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Himalaya introduces new baby care products

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(From right) Mr Ravi Prasad, President & CEO, Himalaya Drug Company; Dr S.K. Mitra, Executive Director Research and Technical Services; and Mr Soumitro Banerji, Business Head, Personal Care Division, at the launch of new products in Bangalore on Tuesday. -- G.R.N. Somashekar

Bangalore , Nov. 9

HIMALAYA Drug Company has launched a range of baby care products.

Himalaya's Personal Care Division unveiled seven new products to match the market leader Johnson & Johnson product to product, from soap, powder and lotion to shampoo and massage oil. Himalaya has added baby diaper rash cream as a first of its category.

It has chosen to play the new products up on an OTC-cum-prescriptive plank, more for their therapeutic benefits than for the cosmetic value alone, by keeping doctors and paediatricians as an integral part of market influence.

Mr Ravi Prasad, President & CEO, told a news conference that a two-phased promotional, low-key campaign would be unveiled starting with an experiential push for new parents from November 14 up to March next year. A multi-media campaign would follow in April. The plan was to immediately catch a targeted 10,000 parents through paediatric clinics, maternity homes and posters, and also the company's 70-odd exclusive and 500 shop-in-shop outlets across the country.

The baby range would be launched soon in Europe and West Asia where the brand has a good presence, and its newer markets in South East Asia.

The Himalaya stable already has two baby brands — Bonisan and Gripe Water.

Mr Soumitro Banerjee, Business Head, Personal Care Division, said Himalaya expected to win 5 per cent or a Rs 7.5-crore worth of market share in the baby segment during the first year of launch. Himalaya, he said, was entering a market tough in terms of a dominant player with 70 per cent share and also in terms of demanding and proactive parents. This was why it was positioning the baby range at educated, informed, small families with `new-age parents' from A-class and big cities. The new baby range, according to Mr Banerjee, would contribute 10 per cent of the turnover of the Personal Care, which expected to touch sales of Rs 70 crore during the current fiscal. The division has been doing well since the makeover of its products in skin, hair and oral care yielding 25, 15 and 20 per cent respectively of the division's turnover.

The baby range was also a seven-year effort and an unusual challenge in terms of R&D as it meant extra safety on young skin, according to Dr S.K. Mitra, Executive Director, Research & Technical Services. For the first time, cell line tissues were developed and simulated for baby skin to test for toxicity that could not be done on animals.

In the first phase of clinical trials supervised by mothers and paediatricians, the products were tested on 500 children at Calcutta Medical College; Post Graduate Institute, Chandigarh, and Apollo Hospitals, Chennai. The second phase for 500 more children was on at CMC Vellore, Banaras Hindu University and Mahatma Gandhi Medical College Hospital, Ahmedabad, and would be completed by January 2005.

Mr Ravi Prasad said Himalaya was looking set to reach 2004-05 sales turnover of Rs 400 crore. Exports, a rapidly growing segment, would form 15 per cent of the revenue.

Himalaya will enter the Singapore market, marked as its East Asian hub, later this month.

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