Big Interview: The Road Ahead

The journey of Anchor Group began in 1962 with a moulding unit to manufacture components for electrical accessories. Nearly 30 years down the road (in 1992), the FMCG arm of the group set out on its journey a breakthrough product – India’s first vegetarian toothpaste. And mind you that by then Anchor had already become the largest electrical accessories brand, a sector hitherto dominated by large multinationals. Over the next 12-13 years it became a leading player in the toothpaste market and then thought it fit to foray into the personal care segment, rolling out Dyna beauty soap. The growth and success story continued. And now Anchor Health & Beauty Care Pvt. Ltd, in its present avatar, is a formidable player and one of India’s fastest growing companies in the FMCG market with significant overseas presence in the MENA region. Speaking to Ritwik Mukherjee of Financial Chronicle, George Angelo CEO Anchor Health & Beauty Care, delves at length on the growth of its FMCG business vis-à-vis the growth of the Indian FMCG sector, its strategies to take on the MNC giants, brand building, the way forward and so on. Edited excerpts:

What is the overall size of health & beauty care market in India? At what rate is it growing?

It is very difficult to define this category as definitions keep changing, however if you were to look at the soap market it is more than Rs 160 bn + and the Toothpaste category is more than Rs 90 bn and both are growing at a healthy rate both in value and volume.  We expect that these two categories will keep growing especially with a good monsoon predicted this year and the rural economy bouncing back.

Right now you are present in only parts of this market, right? How big is the segment where you currently operate and what is your current market share? What is the market share that you are looking at over the next 2/3 years?

Yes we are present in parts of this market, our strong markets have been in North and West India in both the oral care and the personal care portfolio.  In both the categories we are present in the value for money segment where we target the discerning Indian consumer who doesn’t like to compromise on price or on quality.  Our aspiration is to double our size over the next 2 to 3 years and given our recent launches we are confident of achieving this.

How many products do you offer from your stable now? How many more would you like to add in near future?

In the personal care space, we have Dyna beauty soap which is endorsed by Bollywood celebrity Shraddha Kapoor, it is available in six exciting variants and commands a strong equity in the northern and western parts of India.  Just couple of weeks ago we have started offering Anchor Germ Protection Soap,which is targeted at the hard working and value seeking consumer who looks for a high performance soap.  This soap is powered by a Tri-Active formula and is available in 5 variants.  This new soap has been well received by our distributors and is being touted as a strong contender in the cluttered space of germ protection.  Now we have 2 value offerings to two very different sets of consumers and we aim to make big dent over the next 2 to 3 years.

In the toothpaste category we have just relaunched all the three brands of our toothpaste – All Round Protection, which is an everyday white toothpaste, Cooling fresh Gel, which is a red gel toothpaste and Clove power toothpaste.  All the toothpastes are completely refreshed and come in new and modernised packaging and with very unique benefits.  Anchors white toothpaste is almost 20 per cent lesser on cost versus the leading brands and comes with a free toothbrush and is 100 per cent vegetarian.  This kind of value offering in a white toothpaste offers the consumer a great choice over competition.  In the Cooling fresh Gel we are using Japanese cooling technology crystals – which provide a great flavor and long lasting freshness, this again is priced almost 10 per cent below the leading gel toothpaste.  In Anchor Clove Power we are offering one of the best Clove experience that consumers will get.  All three are aimed at refreshing our lineup in oral care.  Very rarely do you get to see a complete restage in all three segments! 

We also have a new range of toothbrushes, which we launched in January 2018.  These toothbrushes are quite robust as they are made with DuPont® bristles which enable them to last longer than traditional Indian toothbrushes which have been generally made using cheaper PBT bristles.  Our commitment is to offer the best quality at the most affordable price and our belief is that the Indian consumer will be inclined to pick up this superior quality proposition.

Current year plans are focused on making the new launches more robust and ensure that we are able to distribute them across our priority markets.

How many brands/sub-brands do you have now? How many more would you like to add?

Currently we have 2 soap brands Dyna Beauty Soap and Anchor Germ Protection Soap.  In Oral Care we have  4 brands Anchor All round white toothpaste, Anchor cooling fresh gel toothpaste, Anchor Clove power toothpaste and Anchor Toothpowder.  In Toothbrushes we have a long range starting with MRP Rs 12 brushes and going upto Rs 35.  Also have 2 kids range toothbrushes and a tongue cleaner as well.  Like stated earlier our aim is to consolidate this portfolio in the current years and we are yet to finalize any plans for new launches.  However we continuously evaluate new categories and segments which are adjacent to our current range of products.

How do you position your products (in which price point and segments) and how do you promote the brand?

Anchor is a well-established and well known brand because of the electrical business heritage and is famous for offering great quality at affordable price point.  Anchor health and beauty follows the same ethos we are in the business of offering great products at great price point and operate in the value segment in the oral care and personal care space. Our value proposition is very strong as there is no compromise on quality.   

How do you take on the bigger and MNC FMCG brands?

Well, it is the million dollar question. Isn't it?

The Indian consumer, has historically been a value seeker and continue to be so. This is something that the bigger MNCs tend to miss out on. Anchor believes in providing its customers with the best quality at a reasonable price. Anchor might possibly have the best value proposition in the market at present. These two factors combined help us compete with much bigger MNC FMCG brands.

Each of our brands/products offer a USP which creates a brand/product resonance. We have the best formulated toothpastes in Anchor White, Red Gel and Clove. Our new soaps with the tri-active formula, destroys germs and keeps you fresh throughout your day. They also have the highest TFM value in the market. Our association with Dupont, which is one of the best bristle making brands in the world, has helped us to improve the overall quality of our toothbrushes.  Even though all these quality improvements are made, we stay true to our motto of providing our products at a reasonable price.

How many manufacturing facilities do you have at this point in time? Are you looking at more or ramping up capacities?

Capacity depends on the need. At present, we are having two large manufacturing units in Haridwar and Bhuj. Most of the manufacturing takes place in Haridwar. The manufacturing of toothpastes and toothbrushes is carried out solely in Haridwar, whereas soaps are manufactured both in Haridwar and Bhuj. As of now, the current facilities are sufficient to meet the demands.

How much of your revenue comes from exports now? Which countries? Are you looking at new geographies? How do you see your exports growing in the next 2/3 years?

We are primarily targeting the Middle East at the moment. Specifically the Indian Diaspora in the Middle East. We also plan to launch specific products in the GCC market in the near future. We have started tapping the South East Asian markets specifically Nepal, Bangladesh and Bhutan at present. Our aim is to have 5-7 per cent of our total income come through our exports in the coming years.

Tell me something about your campaign/brand building initiatives.

We started with a campaign “Beautiful First Impressions” for our most popular product, Dyna. Targeting young women belonging to 15-25 age groups, we decided to get the renowned Actor and youth icon Shraddha Kapoor as the brand ambassador of Dyna soap. We have changed the packaging of the product and introduced 6 variants which could suit most of the skin types. The purity of ingredients in the new variants of Dyna deliver remarkable nourishment to the skin, giving the confidence to make a great first impression. New Dyna is revamped and comes with trendy packaging, positioned for the youth who are making their own mark in life and thus Shraddha Kapoor was a natural choice for us. Shraddha embodies a similar beauty and confidence of youth, and reflects the essence of Dyna brand. We have also started promoting Dyna on social media, and with Shraddha on board, it is becoming quite easy for the youth to associate with it. As a brand we have always been consumer focused, looking at newer methods of delighting them through our product offerings, and we are sure that the current range of new Dyna will manage to create a great impression on the Indian consumer.

Ritwik Mukherjee