Home/ Interviews/ The OTC segment and online sales platforms will be the key areas: Abha Damani, Director, ICPA Health Products Ltd.
The OTC segment and online sales platforms will be the key areas: Abha Damani, Director, ICPA Health Products Ltd.
Since the advent of the pandemic, the oral hygiene care segment has been witnessing a surge in traction. The pharma companies in this segment are expanding their oral care portfolios, as consumers continue to have concerns and fears about the coronavirus.
There has been a significant increase in the number of oral-related medical problems in recent years. According to the WHO, oral diseases are the fourth most expensive to treat in developing countries. Meanwhile, the outbreak of the pandemic has also increased the need for oral care. Because the virus that causes COVID-19 spreads primarily through droplets of saliva or through the discharge from the nose.
Medical research also shows that simple oral hygiene measures could help lower the risk of the transmission of the novel coronavirus from the mouth to the lungs and could therefore help to prevent the severe instances of COVID-19.
“There is emerging evidence that specific ingredients of some inexpensive and widely available mouthwash products are highly effective at inactivating the SARS-CoV-2 virus, that causes COVID-19,” states the research published in the Journal of Oral Medicine and Dental Research.
As a result, among all personal care products, oral care, second only to hand wash products, saw a significant sales growth during the COVID-19 pandemic. Sales growth in 2020 was aided further by sector innovation. Furthermore, the rising spending on oral care is paving the way for the oral care market to expand.
During this period, after realising the growth potential of this sector, ICPA Health Products, a 50-year-old pharma company in the oral healthcare segment, has been scaling up its presence. It has also been clocking significant growth with its recognised brands such as Hexidine and Thermoseal in the prescription-based oral care segment. “We are India’s second largest company in the dental segment, and we rank amongst the top 100 pharma companies in India. From here, we are looking at consolidating our business and ramping up our production to meet the growing needs of the markets in the country and abroad,” says Abha Damani, Director at ICPA Health Products Ltd.
In a conversation with SME Futures, Abha Damani talks about ICPA’s growing portfolio, the various trends in the market, the rise in the awareness about oral hygiene, and how her brand is transforming with them laterally.
Could you please shed some light on the size of the prescription-based oral care market in India? What percentage of market share does ICPA contribute?
The total prescription-based oral care market in India is a little over Rs 1,000 crores and ICPA Health Products’ Pvt Ltd (ICPA) has a market share of approximately 16 per cent in the segment.
What trends or shifts have you noticed in the market since COVID-19, and how is ICPA responding to them?
The COVID19 pandemic mandated physical distancing and doctors had to adapt to tele-consulting. We, at ICPA too, enhanced the role of digital in pharma selling and strengthened our digital infrastructure accordingly. We now regularly communicate with doctors and dentists across the country with the help of digital platforms and this has helped us connect with them, which through traditional methods would have been difficult or in many cases, impossible.
ICPA has increased its offerings in oral hygiene, especially mouthwashes. We have been promoting our mouthwashes for anti-viral and anti-bacterial treatments. The consciousness of the need for these products has increased during COVID-19 times. We are also exploring the scope for new products and have accelerated our marketing efforts in the disinfectant segment for hospitals and other medical institutions.
What has been the business scenario for ICPA during this time period, and what is the current outlook?
COVID-19 has introduced the world to some new normals and the business scenario for us too is experiencing its new normal. Areas like distribution have become our central focus which was not the case earlier. New segments like disinfectants and mouthwashes have opened up and it’s most likely to continue in the near future.
Speaking on ICPA’s business performance, in FY 2020-21 ICPA registered a domestic sales revenue of Rs 111 crores. The pandemic led lockdown didn’t have much impact on the company’s revenues. In fact, we witnessed a marginal increase as the company’s Hexidine mouthwash registered higher sales during the pandemic.
What kind of traction are you getting offline vs. online, and what is working for you?
Our online platforms are actually augmenting our offline presence. During the lockdowns, our online channels, both for doctors and general consumers, had taken the lead when physical meetings with the doctors was restrained. Both the online and offline platforms are complementary for us, and they work synergistically.
ICPA has been a trailblazer in the introduction of new oral health care products over the years. What kinds of innovations are happening in this category, and do you have any new products or innovations in the pipeline?
We recently launched ICPAMOX – CV 625, which is meant to treat odontogenic infections. The product is an antibiotic with a broad-spectrum activity against the commonly occurring bacterial pathogens in the oral cavity and other parts of the body. The antibiotic is recommended for use along with dental treatments like root canals, tooth extractions and various oral surgeries to reduce post-operative infections.
Our latest offering is a denture management kit called the Replay Kit, for the elderly. The kit consists of a complete denture hygiene and maintenance routine including a denture storage container, the Fixon adhesive cream, the Clinsodent cleanser and the Clinsodent brush. Realizing the unique problems encountered by denture users, ICPA has introduced the kit for easy-to-use, everyday denture management.
Can you elaborate further on your expansion plans, including which new markets you intend to target?
Geographically, we have a significant presence in Africa and the Middle East, where we shall be strengthening our current presence by investing in marketing and distribution. At the same time, we are also looking to accelerate our presence in Europe and Australia where we have gained a foothold, and we are looking forward to both being good contributors to our total exports.
The product mix designed for the export market is specific to the need of each market and its traits. Hence, we have many products that we export which however are currently not available in the domestic market.
What kind of competition do you anticipate, and what will be your go-to-market strategy?
We have seen market dynamics change with regards to oral hygiene products which were under prescriptions. The advent of Sensodyne has changed the way that products are now marketed. The evolution of the OTC segment where more key players are likely to enter and fragment the market is the kind of competition we are expecting in the coming days. At the same time, the generic segment, to some extent, will also impact the market on the pricing front.
Going down the line, what’s the roadmap for ICPA?
We will maintain our position in the oral hygiene segment and being one of the key players, the new product innovations based on dentists’ needs, will be our core strategy to further grow in this vertical. Secondly, we intend to expand our product basket for dermatologists and ENT doctors where our moisturisers and other herbal products are popular. The OTC segment and online sales platforms will be the key areas where we see significant investment happening from our side in terms of developing technology and resources.
Besides that, we are looking to expand our market presence in the FMCG segment too. We have an array of products like perfumes, sanitisers, hand washes, disinfectants and soaps, among others which we plan to market through e-tailing. We have been growing at over a 15 per cent growth rate over the last decade. We anticipate a growth rate of around 25 per cent to become a Rs 200-crore company over the next 5 years.