to low demand.

Analysts see a big opportunity in children’s products but they caution that demand will have to be stimulated through aggressive marketing. “It is a niche category with enough potential and no massive competition. So, it presents a big growth opportunity for Marico. The company, however, will have to invest aggressively to build demand and establish its brands," said Sameer Deshmukh, an analyst at IL&FS Investsmart Securities Ltd, a Mumbai-based brokerage.