The market share for handmade soaps in India is very nascent. An estimation of the market share of natural handmade soaps would be difficult as the major segment of the soap market, like HUL, produces commercial bars that mostly restrict to the basic benefit of soap, which is cleansing, unlike handmade soaps that serve many more benefits. Ishween Anand, Founder and Owner, Nyassa, says, “The natural handmade soap category is probably a drop in the ocean mainly because of its target customer, which is a niche segment of the society.” Some of the leading naturally handmade soap brands in India include The Body Shop, Lush and Forest Essentials.
The Indian connect
At the roots of handmade products lies the Indian Ayurvedic knowledge, but when it comes to usability of natural handmade products, it is only in the recent years that it has gained popularity. In countries like the US, Australia and the UK, the awareness and popularity of handmade products is surprisingly more. “In India, we are proud to be one of the early players to start a handmade bath and body product industry,” says Anand.
Speaking about consumer reach, Anand says, “At present, we have over 150 products across seven categories that are sold through our flagship store in Mumbai and other retail outlets in Mumbai as well as through franchises in Pune, Hyderabad and Nasik. Nyassa is also a retailer (online and offline), distributor and exporter of bath and body products through its website www.nyassa.in. The brand also retails through kiosks at Shopper Stop and Phoenix Mills.”
Marketing and promotion
The market for natural handmade soaps will grow as the awareness amongst consumers grows. The consumer of today is highly aware and reads ingredients, label information and is knowledgeable on various ingredients. “We target a niche segment – people who have more disposable income to attain a lifestyle of this kind. Moreover, with increasing awareness about skin-related issues caused by cosmetics, which the commercial soaps are unable to cure, people are switching to natural and handmade products,” says Anand.
Aggressive marketing promotion is needed to increase the awareness level among consumers. “Currently, we are active on social media, which is a popular tool for marketing purposes used by many companies. With the popularity of social networking sites, it has become easier to target the right customer as the site lays down detail profile information of an individual’” shares Anand.
Speaking about the challenges faced so far in the natural handmade soap category, Anand says, “While marketing this product category, the main obstacle was to find right supplier for the right ingredients as the composition of each product has a varied and vast list of natural ingredients that rare and difficult to find. Plus, when we say natural, we would never compromise on the quality of the ingredients, and as such, it was a difficult task. From the customer point of view, it was difficult to break the rigid mindset of people about the difference between commercial and natural handmade soaps and make them switch over as natural products are priced high. We had to give them a worthwhile reason for spending Rs135 for a soap.”
Adding new techniques, introducing new ingredients from around the globe and presenting it to Indian consumers would help in creating a new consumer base. The more innovative a brand is, with its reach stretching all over the country, the more it will be able to grab a larger market share of this untapped market segment. “In future, we would like to expand our business by increasing the number of stores, exploring the segment with vigorous research and development and innovating products in the bath and body segment,” adds Anand.