Cosmetics maker Avon will step up focus on essentials such as sanitizers and masks, the company’s recently appointed managing director Jayant Kapre told ET. “We have already seen a strong improvement in our share of essential products; there will be more launches in these categories in the days to come,” Kapre, who was recently named head of the India unit of Avon, said.

Sales of cosmetics and make-up have taken a big hit with the lockdown resulting in women not stepping out for work, which is expected to continue for a couple of months even with curbs being eased. The Indian government announced a nationwide lockdown starting March 25 to contain the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Success will be dependent on direct selling companies adapting product offerings sharply to new consumer needs such as sanitizers, masks and face creams that have a larger salience than earlier,” Kapre, previously with Unilever, United Biscuits and Britannia, said.

While its traditional business model has been direct selling, Avon is working on synergising itself with e-commerce in line with rapidly changing consumer buying preferences. “We are derisking our business using technology along with our existing selling model,” Kapre said.

Avon Products Inc is owned by Brazilian cosmetics and personal care group Natura & Co. The diversified group also owns The Body Shop and Aesop. In a post earnings call last month, Natura & Co chairman Roberto Marques said the company’s representatives are rapidly switching to digital platforms. “At Avon International, representatives increased adoption of digital assets from a very low-single-digit in 2019 to over 37% in recent weeks,” Marques told analysts. He added that e-commerce sales grew “exponentially in the past few weeks as a reaction to the lockdown and are up almost 250% at group level.”