Mumbai: The meteoric rise of Patanjali Ayurved Ltd in India has begun to weigh on the performance of some of the biggest personal care brands owned by Hindustan Unilever Ltd (HUL), data from market research firm Euromonitor shows. 

Since 2011, market shares of brands owned by HUL, India’s largest consumer packaged goods firm, have fallen by 0.4-0.5%. This is the steepest fall in share by value among the top 20 brands in India’s personal care market—one where brand loyalty ensures market shares remain static—data from Euromonitor shows. 

The brands losing market share include Fair & Lovely, share by retail value of which fell 50 basis points to 4.6% between 2011 and 2016, and Lux and Clinic Plus, which also fell by the same amount to 3.8% and 2.5%, respectively. Fair & Lovely retained its No.2 spot in the top brands and is worth more than Rs2,000 crore, as per HUL’s annual report. Lux and Clinic are among HUL’s Rs1,000 crore brands, as per the report. This, even as HUL retained its dominance on the personal care and beauty market with aggregate share worth 25.4% by value, versus Patanjali’s 2.6%, as per Euromonitor data. HUL’s share fell 2.5% between 2011 and 2016.  

However, coinciding with this fall is the rise of Patanjali, which had a marginal presence in the beauty and personal care market with a 0.2% market share in 2011, Euromonitor data shows. It had the highest rise in share of 1.9% to become the number eight brand in India with a 2.1% share in 2016. Patanjali’s biggest sellers in beauty and personal care include its toothpaste Dant Kanti and hair oil Kesh Kanti, along with soaps, shampoos and facewashes, all marketed under the Patanjali brand name. 

In an attempt to counter the popularity of Patanjali’s Ayurvedic products, HUL has been rolling out ‘naturals’ variants of its brands that have suffered since 2011. It introduced “ayurvedic care" versions of its biggest brands Fair & Lovely and Clinic Plus in the quarter ended March 2017, and even a naturals variant for dishwashing soap brand Vim in the June 2017 quarter, as per the company’s quarterly results presentation.

HUL has also revived an older personal care brand—Lever Ayush—which it had launched in 2002. Ayush went national in the September 2017 quarter, as per the company’s latest quarterly report.

“As a policy, we do not comment on market shares; we also do not comment on individual brand growth numbers," an HUL spokesperson said in response to email queries.

“We are focused on meeting the needs of consumers across all categories. As a leader in nearly all the personal care categories, we constantly strive to make our portfolio stronger and bring leading edge innovations and products to cater to the needs of our consumers. This is evident from the newer brands that we have added to our portfolio in every category that we operate in," the spokesperson said.

Text messages sent to S.K. Tijarawala, spokesperson for Patanjali Ayurved founder Baba Ramdev, were not answered.

“We are introducing naturals variants for existing brands like Tresemme and Clinic Plus (shampoos).Then, we have our master naturals brand Lever Ayush that has now seen a full quarter of growth since its launch and we are very pleased with its performance. Finally, we have specialist brands like Indulekha (hair oil)," HUL chief executive Sanjiv Mehta said in an earnings briefing, Mint reported on 18 May.

This fight to regain market share is significant for HUL because personal care is the company’s largest and most profitable business. In the September 2017 quarter, personal care’s revenue was Rs3,910 crore, worth 47% of the company’s total segmental revenue. The segment had the highest margins of nearly 24%. In FY17, personal care brought in 48% of HUL’s total revenue and 65% of its profit, as per the annual report.

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