Growing popularity of herbal soaps reshaping the Indian soap industry
Herbal soap has emerged as one of the fastest growing category in the Indian soap market, which is one of the oldest industries operating in the FMCG sector in India, and accounts for more than 50% of the consumer goods sector. Around 50% of soaps produced in India are sold in rural markets. Increasing awareness of hygienic standards in rural areas is offering growth opportunities to several players. Manufacturers are introducing soaps in different sizes and ranges, targeting consumers from low-income groups. Currently, there are around 5 Mn retail outlets in India which sell soaps, out of which 3.75 Mn operate in rural areas.
Government initiatives is a major growth driver
Government initiatives like Swachh Bharat Mission, which promotes health and hygiene in the community, is providing impetus to the soap manufacturing industry. Moreover, busy and stressful lifestyles are creating the need for solutions that can help consumers relax. Another trend driving the popularity of soaps is the demand for male-centric products with a focus on the importance of a well-groomed appearance.
To better serve consumers, it is essential for soap and bath product brands to work on reassuring hygiene benefits, develop products that have a de-stressing effect including natural and chemical-free ingredients, and offer innovative solutions specific to various demographic groups.
Three consumer trends driving the adoption of herbal soaps
Freedom from germs
More than a 75% adults in India who use soap or shower products look for an anti-bacterial feature when they shop, according to market studies. Owing to the rising consciousness about cleanliness, consumers are now increasingly taking care of their personal hygiene. The fear of communicable diseases among consumers is arguably one of the important factors driving the demand for herbal soaps and hand washes. This is giving brands the opportunity to offer newer products to consumers that concentrate on the hygiene aspect of health.
Bathing is considered to a therapeutic activity in Ayurveda and consumers are increasingly looking for herbal products and wellness treatments that can help them relax their mind and bodies in the most natural ways possible. With busier lifestyles, Indian consumers are dedicating their time for relaxation, in a bid to lead a healthy lifestyle. This is creating an opportunity for brands operating in the soap market in India to offer products with high therapeutic value that can help consumers heal and de-stress during their bath naturally. Fragrances too help in enhancing the sensorial experience, and are likely to attract such consumers.
Fashion conscious male consumers
Off late, there has been a rise in aspiration among men to maintain a well-groomed appearance as it makes them feel more confident. Rapid urbanisation and increasing per capita income are some other factors that contribute to the increasing demand for male-centric products. As this trend continues to expand, brands are increasingly focused on catering to this section with gender-specific products herbal products that suit the needs and requirements of male consumers.
Bathing soaps with cooling agents and herbal ingredients are significantly attracting customers as people these days prefer herbal soaps because of their therapeutic value. Consumers are also abstaining from using soaps that contain chemicals and other toxic elements, and increasing shifting toward herbal soaps.