"We are driven by innovation and consumer centric approach":Neetal Narang

In an exclusive conversation with Neetal Narang, President - Communications & Corporate Affairs aquawhite
What is your take on current Oral care market in India? It would be great if you can highlight few numbers to quantify the same. Also shed light on tentative market share of aquawhite?
The current oral care industry is pegged around 12,000 crores and unlike many countries it is still pegged to grow. This growth will specifically come from slow bit steady increase in the penetration of toothbrush and toothpaste usage. There is definitely huge potential in this category because if compare the global trends, the average usage of toothbrush in Indian market was about 15 months a decade ago which has come down to less than 9 months now. However, internationally the average has been 45 days. While China has improved and has come down to 3 months usage. Other oral care products like mouthwash still have larger growth opportunity. Currently the adult range of aquawhite™ has its pre dominance in North India with 3% share in toothbrush segment.
Kindly shed light on your current distribution in online and offline space. Going forward what would be your strategies to scale up the distribution?
aquawhite™ is currently available in the Indian market through its adult range and has some good traction in states of Rajasthan, Punjab, Delhi and Maharashtra. We also maintain optimum availability though online channels, foremost being our website www.aquawhite.com. AquaWhite.com - Get That Great Smile You've Always Wanted
aquawhite.com, www.aquawhite.com, , portals like firstcry, amazon, flipkart, PayTM etc.
Our Kids range of aquawhite™ is been planned to launch in phases through a sales strategy targeting premium consumers. Initial thrust is on Delhi NCR market and our kids range has been very well accepted at leading Big Bazaar outlets in Delhi.
Moving forward we intend to invest in our newly launched character driven innovative Kids range. We would like to create distribution benchmarks through the Modern Trade channel and build our success through Class A outlets in Top Cities around the country.
Kindly shed light on your brand licensing agreements. Also shed light how such activities help attaining better traction?  
We currently have a strong association with the characters which are very popular amongst kids like Chhota Bheem, Shiva, Spongebob SquarePants, Shimmer & Shine, The Jungle Book, Pokemon,
These are long term associations and they definitely provide us a strong platform to engage and connect with our primary TG, the Kids.
Kindly shed light on product and categories. Also how would you be looking expand your licensed product category?
JHS Svendgaard has been a leading and steady player in the licensed product for some time. We intend to enhance our presence through extended association with new partners. Besides the oral-care category, there is a huge potential is gifting category. We have been able to do innovative product development to position and capture the ever evolving Birthday Return Gifts category.
What are the operational challenges in the category like yours?
Innovation is what drives this category and infact innovation built with concept driven toothbrush & toothpaste will definitely drive the consumers. We are on a never ending journey of challenging ourselves to keep coming up with great and new innovations mapped to consumer needs.
Kindly highlight your growth plans?
We are driven by innovation and consumer centric approach. We want to consistently stay true to that and we believe that will be a strong reason for the consumers to accept us and thereby creating a dent in a market led by stalwarts
How has the consumer behavior changed over the years in your segment?
Not just in one particular segment but as a natural progression we all evolve thus bringing in changes in each facet of a human life, be in behavior, pattern, lifestyle. Related to our category, please refer 1st question for our response.
What made you think about licensing as an effective retail strategy? 
It’s all about bringing in constant innovation and the best way to connect to a kid is through a language they understand. We strongly felt that kids find instant connect with the characters they grow up watching. This led us to strategize our entire business model to a category which has a wide gap in terms of innovations and concepts for kids. While we brought a 2 minute concept into tooth brushing through our products (like a 2 minute auto off flash, 2 minutes singing toothbrush, 2 minute sand timer etc) we also introduced fluoride free toothpaste and built all of this in various characters making it very attractive and appealing to kids.
What were the challenges that you faced while coming up with licensed product range for various brands? How did you address those challenges?
One face challenges whenever one tries to do something new and we were no different. We had a beautiful story in our mind to create an amazing character driven product range which we could forsee being into the manufacturing business s for over 2 and a half decade. To bring our story to reality through our experience, we had to consciously make a shortlist of the characters post which we had to go through round of discussions with the licensors explaining them the product cycle, huge development costs, time and effort that would go into creating concepts around characters.
While we sought for exclusivity we also wanted the character for a longer duration since there would be huge investments of money and time in making innovative products.
How much of the total revenue is driven by licensed merchandise? 
We are in the process of developing merchandise with our licensees.
Neetal Narang