In the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic, consumers thronged the markets for hand sanitisers and other sanitary products
The personal hygiene market is expected to reach US$15 Bn by 2023 in India
Personal hygiene products will continue to see higher demand as consumers wouldn’t want to compromise here, say founders
The consumer-buying behaviour has shifted tremendously after Covid-19 impact and nowhere is this more apparent than in the personal hygiene and sanitary products space. Most individuals are now carrying multiple bottles of hand sanitiser with them and many consumers are becoming more conscious of their health and taking preventive steps against disease control.
As per a Nielsen report, the hand sanitiser segment witnessed a mammoth growth of 53% in February against 11% growth from November-January. The sudden increase in demand has made hand sanitisers out of stock. Moreover, people started to produce their own hand sanitisers at home. The major FMCG companies like Dabur, HUL and Himalaya decided to double their production of hygiene products.
For a long time, the hygiene products were confined into soaps, face wash and hair care products in India. Commenting on growing attention of consumers on personal hygiene products during Covid-19 pandemic, Deep Bajaj, founder of Sirona Hygiene added, “It’s sad that it took a pandemic like Covid-19 to emphasise the importance of hygiene but now that this has happened — habits across the pyramid will change.”
With the pandemic fears ruling the market, more innovative products and newer brands are entering the personal hygiene space. Nowadays, personal hygiene products like intimate care wipes, anti-chafing creams for men, sweat patches, sanitary napkins, urination devices, disposable towels, gloves and oral care are more available on e-commerce platforms, essentials deliveries and other retail outlets.
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Generational Shift, Ecommerce Driving Personal Care Market In India
According to Statista, the personal care market in India was valued at US$11.5 Bn in 2019 and is expected to cross US$15 Bn by 2023. The personal care industry constitutes nearly 46% market share of total beauty and personal care industry in India in 2019.
The growth of the personal care market is driven by the generational shift in India, growing awareness about personal hygiene, and availability of products on e-commerce platforms. Even social media has a positive impact on changing the buying behaviour of consumers regarding personal hygiene products.
Commenting on the rising prospects, Vikas Bagaria, founder of Pee Safe told Inc42, “There was not much demand from the general public prior to the outbreak. However, this has increased sharply now. We feel that even after things normalize, the demand will keep growing and the hand sanitizer segment will be valued up to 2000 crore by the year 2025. The awareness about sanitation and hand hygiene has grown tremendously and after this experience, people are likely to adhere to the best practices as a way of life ahead.”
The average revenue per user (ARPU) is also showing a rising trend in the personal care market. Personal care segment attributes higher ARPU than other segments of personal beauty and care markets like cosmetics, fragments and skincare products. The lucrative revenue opportunity is luring more startups to enter the personal hygiene market than other segments.
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Consumer Interest Around Personal Hygiene Products Highest
As the Covid-19 lockdown was announced in India, there was big panic in the market around personal hygiene products such as hand wash, hand sanitizer and face masks as well as other protective gear. This turned the situation into something similar to the grocery delivery market, with supply chain disruption for personal hygiene products.
The Google Trends chart shows that searches for hand wash, hand sanitiser and mask increased tremendously from March 2020 onwards. The trend is expected to continue even after the Covid-19, as the lockdown ends until the vaccine is widely available. The average sales of personal hygiene products will decrease after the end of the Covid-19 lockdown and the restrictions end, but it will still be more than average sales of personal hygiene products before Covid-19 outbreak.
Hand Sanitiser Demand Outpaces Supply In India
According to a survey conducted by Statista, up to 50% of respondents were not able to buy hand sanitisers due to unavailability up to March 31, 2020. After announcing the countrywide lockdown from March 25, 2020, consumers in India were trying to stock hand sanitiser but the panic-buying started from the starting of March 2020.
Commenting on the scarcity of hygiene products, Sirona’s Bajaj further added, “Though our range comes under essential conditions, the business is presently deeply impacted due to logistics, labour, raw material, payments issues etc but we are confident that the new normal will be here soon, and it will change the world for the better.”
Femtech Companies Dominating Personal Hygiene Space
Innovation and new technology are driving the personal hygiene startups market in India. Largely, the personal hygiene startups space is dominated by femtech players producing female hygiene products. With the narrow focus on the personal hygiene sector by healthtech players, startups are targeting a very niche addressable base of the healthcare sector.
As per Euromonitor, the feminine hygiene market is expected to reach US$522 Mn by 2020. The state of healthcare and hygiene conditions for women in urban areas is far better than rural areas. More community and social media driven programmes will spread awareness of personal hygiene practices in rural areas and will help develop a better immunity system and a healthy lifestyle.
As the demand for personal hygiene products increases, we expect more startups and brands to emerge in this space. With the help of technology, startups will redefine personal hygiene in areas like public toilets and sanitation facilities, shower areas, baby products and female care products.
Divesh Sood, Founder of Fe-Uri, which makes urination aid for women, remarked, “The demand will remain high as people don’t want to compromise with their personal hygiene. Whenever the lockdown will be lifted people won’t be taking a risk and trying to make direct contacts in any sense. Products like bamboo sanitary pads, stand & pee funnels will get good demand in the market as everyone will be trying to avoid common washrooms or direct contact with toilet seats in colleges, offices, hospitals etc.”
As consumers understand the key role that wellness and personal hygiene products play in their daily lives, and as awareness for personal hygiene goes up post Covid-19, the market will also see international players.
The digital consumer has already taken a huge leap of faith when it comes to groceries during Covid-19 pandemic in India and a similar trend will play out in the hygiene space. There is a huge potential for personal hygiene products, but the first hurdle for companies is to overcome unawareness among consumers. New-age consumers spend money consciously on new products, hence innovation, branding, direct-to-consumer chain and customer service will play a big role in determining the frontrunners in this space.
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