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Multiplier Effect

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One of the fastest growing categories in the Indian household products industry is the multi-purpose household cleaning and laundry products. Though customers hardly gave it its due attention until a few years ago, a number of factors, including the increasing health consciousness among consumers, are responsible for its fast-paced growth.

A recent consumer insight report, “Indian Household Products Industry: Capitalising on Changing Consumer Preferences”, by Datamonitor estimates the Indian household products industry to be worth `11,100 crore (as of 2009) and growing at a healthy pace – the industry registered a CAGR of 10 percent between 2004 and 2009. The reasons for this growth include economically and upwardly mobile consumers, who, due to their busy schedules, have less time to devote to domestic chores.
In the household products industry, a segment which is doing very well is multi-purpose household cleaning and laundry products. In the report, Rahul Ashok, consultant – consumer markets, Datamonitor India, says, “Given the rising number of nuclear families, the decreasing age at which Indians buy their first home, and the sophisticated appliances and fitments in each household, there is an imminent opportunity in the Indian market.” 
He further says, “To cater to a generation of time-starved consumers, multi-functional products would present ample opportunities amid the slew of surface/occasion-specific products that currently crowd the market.” The Datamonitor consumer survey found that more than 65 percent of Indian consumers are highly influenced by ease-of-use and multipurpose claims, and the importance given to these are higher than most other attributes of a household care Product.
In recent years, many brands, such as Mr Muscle, Easy Off Bang and Cif, have begun to capitalise on the possibility of using a combination of efficacy-plus-convenience as a value differentiator. These brands, Ashok says, have succinct advertising campaigns, which have helped them build a strong presence in most urban Indian cities.
Dabur India Limited, a leading consumer goods company (with a turnover of `2,834.11 crore in FY 2009), has two very popular products in the multi-purpose household cleaning and laundry products segment – SaniFresh and Dazzl.
On Dabur’s decision to enter the household cleaner space with a multi-purpose product, Dazzl, a company spokesperson says, “The growth in demand for new homes across the country and the growing awareness among urban consumers have resulted in a surge in sales of specialised home-cleaning products. 
Consumers are becoming more hygiene- conscious and seeking better and more innovative products for their homes.” Stressing that the demand for specialised cleaning products is on the rise, the spokesperson says, “Companies such as Dabur are upping the ante with the launch of new products or specialised variants of existing products, offering unique cleaning properties, thereby fuelling the growth.” The company is upbeat about the segment and is developing various marketing strategies to create awareness among the general public.
Last month, SaniFresh rolled out a unique community service programme – ‘Seva at Gurdwara’ – across Punjab. The objective behind the programme was to create mass awareness about sanitary cleanliness and to spread a sense of community service. “Under this mega community and CSR initiative, volunteers have been offering free cleaning services to gurdwaras in six cities – Amritsar, Ludhiana, Chandigarh, Patiala, Jalandhar, Mohali and Panchkula – of Punjab. The SaniFresh team is cleaning up public toilets at 56 gurdwaras,including the Harmandar Sahib Golden Temple in Amritsar,” the company spokesperson adds.  
Sharing his views on Datamonitor’s consumer insight report, Viney Singh, MD, Max Hypermarket India Pvt Ltd, says, “The report is accurate when we compare products developed over the last 10 years with the recent product additions to the market. Multi-functional household products are necessary for the busy working woman, as they target the lifestyle needs of today’s woman, along with value for money, functionality and convenience. As a retailer, we, too, have witnessed the growing trend of sales of multi-purpose home care products.”
Agreeing with Singh, Thomas Varghese, CEO, Aditya Birla Retail Ltd (ABRL), says, “Modern trade is helping change the buying behaviour of the shopper. The consumer’s buying behaviour has surely moved towards these products. The need for a hygienic environment and the feel good/smell good factors are driving the subconscious mind towards the premium segment. The homemaker believes that her house is a reflection of her caring and protecting nature towards her family.”
On the growth witnessed in this segment, Singh says, “Our supermarkets at Koramangala and Begumpet have witnessed an increase in the sales of multi-functional household
According to him, one of the ways that retailers are cashing in on this growing trend is by aggressively showcasing the range of products, with all kinds of deals and offers, that attract customers to buy, as well as by large advertising spends. Varghese says retailers are marketing this segment by making the product visible to the customer, showing them the value in the product by inducing trials (sampling), and ensuring multiple display or touch points for shoppers.
Stressing that most Indian consumers are more value-conscious than price-conscious while choosing household products, Ashok of Datamonitor says in his report: “Even if the brands that offer multi-purpose benefits are priced at a small premium over the other surface cleaners but communicate the value proposition effectively, consumers would not mind paying for it.”
On the price-sensitive Indian consumer, Singh says, “There are segments of customers who are very price-conscious; for them, the cost of the product is the qualifying factor for purchase. However, there is another kind of customer for whom cost is of little consequence and quality is paramount.”
He further says, “Importantly, the belief in the claims or promises made by the brand on critical hygiene factors, such as ‘kills germs’, are very important while making purchase decisions. Customers might have tried economical brands, but consumption of these may be higher and convenience becomes an issue.”
Varghese is of the opinion that home cleaning products have traditionally been dominated by local brands, delivering very high on the ‘value for money’ part of the equation. He, however, says the scenario is changing with more exposure to bigger and better brands and better product performance.
Opportunities Galore
The Datamonitor report says that in the multi-purpose household cleaning and laundry segment, there exists a lot of scope for new product development in categories such as furniture polish and textile washing products.
The report also says that it is only in the last 5-10 years that modular kitchen concepts and expensive wooden/particle-board furniture have made in-roads into the new homes of young, urban Indians. There exists an innate desire to protect these furnishings and fitments, but there are not too many affordable products in the market to cater to these needs.
Ashok states in the report: “Companies should exploit the fact that the cost of maintenance would be much lower than the cost of replacement in the absence of any regular care, and come out with multi-surface furniture polish products, which would help extend the life of household furniture.” 
In the case of textile washing products also, there are opportunities to launch washing powders, for instance, which not only help whiten clothes and remove stains, but also disinfect them. This would address a key concern for many Indian mothers, especially those who use a combination of washing powder and a disinfectant such as Dettol to wash their children’s clothes.
On the product innovation done by SPAR, Singh says, “SPAR is developing its own range of private labels. Furniture polishes are not yet on the radar. The focus is on the core benefits to establish the brand – keeping in mind the lifestyle trends and the requirement for instant, effective and ‘value-for-money’ solutions and less effort on the part of
the homemaker.”
Varghese says, “Currently, the investment is more towards penetrated categories; nevertheless, these categories are part of the innovation funnel. Today’s consumer is well travelled, demanding and willing to pay extra for her comfort and health, and the brands see this as a business opportunity.”
Clearly, the opportunities in this segment are tremendous and given the right impetus, the multi-purpose household cleaning and laundry products segment will grow manifolds. As Ashok concludes in the Datamonitor report: “It is going to be imperative even for successful brands to identify and continuously invest on product line extension and innovation to make the most of the opportunity that the Indian market has to offer.”      
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