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Unilever plans to launch baby care products under Dove brand

India: HUL has decided to expand his brand Dove by launching a range of baby care products under its gamut. Unilever is the country’s largest consumer products company. However, for this segment, they have undergone 50-50 joint venture with Kimberly-Clark which has been making and selling brands like Kotex and Huggies since 1995. There are rumors that the company plans to divest its entire stake in the venture to focus on core products. It is predicted that several of these baby care products will directly compete with J&J’s products and will be first serious competitors for J&J’s in the country. This decision is also seen as a part of company’s strategy to expand Dove. Last decade, dove was transformed from being just a bathing soap in 1993 to shampoo, deodorants, lotions, body and face wash.

The market is favorable and demand for baby and child care products will remain high due to several factors, including rising disposable incomes, increasing number of nuclear families in urban centers, increasing awareness of child care products, and the expected rapid growth of modern retailers. Dove is taken as the fastest-growing brand in Unilever’s portfolio due to its rapidly rising revenues, from USD15.38 million in FY’06 to USD230.77 million in FY’16.

According to TechSci Research, baby and child specific products market has huge potential in India as it is estimated that there are about 26 million children born every year in the country. Also, there is a huge market which is still left untouched and uncovered. There is low reach of such products due to low income groups, improper transport channels, reduced awareness and weak supply chain. India is under-branded in baby and child care category despite of the fact that there is high potential and rising birth rates. Even less innovations and low product variants is also the reason behind sluggish growth of this category in India.

Unilever’s personal care business accounts for half of the total sales and profits of about 65%. So it is expected that the company will target the under-penetrated markets including those which have gained friction in recent years due to Government’s initiatives.

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