Consumer Preferences Consumer preferences are varied and are more regionally specific. India is divided into four regions: North, East, West, and South. •Consumers in the North prefer pink colored soaps, which have floral profiles. Here the fragrance preference is for more sophisticated profiles reflecting their lifestyles. Freshness soaps with lime and citrus notes are also popular preferences as the climate in the North is very hot and citrus/lime scented soaps are seen to be refreshing. •The East is not a big soap market; hence no particular preference skews. Consumers in the West exhibit preferences for strong, impactful fragrances and somewhat harsher profiles compared to the North. Preferences are more for the pink soaps with floral fragrances, primarily rose, which are positioned on the beauty platform. •In the South, the skew is towards specific soap segments like the Herbal/Ayurvedic profiles and also the Sandal profiles. Consumers here do not exhibit high brand loyalty and are ready to experiment and try out new brands. Hence, most fast moving consumer goods companies tend to launch their new brands in these markets, which they call test launch markets.
In India, soaps are available in five million retail stores, out of which, 3. 75 million retail stores are in the rural areas. Therefore, availability of these products is not an issue. 70% of India’s population resides in the rural areas; hence around 50% of the soaps are sold in the rural markets. 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. %. 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. Share prices as on 19/8/2010 Godrej Consumer Products Ltd. 389. 8 Hindustan Unilever Ltd. 273. 75 Jocil Ltd. 373. 7 Jyothy Laboratories Ltd. 285. 35 Nirma Ltd. 201. 45 Procter & Gamble Hygiene & Healthcare Ltd. 2268 Reckitt Benckiser (India) Ltd.