How Dabur is riding the new normal

Some analysts caution that this kind of demand may not be sustainable in the long term, but Malhotra is confident. He argues that the penetration of health supplements in India is still very low; the nutraceuticals penetration is less than 10%, compared to around 80% in developed countries. “There is a lot of headroom for growth; we aren’t even scratching the surface yet,” he says. He believes healthcare demand will continue to surge for at least a year or two, and a protracted pandemic will mean that people will form new habits for preventive health products.

Some experts agree that Dabur will continue to benefit from Covid-19. Kavil Ramachandran, professor and executive director, Thomas Schmidheiny Centre for Family Enterprise, Indian School of Business, says, “several of the growth segments are likely to remain the same due to the basic switch of consumers while several others will switch partially”.

Not just Dabur, other companies are flourishing too. Kapiva, a four-year-old ayurvedic products firm funded by Fireside Ventures, the Mohandas Pai family office, and the Marico family office, says its overall business doubled during the pandemic, while its immunity portfolio grew even faster. Along with that, as disposable incomes rise, people will spend more on wellness, says the co-founder of Kapiva, Shrey Badhani. “I think concerns around wellness, spending on wellness, and preventive medicines will continue to rise as people become more aware, and environmental concerns amplify these trends,” he says.

As Malhotra puts it, the changes necessitated by the pandemic are here to stay. “For us, Covid was an inflection point. It ushered in change in the organisation,” he says. For instance, Dabur has stopped setting annual targets for employees to push fearless innovation, and removed the limit of a minimum three years to qualify for promotion. It has also started hiring from top-tier B-schools, like the Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad. “This change in culture, in the way we operate, in the mindset of the company… it will endure over a period of time,” says Malhotra.

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