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A war for your kitchen

india Updated: Jul 08, 2013 02:50 IST
Himani Chandna Gurtoo

When homemaker Malini Sharma, 45, went grocery shopping last weekend, she picked up an anti-bacterial dishwashing liquid. “For the last 10 years, I used a bar. But now it is not just about cleaning, it’s about disinfecting the entire kitchen.”

Two trends have made the kitchen an interesting space for consumers. Rising hygiene awareness in urban India has consumers more willing to upgrade to better hygiene products, while dishwashing and kitchen cleaning brands are innovating.

While just 15% of consumers are currently using dishwashing liquids that account for sales of Rs 300 crore, the product format is growing at 40%.

HR executive Shivani Verma, 30, said, "From simple cake soap in my kitchen, I switched to liquid soap, and then to gel. But I don't want to clean utensils with just any chemicals. I am looking for a herb-based disinfectant dishwash product, which I believe the growing competition in this category will bring me."

Anandi Tuli, who washes utensils in several homes in an upscale suburban residential complex in Mumbai, said, “I normally ask my employers to buy dishwashing liquid with the bars. Many agree, some refuse.”

"Household supplies and cleaners are seeing a spurt in growth," said a recent study by CII- Nielsen. "Increasing household budgets have allowed for new categories to enter the household. Housewives are open to spending incrementally on specialty cleaning products." http://www.hindustantimes.com/Images/Popup/2013/7/08_07_13-buss21.gif

It is precisely this opportunity that saw Reckitt Benkiser’s Dettol extending to the kitchen through a dual-purpose dishwashing and kitchen surface cleaning liquid gel in February-March. Nothing could have focused consumer attention so sharply on the category as this new launch.

In its launch TV ad, Dettol kitchen gel claimed that it got rid of germs more effectively than Hindustan Unilever’s (HUL’s) Vim, which has dominated Indian kitchens for long.

A Kolkata High Court order asked Dettol to stop direct comparison with Vim, while the HUL brand also struck back with advertising that asked consumers whether they would prefer to use a harsh antiseptic dishwashing liquid on their children’s tiffin boxes, or a liquid with the power of 100 lemons.

After tom-tomming the power of 100 lemons, Vim is currently running a TV ad on the new lemon and neem (known for its antiseptic quality) liquid variant. “We ensure that the Vim range keeps extending benefits across formats. The latest offering is specially formulated to provide the removal of both grease and germs from utensils,” said an HUL spokesperson. Reckitt refused to comment.

The advertising blitzkrieg, joined by other brands such as Jyothy Laboratories’ Exo which uses cockroach images to get the message across, and Henkel’s Pril, is keeping consumer attention riveted. Pril claims at an anti-bacterial component that can “kill 99.99% germs”. Exo claims to be the only anti-bacterial dishwash liquid with Cyclozan.

Adding to the pull are also private label products from large retail chains such as Wal-Mart, 110% and More Value from Aditya Birla and Caremate from Big Bazaar, according to Euromonitor. These brands are promoted heavily inside their expanding chain of stores.

A Euromonitor International report says that going forward, hand dishwashing is expected to monopolise the category and the transition from powder to bar to liquid will fuel value sales growth. The bar will, however, continue to sustain due to its lower pricing.

The shift to the liquid format and more hygienic products has, however, begun. High decibel advertising on dishwashing liquids with germ-kill or anti-bacterial benefits is driving demand.

"This is not only a result of greater consumer awareness about potential health problems but also consumer product companies coming up with new and innovative products and educating the consumers about them," said Pragya Singh, associate director, retail, Technopak.