Once dubbed the DNA of Paras Pharmaceuticals, which was sold for Rs 3,260 crore to Reckitt Benckiser in 2010, 51-year-old Darshan Patel, now the promoter of Vini Cosmetics, has his finger on the pulse of the consumer. Paras was divided up in 2012, when Marico acquired its personal care portfolio from Reckitt for Rs 600 crore in February, 2012. It included Setwet, Livon and Zatak. The healthcare portfolio with brands such Moov, Krack cream and D'Cold remained with Reckitt.
But Patel's new deodorant brand, Fogg, has emerged as a strong contender in the nearly Rs 2,000-crore category, two years after launch, giving Hindustan Unilever's (HUL) Axe a run for its money. Industry estimates put Fogg's all-India value share at around 11.9 per cent (range for men and women). While it is runner-up in men's deodorants (Axe leads), it is placed third in women's deos, having beaten CavinKare's Spinz. HUL has around 10.4 per cent in the overall deo market, but that is from Axe, which plays only in men's deodorants. Market experts say that consumers, especially in modern trade, have been reaching for the newcomer over its more established rivals.
Patel had built the deo brand Zatak under Paras Pharma, which was one of the fastest-growing brands at the time of its sale. But it seems his uncanny knack for creating personal care brands remained intact. He billed Fogg as a product that is high on fragrance with no amount of gas (used in deodorant spray bottles). It meant that the product would not vapourise easily and linger when sprayed on - overall a value for money proposition.
Fogg advertises that it can deliver 800 sprays for an average 100-gm bottle at a price of Rs 180. Rivals, Patel says, are marginally lower (at 5-10 per cent) than Fogg's price, but deliver far less number of sprays. That is the catch, he points out.
In October, 2013, according to market estimates, Fogg Women accounted for 10.2 per cent of the Rs 520-crore womens deo market, while Fogg Men accounted for 12.6 per cent of the Rs 1,263-crore men's deo market.
Santosh Desai, managing director and chief executive officer, Future Brands, says, "The deodorant market has seen an explosion of products in the last few years. What Fogg has managed to do is set a new equilibrium with its unique selling proposition. It would be interesting to see how rivals respond to this. But there is no denying that Fogg has cleverly managed to tap into the needs of the consumer. In a category such as deodorants, it is those with a differentiated offering, which will eventually stand out."
Not just need gaps, Patel has also carried over his speed of delivery fro Paras Pharma to his new brand. When the personal care division of the Ahmedabad-based company was sold to Marico in 2012, Paras already had 80 per cent of Marico's much-entrenched distribution footprint in common.
Patel says that Fogg reaches 500,000 stores and the plan is to touch another 500,000 counters in the next two years. "We raised money a few months ago with this objective in mind," Patel says.
Private equity investor Sequoia Capital picked up a 9-per-cent stake in Vini for about Rs 100 crore in August, 2013, valuing the firm at over Rs 1,100 crore or nearly six times sales. Vini closed 2012-13 with net sales of Rs 170 crore. Patel says that he hopes to touch Rs 200 crore in sales in 2013-14. And given the pace at which Fogg is growing, he says his firm should be able to touch this number by the end of this financial year (market data of November, 2012-October, 2013, already puts Fogg over Rs 200 crore). "Fogg is already a Rs 150-crore brand," Patel says.
The balance in terms of turnover is contributed by products such as 18+, another deodorant range, White Tone and Jinjola, which are talcs, and Glam-up and Seven X, which are creams.
Patel says that he will be launching more products in skincare and haircare in the next few months. "Expansion of our range of products is on the cards. In skincare, of course, since most of our products are in that area. Haircare will be a new segment for us, but we are looking at some interesting concepts here," he adds.
Patel, along with his brothers Girish and Devendra, was the brain behind products such as Setwet, Zatak, Moov, Ringguard, Itchguard, Krack, Dermicool, Livon and D'Cold, all category-busters, at Paras. He quit Paras in 2006 and formed Vini in 2010. Devendra Patel too has forged out on his own and launched the deo range called Layer'r.