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After oral care, GSK's attention now shifts to OTC products

The company is extending its popular antacid Eno into tablets and liquids

Viveat Susan Pinto  |  Mumbai 

The consumer arm of British pharma major GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) is extending its popular antacid Eno, used to cure acidity and other gastric issues, into tablets and liquids in a bid to take on rivals such as Digene from Abbott and Gelusil from Pfizer.

The 75-year-old Eno is currently available only in powder format.

The move to extend Eno, which is the leader in the Rs 800-crore antacid market in India with a share of 41%, comes at a time when GlaxoSmithKline Consumer has been devoting greater attention to its health and wellness portfolio including brands such as Iodex, a pain reliever, and Crocin, an antibiotic.

On Crocin, for instance, the company has variants such as Crocin Cold & Flu and a range of liquids targeted at kids besides the regular tablets. The endeavour, company executives say, is to address specific consumer needs, as the company eyes growth from these categories.

The strategy of extending its over-the-counter (OTC) brands , say analysts, is also partly linked to GSK's need to bring down its dependence on flagship Horlicks, a malted beverage, which gives the Rs 3,187-crore company nearly half its revenues.

The company's thrust on oral care since 2011, for instance, is part of this strategy to grow its base of consumers through new product categories. GSK's Sensodyne today is an over Rs 100-crore brand in a span of two-and-a-half years since launch. Its launch prompted Colgate to react pushing up the sensitivity market, which today constitutes nearly 10% of the Rs 6,000-crore toothpaste market in India.

In antacids, GSK has managed to accelerate Eno's pace of growth from high single-digits (7 to 9%) to over 30% in a span of two years on the back of new packaging and product innovation.

"In the last two years we have introduced two new flavours within Eno targeting those people who seek home remedies when afflicted with acidity. The flavours were launched after careful research to understand what consumers wanted. Now we are taking Eno into tablets and liquids, again an area we needed to address," says Jayant Singh, executive vice-president, marketing, GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare.

While 45% of the antacid market is made up of powders, the balance 55% is liquids and tablets. Singh admits these were formats the company simply couldn't ignore. "We play in one half of the market. The other half is unrepresented. We now plug that gap," he says.

The liquid antacid segment is dominated by Pfizer's Gelusil, while Digene calls the shots in tablets.

GSK has priced its tablets and liquids in line with competition. For instance, a pack of six Eno tablets will be available for Rs 8 and a 170-ml bottle of the brand will come for Rs 68. Eno single-use powder sachets are available for Rs 6 in the marketplace.

GSK, Singh says, will begin marketing of the new Eno formats in a month from now. The company is currently placing the products in retail outlets across the country.

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First Published: Wed, July 03 2013. 19:28 IST