Hindustan Unilever (HUL), the country’s largest consumer goods company, is eyeing new product categories in a quest for more growth.
At an analysts’ conference call on Wednesday, the company indicated it would introduce the Dollar Shave Club razor brand into India at an “opportune time”. It has already extended the presence of its Dove brand into the baby skin care category, with bars, lotions and wet wipes. While a schedule for introduction of the Dollar Shave Club was not indicated, most analysts expect HUL to do so in the next six to eight months.
It already has a presence in the overall Rs 5,000-crore male grooming market in India, with brands such as Fair & Lovely Men, Pond’s for Men and Axe. A razor brand was a key missing link and will pit HUL directly against Procter & Gamble’s Gillette, leader in the Rs 2,000-crore shaving category, a sub-segment of the overall male grooming market.
As a category, male grooming has been growing at 20-25 annually and is expected to maintain this pace as more men aspire to look good.
Dollar Shave was acquired by parent Unilever this July in a $1-billion acquisition, its second-largest American purchase after its $3.7-bn buying of beauty major Alberto Culver in 2011. Unilever had introduced one of Alberto Culver’s popular brands, Tresemme, into India within two years of acquisition. It is now a key part of HUL’s hair care portfolio, with annual sale of Rs 150-200 crore, say analysts.
When announcing the September quarter results on Wednesday, Managing Director Sanjiv Mehta had said hair care growth was led by Dove and Tresemme, despite personal care as a whole being affected by the performance of soaps.
And, that Dove’s extension into the baby category was the right time to do so, as it had in the past decade established itself as a trustworthy brand, having entered the categories of body care, skin care, hair care and deodorants. Dove’s extension into the baby category will imply a direct collision with Johnson & Johnson, the market leader.