Intense rivalry, growth from rural areas, premiumization, strong marketing campaigns and brands investing heavily on innovations will force the market towards sustainable growth.
The first companies to manufacture detergents in India were HUL and Swastik. HUL test marketed Surf between 1956 and 1958 and began manufacturing it from 1959. Swastik launched Det, a white detergent powder, in 1957. The laundry soap that had been traditionally used for washing of cloths had limitations in terms of performing in highly alkaline or acidic water. These limitations of soaps led to the development of synthetic detergents that were superior in performance. Today, these detergents are a regular grocery item in the Indian households. Characterized by immense competition and high penetration levels the Indian detergent market is growing with double digits and has entered into maturity stage.
According to recently published report of Bonafide Research “India Detergent Market Overview, 2022-28”, detergent market was growing with a CAGR of more the 10% from last five years. Powder detergents are the mostly widely accepted detergent whereas detergent bars will demonstrate slow growth in the forecast period. Liquid detergent is a new product type in India and has only one big player HUL with Surf Excel liquid detergent. The detergent market is a highly competitive one where several brands compete with each other to get the customers attention. Each brand claims to clean whiter and better, boasting of power pearls and of ability to fight granules, and so on. Hindustan Unilever, Rohit Surfactants, P&G Home Products, Nirma and Jyothy Laboratories are the major organized players operating in this industry.
There are three categories in the organized market namely mass, mid-range and premium. Brands in the mass (economy) category were the major drivers of the market till now. But with increasing disposable income, rising urbanization and decreasing price gaps; Indian consumers are all set to shift from economy products to mid-range and premium category. The detergent market has already seen a growth period but is poised for another round of growth with Indian consumers buying ‘value for money’ products. Apart from standard detergent powders, washing machine powders are also increasingly becoming popular with growing penetration of washing machines in the country. However, washing machine detergents have shown low penetration in rural areas but hand wash detergents enjoy appreciable penetration in both rural and urban areas.
The future value growth of the industry will also come from rural areas where the national firms get tough competition from regional and small unorganized players. They still account for a major share of the total volume of the detergent market in rural India due to low pricing. Manufacturers are increasing their brand awareness and availability in such remote and rural areas where ‘kirana’ stores are still the major source of distribution channel. Moreover, brands are investing heavily on innovation and R&D so that their offering becomes more localized, accessible and affordable to rural consumers.