Soap makers are upping the ante on their premium brands, following a significant jump in demand across urban and rural markets. Premium soaps have been growing at 8-10% vis-a-vis the overall category growth of 5%, while the body wash segment has been growing at 40-50% from a small base, senior industry officials said.
Aspirational purchases by consumers for products like skincare soaps, body washes and other specialised brands have seen companies like Godrej Consumer Products (GCPL), relaunching their premium skin care brand Evita which was taken out the market earlier. Godrej has earmarked Rs 95 crore in increasing their soap manufacturing capacity. Even contract makers like VVF have got into manufacturing their own brands in this segment to cash in on the growing demand in the toilet soap category.
“We saw an opportunity in this market sometime back and relaunched Evita, a brand which already had a recall value. This time, we have introduced an active ingredient for age control, which serves as a value addition,” said RK Sinha, executive V-P, GCPL. The company is looking at introducing more soaps on the higher end which are already in the development stage. Evita was taken off the Indian market in the mid-90s.
The industry defines premium soap as that which costs Rs 10 or more for 75 grams. According to AC Nielsen studies, the size of the premium soaps category is Rs 1,196 crore in value terms with a CAGR of 9.8% and in volume term, it is was 60,300 tonne with a CAGR of 9.7%. The niche bodywash market has grown upwards of 50% last year and is now valued at Rs 9.2 crore.
“Last year, Dove grew from 0.7% marketshare to 0.9% and Pears grew from 3.4% to 3.6% on all India basis. In urban India, the shares were 1.4 % and 4.9%, respectively, at the end of '05. Lux bodywash ended last year at 44% marketshare and has grown by 50% in the March quarter,” says an HLL spokesperson.
Recently, the company has launched Dove Fresh Moisture with cucumber and green tea essence and the Dove Exfoliating bar. Although retailers said that the reason for launching the variants was that their existing Dove moisturising bar did not click with consumers in the South and South-West regions due to climatic reasons, the company claims otherwise.
“The original dove bar is doing very well in India and has been growing in double digits for the last few years. This variant helps expand the appeal of Dove among the set of consumers,“ said the HLL spokesperson.
VVF, another FMCG company, which has Doy Care Aloe Vera, has recently introduced Shiff, a multi-purpose beauty soap. “We saw a demand for value addition among consumers. Hence, we launched Shiff. This year, we plan to launch more products in this category and introduce a range of body washes,” said Piyush Jindal, V-P, personal care, VVF.
Nivea India, an affiliate of Beiersdorf, the German company, is planning to introduce a range of products in the bath care segment. This will include more soaps and shower gels.