Soaps and Detergents are cleaning products that have become an essential part in our daily lives. Cleaning products play an essential role by safely and effectively removing dirts, germs and other contaminants, and thus promote a hygienic lifestyle.
Toilet soaps account for the largest single share of about 10% in the Rs 480 billion FMCG market. The toilet market is getting saturated at a high penetration level of 98% and is growing at a very modest rate. The toilet soap, once only an urban phenomenon, has now penetrated practically in all areas including remote rural areas. The incremental demand flows from population increase and rise in the usage norm impacted as it is by a greater concern for hygiene. Increased sales revenues would also expand from upgradation of quality or per unit value.
The market is littered over with several leading national and global brands and a large number of small brands which have limited markets. The popular and premium brands include Lifebuoy, Lux, Cinthol, Liril, Rexona, Shikaki, Nirma, Dettol etc.to name a few. The inventory, however, changes by the quarter-if not by the month.
The market is expected to grow at rates ranging from under 4% to around 4.5%. These are very modest rates considering that the lifestyles not only of urbanites, but even of well-off rural folks are changing at a very high pace.
The leader in the toilet soap category, HLL enjoys a high market share, followed, a way behind by Godrej Consumer Products, Nirma, Reckitt Benckinser etc.
Detergent powders are laundry-cleaning products that are made using a synthetic surfactant in place of the metal fatty acid salts, which are used in soaps. Made in powder form, these detergents are also sold as laundry powders, hard surface cleansers, etc. Majority of the powder detergents has soap in their mixture of ingredients; however they basically function more as a foam depressant than as a surfactant. Detergents ,as a constituent of the overall chemicals industry, accounts for a near 9% of the total demand for all chemicals estimated at around Rs 315 billion. Detergents, chemically known as alfa olefin sulphonates (AOS) are used as fabric brightening agent, anti-deposition agent, and stain remover and as a bleacher. The overall market is estimated at around Rs 28 billion. A major input for the production of detergents is a petrochemical, Linear Alkyl Benzene (LAB), while soaps rely more on an inorganic chemical, caustic soda, a s a major input.
Detergents are available as powder, bars and liquids. Bars make up for less than half of the market, while powders have more than a third of the market. Liquids have 12% presence in the market. The bar market is dominated by Hindustan Lever(HLL) with a share of over 40% swayed by its brands.-Rin,wheel,555,shakti,OK. The super-premium market, making up for around 10% of the overall detergents market, is dominated by Surf Excel from HLL and Ariel from proctor & Gamble. The two together have a near 90% market with the rest coming in from players like Henkel SPIC.
In the sub premium segment, Nirma from Nirma Soaps and Wheel from HLL are the major players with small presence from an array of brands like Trilo, Hipolin, Tide, Key, Chek, and others.
Toilet soaps and detergents, despite their divergent brands, are not well differentiated by the consumers. It is, therefore, not clear if it is the brand loyalty or experimentation lured by high volume media campaign, which sustains them. A consequence is that the market is fragmented and mercurial. It is obvious that this must lead to a highly competitive market.