Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Mera Wala WHITE -Fairness Products in India

Skin lightening or fairness cream is the most dominant category in the Indian Skin Care Market & has become the only cometic product to enter the Indian household customer basket.India is the largest market for fairness products in the world followed by other Asian countries.The connotation of fairness for Indians is associated with British rule.Through the ages Indians have developed a conditioned mindset where fairness is equated with power & superiority.This is the reason that almost all the FMCG & Cosmetic companies in the country have fairness cream in their product portfolio.

The current size of the market is estimated to be around Rs 15,000 crore with players like HUL having 76% of the market share with their power brand Fair & Lovely followed by other players like Godrej's Fair & Glow,Elder's Fair One,Emami's Fair & Handsome,Nivea,Garnier etc.Also players like Dabur & Himalaya have forayed this category.The target audience for the firms is the age bracket 18-30 years;however the age bracket of users has become as low as 12-15 years which constitute almost 13% of the entire segment.Anothar interesting feature of this category is lack of upscale from single-brand usage to multi-brand usage.Therefore inspite of constant education by firms regarding difference in male & female fairness creams,most men continue to use female fairness creams.In TamilNadu Men contribute almost 60% to the sale of female fairness creams.This can also be due to the fact that in most households women is the prime decision making unit & multi-brand fairness cream usage is considered profligacy by them.

There is a constant debate over the efficiency of fairness creams.Typically fairness creams show their action by lowering the melanin content in the skin.However,any extrinsic agent that interferes with normal melanin synthesis(melanogenesis)can be harmful for efficient dermal system functioning.Therefore a good product should only restore correct melanin synthesis & not make it less or more.Ingredients like Hydroquinone & Mercury used in fairness creams are banned by FDA.The prolonged usage of these ingredients lead to a condition called 'Ochnorosis' where there is a permanent darkening of the skin.Ingredients like Kojic Acid which are effective in reducing melanogenesis in the skin are widely used in many fairness creams;however in order to be effective their concentration should be high(>2%).This concentration is hardly found in any skin lightening products available in the market.

Fairness creams as a segment is definitely going to grow in the future.These products have a Pan Indian presence with maximum penetration in Andhra Pradesh & least in Gujarat.Products like Fair & Lovely have also undergone huge product innovation to cater to customers across various SECs.For instance inorder to cater to SEC C & D F&L introduced 9gm sachet to make the product economical.

However,one of the biggest threats for this category can be the wide accpetance of dusky women in Indian Film Industry.Also movies like Dhoom-2 popularized the 'tan look'.Therefore in the future the need of the customer is going to change from 'Fair skin' to 'Healthy skin'.However that future is yet too far & fairness products are here to stay.Afterall for Indians beauty is still skin deep.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Transition from Prescription to OTC

In the recent past quite a few brands have created buzz by transiting from prescription to OTC(over-the-counter)segment.Typically a prescription drug becomes OTC when the drug is used for treating a non-chronic illness which is easy to self-diagnose & will not lead to abuse due to its widespread presence.Also the safety profiling of the drug is of prime importance for granting OTC status.Besides it is believed that popularity of the drug should be extremely high so that it could sell without Doctor's endorsement.

Brands like Revital,Calcium Sandoz,I-Pill,Strepsils etc have adopted an extensive rebranding program inorder to establish themselves in the OTC market.Quite a few brands have completely modified their 4Ps and given themselves a holistic overhaul.For instance,Calcium Sandoz Woman was called Sandocal Chew which was indicated for osteporosis in woman.When Novartis decided to foray this product into the OTC market it decided to launch it as an all together new brand .
Also I-Pill (which is a 'morning after pill' used for emergency contraception(EC)) launched by Cipla had to undergo suitable restructuring before launching in the OTC segment Viz:there were suitable changes made in the dosage of the drug.Typically most of the ECs selling through prescription route have 'twice a day' dosage;however I-Pill is a single dosage drug & thus has a greater compliance-definite prerequisite for OTC drugs.

One of the biggest challenges in selling drugs through the OTC route is the acceptability of the product by the customer.When a drug is prescribed by the doctor the patient has a compulsion to buy it but incase of OTC drug the 'compulsion' changes to 'choice' & customers' personal preferences like taste,color,price,packaging etc come into being.Thus the company has to switch from BTL advertising & make the product popular through ATL advertising techniques.In this case the biggest threat is the FMCG category as several OTC brands which have small advertising budget face head-on competition with FMCG behemoths which have huge advertising budgets & also wide shelf presence.Example Protinex versus Boost.Also,the key DMU(Decision Making Unit)incase of OTC drugs is the chemist unlike prescription drugs.Thus firms have to target chemists to improve point of purchase sale for the product.

Overall OTC is a challenging segment & while there are definite advantages there are various challenges too; inorder to fare firms have to analyze their muscle power before testing the market.