In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, there has been an increased consumer interest in Ayurvedic products that are believed to help boost immunity. According to a report by Nielsen, in March 2020, the demand for honey was up by 35%, for chyawanprash by 81%, and turmeric by 38% in modern trade stores.
The renewed interest in these products has partly been fuelled by the recommendations by the Ministry of Ayurveda, Yoga & Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy (AYUSH) to fight coronavirus. These specifically mention the usage of spices like turmeric and coriander for cooking, and advises people to consume chyawanprash.
A report by native advertising platform Taboola reveals that page view traffic to articles on ‘how to boost immunity’ has seen a spike in recent months. The Taboola Network recorded 5.6 million page views for stories related to boosting immunity, the health benefits of turmeric and recipes for immunity-boosting foods.
“There is one message that is being repeated everywhere, which is that there isn’t a cure yet for Covid-19, and it is better to boost your immunity to fight it. This has stayed with the consumer, and hence there is a widespread demand for these products,” says Ankur Bisen, senior vice president, retail and consumer, Technopak Advisors.
Keeping up with demand
FMCG companies that manufacture Ayurvedic products, the likes of Dabur India and The Himalaya Drug Company, are seeing an uptick in demand from across the country.
“We are now working towards ensuring uninterrupted supplies of Dabur Chyawanprash across markets and channels during the lockdown,” says Mukesh Mishra, marketing head – healthcare, Dabur India. The company says it is ensuring delivery of these products to consumers who are reaching out on social media.
The Himalaya Drug Company has increased its production capacity by employing more production lines and adding new facilities to meet the surge in demand.
“We are distributing stocks proportionally between trade houses and e-commerce platforms. We are also rationalising the stock, so that more people can avail the products,” says Philipe Haydon, CEO, The Himalaya Drug Company.
Ayurvedic capsules manufactured by these companies are also seeing many takers. Haydon says. Guduchi tablets, from the company’s Pure Herbs range, that augments immunity, have witnessed a three-fold increase in demand.
Dabur India, too, has reported a similar trend for its Stresscom (Ashwagandha) capsules and Giloy ki Ghanvati (Giloy tablets). The company is promoting its healthcare products on TV and digital media.
Honey is emerging as another hot-selling product. E-grocery firm Grofers claims to have witnessed a 38% increase in the sale of honey from April 14-20, as compared to the pre-Covid period of February 14-20.
Here to stay?
Is this rise in demand merely owing to the situation or could this have a long-term impact on the consumption of such products?
Kaustav Ganguli, MD, Alvarez & Marsal, says, “Reports suggest that there could be multiple phases of this outbreak and, going ahead, we might see more peaks. In such a scenario, consumer habits around how they manage their health will undergo a change. Therefore, the trend towards consumption of immunity-boosting products might stay for the long run.”
Pinakiranjan Mishra, partner and leader, consumer products and retail, EY, believes that for the demand to continue beyond the current circumstances, brands will have to constantly remind consumers about the need for these products. “They will have to keep communicating to consumers why it helps to have strong immunity and how their products help,” he adds.
Industry watchers predict new brands entering this segment, and the existing ones launching new products. “Going ahead the companies operating in this segment will try to launch new flavours and variants,” says Bisen of Technopak Advisors.
Keeping up with the rising demand will not be easy, Ganguli says, given the limited capacity in which the manufacturers are functioning. “They have been able to supply the products so far because retailers and distributors had stocks lying around. But, going ahead, supply could suffer as there is manpower shortage, as well as issues with the supply of raw materials and transportation,” he adds.