Who dares wins?

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Published: July 20, 2020 7:03 AM

Brands have unshackled their creativity with product launches to fight the pandemic

While some brands have launched sensible product extensions, the frenzied need to ‘protect’ consumers and, importantly, dredge up sales, has led to some corporates coming across as unhinged.While some brands have launched sensible product extensions, the frenzied need to ‘protect’ consumers and, importantly, dredge up sales, has led to some corporates coming across as unhinged.

Truth is, indeed, stranger than fiction.

With the ongoing pandemic and various stages of the lockdown upon us, there is no playbook on how a brand ought to behave or peddle its offering. Hence, companies are making their own rules. And, well, there are all sorts of products being churned out, largely pivoting around one theme: ‘protection from the virus and/ or boosting your immunity’.

That’s all fine and dandy when we’re talking of (now) essential categories like hand sanitisers and face masks (with ranges/ flavours/ colours/ fragrances/ what have you, for both). While some brands have launched sensible product extensions, the frenzied need to ‘protect’ consumers and, importantly, dredge up sales, has led to some corporates coming across as unhinged.

Anti-viral swag

Consider the following: last month, Mayur Suitings launched an anti-viral fabric range, ViroSecure, that boasts of “a protective coating to offer 99.99% protection against SARS-CoV-2 in just 30 minutes”. Ditto for Arvind Limited, which came out with its anti-viral range — of clothes, in case that didn’t sink in the first time — called Intellifabrix, which will be available across 8,000 retail stores in India soon. Birla Cellulose has introduced antimicrobial fibres to its Liva fashion range. Then there’s ZOD! Clubwear, which launched Securo, an anti-viral shirt (!) that claims to kill 99% of the Covid-19 virus.

It isn’t just shirts and blazers; Welspun recently came out with anti-viral products including terry towels, bed linens, rugs and carpets, along with reusable cloth masks, under its brands Spaces and Welspun Health.

“I’m not sure such products are sustainable post-Covid,” says Naresh Gupta, CSO, Bang In The Middle. “They are riding on the fear economy, and once the disease starts to ebb, the need will go away.” That is, provided they become habits in the first place, he adds. “Sanitisers, masks and immunity boosters, on the other hand, are flying off the shelves, and such functional categories will last even post-pandemic.”

Taste meets health?

Moving on to immunity boosters, Emami has launched its Emami Healthy & Tasty Smart Balance Immunity Booster Oil (take your time and read that again), which claims to be the first edible oil in India with a promise to enhance one’s immunity from within.

After Haldi milk, Amul unleashed its ready-to-drink Ginger Doodh (also being referred to as Ginger Latte on the packs) and Tulsi Doodh (Tulsi Latte) in June, with plans to launch Ashwagandha milk and Honey milk soon. And they come in these rather chic looking, take-a-swig cans. Cola drinks, you aren’t the only cool kids on the block anymore; unless you launch a Haldi cola version.

To tickle your palate, Karnataka-based Dairy Day Ice Creams launched two new flavours — Haldi and Chyawanprash, priced 30% higher than average ice-creams. One can totally imagine a scoop of this being determinedly consumed after an intense workout at home. Bye, protein shakes.

Are these mere attempts by brands to stay relevant? A fad, latching on to the consumer’s paranoia of catching the virus? Or could there really be a market for these? “General health products will continue to have relevance; health and wellness are among the fastest growing segments in the world,” says Samit Sinha, founder and managing partner, Alchemist Brand Consulting. “In categories like apparel, it is hard to make a health connection, unless it has to do with personal protective equipment (PPE) kits.”

We’ll leave you with two more gems. Kolkata sweet shop franchise Balaram Mullick & Radharaman Mullick have created herb-infused ‘Immunity Sandesh’ to battle Covid-19. And beyond Indian shores, a Romanian shoemaker who, having made long footwear for actors in the past, has put his skills to use to make ginormous social distancing shoes.

What’s next? A virus-resistant nail paint that helps you ‘claw’ your way back into health and vitality? Let’s not rule it out yet.

Read Also: Broadcasters led OTT platforms bets big on original content

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