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Despite being essential, refrained from pandemic profiteering: Pee Safe's Pragya Upadhyay

Upadhyay also spoke about what’s in the pipeline for Pee Safe

Pragya Upadhyay

NEW DELHI: The growing demand for wellness and health products with the rising rate of Covid2019 has increased the demand for hand sanitisers. The size of the category touched Rs 43 crore in March from Rs 10 crore a year ago, according to Nielsen India, as the highly contagious pathogen spread rapidly despite the world’s strictest lockdown. Many brands also decided to venture into this space.

Pee Safe has disrupted the women’s hygiene products’ segment by introducing products such as reusable and biodegradable sanitary pads, menstrual cups, intimate washes and a period cramp roll-on amongst others. The brand started with the Toilet Seat Sanitiser category that became a bestseller followed by other products addressing feminine and personal hygiene. Pee Safe recently raised Rs 30 crore in Series A funding led by Alkemi Growth Capital, a health and wellness-focused fund.

In a conversation with Indiantelevision.com, Pee Safe vice president-growth Pragya Upadhyay spoke about how the personal hygiene market has witnessed a significant growth during the pandemic.

Edited excerpts:

With so many players in the sanitizer market, how are you staying afloat?

The demand for hand sanitisers and hygiene products has increased manifold since the pandemic outbreak. Whenever there is a massive surge in demand, it is normal to see a large number of players enter the market or expand their product portfolios. However, there is ample opportunity for both existing and future players in this segment today. Considering the size of the Indian market, it is beyond the capacity of a handful of brands to effectively fulfil the demand. New players entering the market will be helpful in further expansion and it will benefit all the players in the long run. 

Pee Safe is India’s leading hygiene and wellness brand and we have been advocating the cause of personal hygiene since 2013. Over the years, we have created market leadership in various product segments and have goodwill and trust among consumers. We started with the Toilet Seat Sanitizer Spray and have diversified into products for both men and women including biodegradable sanitary pads, menstrual cups, a period pain roll-on, undergarment sanitizer, intimate wash, masks etc. 

We recently introduced our Raho Safe range of products, which includes a hand-wash, alcohol-based sanitiser, face shield and surface disinfectant. Going forward, we plan to come up with various other products in hygiene and wellness category.

What kind of impact did Pee Safe see due to the pandemic?

Pee Safe products belong to the essential category as personal hygiene and sanitation are at the core of the strategies to fight Covid2019. Right from the start of the current crisis, we have been witnessing higher demand from our customers. The lockdown had temporarily hampered operations as our supply chains were disrupted and we had to shut down our warehouse. We stopped online product sales as order fulfilment had become increasingly difficult. However, without losing hope, we resumed limited operations after a while and have been gradually focusing on revamping our supply chains and product availability to as many consumers as possible. 

During the lockdown, we catered exclusively to the B2B clients, but now our e-commerce operations have resumed and products are being shipped to most parts of India. It is not possible to quantify in terms of percentage at present, but the demand spike has been high.

Tell us about Raho Safe. What is your marketing strategy for the same?

Raho Safe was launched earlier this year before the pandemic spread across India. It is a high-quality and affordable range of hand sanitisers, surface protectant spray, face shield, hand-wash and a washable anti-dust mask that offers protection to people against bacteria.

Our marketing strategy revolves around digital communication, especially in the current scenario. We are focusing on using our digital outreach to connect with consumers all over the country. The aim is to spread awareness about the importance of sanitisation alongside educating them about how our products help them. This digital marketing approach has served us well so far and we continue doing so for Raho Safe products as well.

What are the marketing initiatives taken by Pee Safe so far?

Our marketing activities are guided by the mantra of ‘keeping things simple.’ Our products are essential and the demand has risen exponentially. Yet, we have refrained from profiteering during the current crisis. In our journey so far, we have received several proposals to sponsor shows or to get our brand placement in breaking news segments instead of air time. However, we have steadily declined any such offers.

Pee Safe has been built on the ‘word of mouth’ recommendations and the positive feedback from our existing customers. We don’t believe in negatively using our brand goodwill. Right from the outset, our focus has been on the awareness campaigns related to Covid20119 pandemic and on sharing valuable information through our social media accounts on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook etc.

What is the role of digital marketing in the time of Covid2019?

Digital marketing is the enabler of business activities in the Covid2019 era. Due to social distancing and personal concerns, the conventional marketing activities have been curtailed and people are resorting to digital communication even for informal messaging. Moreover, everyone is spending very little time outdoors and the average screen time has multiplied across the digital platforms. In this changed scenario, the brands that harness digital marketing means are reaching out to maximum customers. With the resumption to pre-Covid2019 levels of activity unlikely anytime soon, the role of digital marketing will only become more strategic.

Is content marketing the new strategy during a pandemic?

Content marketing is the backbone of digital marketing initiatives. It has a dual role to play in the current scenario. On the one hand, content marketing channels like blogs, websites, emails and social media posts have to spread awareness related to the problem and its possible solutions. On the other hand, they must make people aware of the products that are available in the market and how they can buy them easily. We have constantly relied on the content marketing process and created a strong brand position through organic recommendations by our customers on social media platforms. While the content marketing channel had already become essential to an organization’s marketing strategies before the pandemic, now it will become the most impactful tool for marketers.

How are the marketing strategies of the hygiene industry different from others?

One of the challenges that the hygiene industry players had faced before the outbreak was a very limited awareness especially with regard to personal hygiene. Marketers thus struggled to raise awareness by educating the audience about the perils of unhygienic living alongside promoting the products. The ongoing pandemic has inadvertently driven up the awareness factor tremendously. Within a few months, hand sanitisers, which were considered as a niche product, have now become an essential item of mass consumption. While awareness has reached desirable levels in metro city areas, we continue to educate the public in smaller cities and rural areas about the need for hygiene.

Have you witnessed any growth since the outbreak? Can you shed some light on that?   

Pee Safe had already been registering impressive year-on-year growth before the pandemic. There is now a further increase in demand and growth from the overall market perspective. Until the start of this year, the Indian sanitizer industry was estimated to be in the range of Rs 40 to 60 crore. The demand from the general public was negligible. However, hand hygiene has been recommended as a major component of protection against the viral pandemic. This has led to a sharp demand spike. We believe that this trend will continue even after the situation normalizes and it is expected that the hand sanitizer market will grow beyond $2 billion by the year 2025. 

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