Bar soap reigns in India’s cleansing market; body wash struggles to lather up

April 24, 2023

New research from Mintel reveals that bar soap remains the most popular cleansing format for 90% of Indian consumers, with only 9% using body wash* most often for their shower. A major barrier to body wash usage is high prices, with 63% of consumers stating it is too expensive.

According to data from Mintel Global New Products Database (GNPD), more than 90% of newly launched bar soaps between December 2021 and November 2022 were priced in the range of US$0.12-5.11 compared to only 60% of shower products. Meanwhile, 31% of shower products were priced in the higher range of US$5.12-10.11.

Mintel research also estimates that the Indian soap, bath and shower category will grow at a CAGR of 5.1% by 2026, down from the 7.6% seen in 2017-21. Bar soaps remain the majority share of the category and account for the most growth.

Tanya Rajani, Senior Beauty & Personal Care Analyst, Mintel Reports India, said:

“When it comes to personal care preferences, our research highlights that Indian women value intense cleansing abilities (60%) and exciting textures (43%), while men are drawn to mood-boosting qualities (43%). Soap, bath and shower brands should innovate with fragrance, texture, and enhanced efficacy to provide new showering experiences for consumers and to add value to their offerings as the landscape grows more competitive.”

Value packs and small-sized packaging can encourage body wash usage

Mintel research suggests that value packs and sachets are more economical formats, which can encourage body wash usage among price-sensitive Indian consumers. Four in ten metro consumers (40%) strongly agree that discounts and promotions are the primary factors that drive the purchase of soap, bath, and shower products.

“Bar soaps are considered economical, and value packs are a very common format associated with bar soaps. As such, body wash products could leverage the value pack format to draw on the same economical appeal and better compete with bar soap.

“Body wash brands can look to some shampoo brands that have innovated shampoo in bar form for inspiration. Priced at a mere INR1, bar shampoo encouraged product usage and deters consumers from using general bar soap on their hair,” Rajani added.

Tapping into the clean beauty movement

In addition to high prices, chemicals are the next barrier to body wash usage, particularly among metro consumers (27%). According to Mintel research on Clean Beauty, 12% of Indian consumers rank “free from harmful chemicals” as the most important factor when choosing beauty and personal care products, next to “made with natural ingredients” (15%).

“As the clean beauty movement sees high growth in India, brands that position themselves as free from harmful chemicals and containing natural ingredients will benefit from capturing consumers’ attention, particularly those residing in the metro.

“Metro consumers are usually the first to catch on to beauty trends and, therefore, nearly half strongly agree (46%) on the importance of soap, bath and shower products being free from harmful chemicals,” Rajani concluded.

Additional research on Indian consumer attitudes towards skincare and interviews with the analyst are available upon request from the Mintel Press Office. For those interested in purchasing the full report, please visit the Mintel Store.

Tanya Rajani
Tanya Rajani

Tanya is Mintel’s Principal Beauty and Personal Care Analyst based in Mumbai. She specialises in analysing and providing insights into India’s beauty and personal care market and consumer trends.

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