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Hindustan Unilever losing market share in skin-cleansing category

Parent Unilever, at the Consumer Analyst Group of New York (CAGNY) conference in Florida last month, acknowledged that penetration for the top two skin cleansing brands in India has been down

, ET Bureau|
Last Updated: Mar 13, 2020, 08.12 AM IST
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For HUL, soaps business accounts for roughly a quarter of its annual sales.
Mumbai: Hindustan Unilever, the country's biggest consumer goods firm, lost over 340 basis points in skin cleansing category over the past two years dragged by sharp decline in two of its largest brands— Lux and Lifebuoy — that together accounts for a quarter of the market.

HUL, the largest soaps maker, has seen its market share fall from 42.3% in the year ended December 2017 to 38.9% last calendar year, according to industry officials quoting Nielsen data. In the ₹22,000 crore soap segment that is roughly ₹800 crore eroded in a market which is increasingly getting competitive. To be sure, HUL controlled more than half the soap market a decade ago, has seen consistent share loss in the segment but the latest decline has been the steepest.

HUL Losing Market Share in Skin-cleansing Category

Parent Unilever, at the Consumer Analyst Group of New York (CAGNY) conference in Florida last month, acknowledged that penetration for the top two skin cleansing brands in India has been down.

“As a result, we have seen declining sales and share losses in 2019. We have made specific interventions on price and product quality and we are becoming sharper on our brand messaging and, believe me, this will make all the difference,” Unilever’s chief financial officer Graeme Pitkethly told investors.

A HUL spokesperson said it does not comment on market shares while Nielsen said it does not verify or validate company, brand-related data or market share owing to client confidentiality policies in place.
Lux and Lifebuoy put together saw their value market share fall 390 basis points since 2017, while rivals such as Godrej Consumer Products and Reckitt Benckiser gained. While the value share was partly down due to price reductions in the range of 4% to 6% in Lux and Lifebuoy portfolio in July last year, both these brands also lost 350 bps in volume market share, indicating the erosion is largely led by slowing consumer demand for these brands.

For HUL, soaps business accounts for roughly a quarter of its annual sales.
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