Procter and Gamble (P&G) India, the wholly-owned Indian subsidiary of US-based fast moving consumer goods major P&G Inc, has launched 'Rejoice' shampoo in the Indian market. This is the first shampoo launch by P&G India since its dandruff specialist Head & Shoulders shampoo in 1997.
Rejoice, known as PertPlus in the West, is said to be the largest selling shampoo brand in Asia and the third largest in the world. According to the company, on an average 1,000 bottles of the brand are purchased every minute all over the world. The product has global sales of $500 million annually.
P&G India, the number two player in the Indian shampoo market with a 15-20 per cent share is pitted against Hindustan Lever Limited (HLL), the clear category leader with more than 50 per cent share of the Rs 900 crore market. P&G's Pantene and Head & Shoulders are positioned against HLL's Sunsilk and Clinic All Clear respectively.
Analysts say this is an effort by P&G to expand its share the shampoo market. Pitted against HLL, P&G realizes the need to augment its brand portfolio. Till now P&G had only two shampoo brands in the market against HLL's six (some of the other Lever brands in the Indian market are Lux, Clinic Plus, Organics and Ayush). Analysts believe that if P&G succeeds in building a base for Rejoice, the product could emerge as a serious challenger to Clinic Plus in the long-term.
P&G also needs to address the mid and mass segments of the market. Its brands Pantene and Head & Shoulders are positioned in the premium bracket while HLL's Ayush and Clinic Plus are positioned at the mid priced range. Accordingly, the three variants of Rejoice - Rich, Complete and Silky - retail at Rs 39 for a 100 ml pack (competitively priced against HLL's Rs 37.50 for its Clinic Plus) Rs 75 for a 200 ml pack and Rs 2 for a 7.5 ml sachet. Clearly, with Rejoice, P&G hopes to get volumes at the lower end of the market.
Though P&G has gone in for a low-key launch in select outlets across the country, dealers have been asked to push the brand aggressively against HLL's Clinic Plus. Analysts predict that P&G can be expected to make more such aggressive moves this year to take on HLL and push its own growth in the semi-urban and rural markets. Company sources say the P&G India will promote Rejoice through an blitz soon.
Shampoo is the largest growing category in India with an annual growth of approximately 12 per cent. With the economy growing at more than 8 per cent, demand for shampoos is slated to rise substantially. Sachets account for 70 per cent of the market and marketers have not been very successful in getting consumers to move to bigger packs. Sachets are particularly popular in semi-urban areas due to their single convenience use and affordability.
An HLL executive said shampoo sachets provided threadbare margins and pulled down profits and revenues. ORG estimates for the quarter ending April-June '03 showed that while the shampoo market volumes grew by 7.8 per cent, it declined by 5.2 per cent in value terms.
A brand with a 'value for money' proposition could fuel huge growth in the Indian market. Industry observers predict that the launch of Rejoice will kick up a lot of heat in the advertising and marketing of shampoos, as the brand directly takes on the market leader, Clinic Plus.