Sebamed aims to grow 10-folds in next five years, to expand distribution network

·4-min read

New Delhi, Jan 26 (PTI) German personal care brand Sebamed aims to ambitiously grow 10 times in the next five years, according to a top company official.

The company, which had recently tried to disrupt the FMCG market with its comparative advertisements claiming higher pH in the beauty soaps of the market leader HUL, is investing in brand building and also to pace up its distribution network across channels to reach 100 cities by the end of this year. “Based on the portfolio run rate in MRP terms, our revenue is Rs 400 crore per year and we have the vision to grow 10X in the next five years,” Sebamed India country head Shashi Ranjan told PTI.

The company has grown five times in the last three years and is on track to achieve the target, he added.

Sebamed, which operates in baby care and personal care in the Indian market, had earlier operated in India through the prescription-based sales from doctors and dermatologists and in 2018, it started FMCG sales through traditional channels.

When asked about the ad, in which Sebamed had compared with the HUL beauty soaps, he said the entire strategy revolved around helping a customer to empower and educate them to make the right choice while making a purchase.

”We have followed the law of the land and we believe that it was a right approach to make them aware about the skin type and standard,” said Ranjan.

According to the company, it was a part of thoughtful marketing plans and strategy and comparison of pH was just one step in that.

“There are multiple steps as we go along. One is making people aware of something called pH, which needs to be considered when they talk about personal care and the second is educating the customer about the benefit and the third part is customers try these products,” he added.

The company claimed to have a loyal customer base with a repeat purchase.

“We are also ramping our distribution at a rapid pace. We are at 47 cities and going to be at 100 cities by the end of this year,' Ranjan added.

Sebamed had embroiled in an ad war with HUL after the German skincare firm had claimed that HUL beauty soaps Dove, Lux and Pears, had higher pH, which harmed sensitive skin.

In the advertisement, Sebamed had compared Lux and Pears with Rin, a detergent bar, and had implied Dove was an inferior product due to being pH neutral.

After this HUL dragged Sebamed to Bombay High Court, which on January 11, passing an interim order restrained the company from the ad. Later, a division bench of the High Court allowed the comparative ads naming HUL’s soap brands Dove, Pears and Lux after being backed by scientific data. However, it asked to remove detergent brand Rin reference from campaigns.

The ad was based on the make and believe concept and the best way to educate the customer was visual facts based demonstration and that was taken up. “We believe that the procedure which we have followed is the right approach, keeping customers at the core and make them aware about basic skin types,” he said, adding that 'As an organisation, I believe that it is our obligation to educate the customers about the right information, about hinds back information about skin.” Claiming to be overdue, Ranjan said it is the right time for customers to know about the standard for skin and products, which are good for the skin.

“We would continue to empower the customers so that they can make choices. As an organisation, we would continue to invest, remain committed to investing in brand building, rapid distribution expansion and third is on people,” he added.

The company, like other FMCG firms, had also witnessed a spike in its sales from e-commerce channels in the first six months after COVID-19-related lockdown, is getting stabilised now and is contributing around one-third of the business.

“As we move along and expand our reach in the general trade, it would further go down,” he added.

The company imports its entire portfolio sold in India from Germany to maintain the standards and quality, Ranjan said. PTI KRH RKL MR MR