If we consider one group of items that turned out to be champions of the COVID era, it would be home and personal grooming. Mass germophobia has contributed to the recognition and acceptance of items such as hand sanitizers and disinfectants in Indian households through geography. This mass acceptance has converted a niche product like a hand sanitizer into a mass consumer staple.
There is a deep dive into the hand sanitizer segment to discover how it’s developed over the past few (COVID) months. Before the COVID period, sugar producers were already manufacturing ethanol (or ethyl alcohol) in their fuel and pharmaceutical distilleries, as well as in alcohol bottling plants. They were not expected to invest in new manufacturing facilities. Soon after (in April), sugar-producing regions such as Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh registered sanitizers in large quantities and had to search for markets outside India.
While the segment has expanded substantially, owing to the vast number of entrants in the category as well as price volatility, it is difficult to position a pin on the growth figures. Priti A Sureka, director, Emami, points out that the pre-COVID sanitizer market was considered a specialty, with a turnover of about Rs 100 crore.
In terms of volume, the total intake of sanitizers is 5.5 million liters, a 10-fold rise relative to last year. Typically, the segment rises at a rate of 10-15%.
The total market valuation (projected) can also increase if the players wish to return to the original prices, which were considerably higher than the capped price, he says. The price-sensitive mass market and low production costs have made the players decide to keep prices low. This leaves no room for competing local/regional players and ultimately pushes lesser-known names out of the market.
Speaking about the effects of buying decisions, Rajeev John, VP Marketing, Dabur India, says that germ-kill properties and fragrance are the main considerations. Consumers want good products which smell good, and which are not drug-free.The use of herbal ingredients – Neem and Tulsi, as well as moisturizing ingredients – is a big appeal for the BoroPlus hand sanitizer.
Consumption is skewed in favor of urban markets, says Godrej’s Mishra. Products are primarily sold via pharmacies and Kirana stores. The hygiene quotient has expanded much beyond personal usage. Emami’s Sureka says that there is a market for unbranded/local variants. But, the maintains that the majority of the consumers will always choose a known and trusted brand over local alternatives.