Demand for hygiene tailwinds the fabric care industry in India

January 25, 2022

As the importance of disinfecting and sterilizing clothes rises, the liquid detergent format becomes more popular among consumers

After enduring lockdowns, urban-dwelling Indians will gradually return to physical offices this year and many will find themselves putting out their workwear once again. But with the invisible threat of the pandemic still lingering, Indian consumers will continue to seek extra hygiene benefits from products including fabric care, according to Mintel’s latest research. In fact, 81%* of consumers agree that sterilizing clothes is an important part of their laundry rituals, with 43%** of millennial men showing strong demand for fabric sanitizers – a category which was non-existent before 2019 – to ensure extra clean fabric upon returning from work.

Tanya Rajani, Beauty & Personal Care Analyst, Mintel, said:

“COVID-19 has heightened hygiene concerns, including in the fabric care sector. While cleaning efficacy and color protection remain the primary concerns, consumers are also seeking out antibacterial claims to ensure clothes are visibly clean and virus-free.”

“40% of Indian consumers strongly agree that clothes should be washed immediately after every wear during the pandemic outbreak – this rose to 45% among those who seek antibacterial claims appealing in fabric care.

“While 50% of consumers are looking for antibacterial claims, it is expected to be an addition and part of multi-benefits on top of cleaning efficacy and color protection. These four claims combined can help engage the 94% of fabric care users.”

The liquid detergent format is on the rise

The heightened demand for hygiene has also led to an increase in liquid format launches (41%)*** from November 2020 to October 2021. This has overtaken powder format launches (27%) following the continuous growth of washing machine usage in urban India. Meanwhile, the previously non-existent category of fabric sanitizers saw a sudden spike in 2020, with 91% of fabric sanitizer launches**** during the past five years taking place in 2020 alone.

While liquid detergent launches are becoming more prevalent, this newer format has yet to match up as traditional formats such as powder and bar are still relevant for consumers. Its usage penetration (49%)***** is still behind traditional powder (70%) with the current users geared towards working women from high-income families. 

As these consumers trade up to modern fabric care options, they expect the elevated convenience from the products that can do more with multi-functionality.

Tanya Rajani, Beauty & Personal Care Analyst, Mintel, said:

“With the rate of replacement purchases for clothes becoming shorter, rising spending habits, improved electricity availability, technological advancement, and evolving lifestyles, washing machines are expected to achieve deeper penetration across the Indian population. Those consumers who already invested in washing machines expect elevated convenience, replacing the need for complicated routines.

“Liquid detergent is a fabric care product washing machine owners adopted to address the need for convenience as 59%* of washing machine owners are using liquid detergent, compared to 49% in the total sample. 

“Though the worry of COVID-19 is subsiding, hygiene remains on consumers’ top-of-mind when purchasing products, and these consumers (even migrant workforces) are likely to retain a preference for upgraded options as they seek better protection and care for their clothing as they return to the cities and resume normal work routines.”

Notes to Editors

*3,000 internet users aged 18+

**299 male internet users aged 25-34 year

***Mintel GNPD, Nov 2018-Oct 2021

****Mintel GNPD, Jan 2016- Dec 2020

*****3,000 internet users aged 18+

Interviews with our analyst teams are available on request from the Mintel Press Office

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