It is time for the two major detergent manufacturers - Hindustan Lever (HLL) and Henkel Spic - to lather up a froth by aggressively relaunching their mid-priced (Rs. 42 - Rs.45) detergent powder market in India.
While HLL relaunched its Rin Shakti, Henkel Spic followed suit with Mr. White. Both products have an improved product proposition with new ingredients and come in redesigned packs.
The Rs.5,700 crore detergent market is segmented into two product categories - powder and cake. Within this, the detergent powder market is further sub divided into four categories - concentrates/compact (variants of Surf, Henko, Ariel), premium (variants of Surf, Henko, Ariel), mass premium/mid price (Rin, Mr.White, Tide and regional brands) and popular (Nirma, Wheel, Chek).
Value-wise, the premium segment contributes a major share while the popular brands contributes the volumes. However the detergents market in a general has not grown in the last couple of years, hence the relaunches
Says Henkel Spic's managing director, Satish Kumar, "The relaunch is not only to infuse some excitement into the market but also to offer better product to the consumers."
The first to move was HLL. Early in January, this year, the company relaunched its Rin Shakti powder as the New Rin Powder. The newness is the detergent's property to dissolve fully in the water unlike with the earlier product and other competing brands. This, claims the manufacturer, results in lower usage and better cleaning of the fabric - a technology patented by Unilever.
According to HLL, other detergents leave behind a mud-like residue, while Rin's new innovation allows 100 per cent dissolution and enhanceing whiteness. HLL had earlier incorporated this in its detergent bar variant, Rin Supreme. In addition, the New Rin Powder also has enhanced fragrance. For HLL the Rin brand - powder and cake - brings in a whopping Rs.700 crore revenue per annum.
On the other hand, Henkel Spic's Kumar claims that Mr. White is the only eco-friendly detergent in its segment which also produces dazzling whiteness and comes with a fresh fragrance. "We have strengthened the ingredients in the detergents. Further, the powder comes in the new international gusset pack to portray the premium quality and strong shelf visibility."
According to him, the Rs.50 crore revenue Mr.White is the number two brand in the segment with a market share of 14 per cent, which with the relaunch is expected to go up to 20 per cent. The brand has good presence in Andhra Pradesh, Kerala and Tamil Nadu.
Predictably consumers of both brands have to suffer a slight price hike. Defends Kumar, "The price hike of Mr. White is just one rupee to take care of the increase in input costs." According to him, for the past two years there was no price increase though the costs of inputs had gone up.
While Mr.White is available for Rs.42 per kg, the New Rin Powder is available at an introductory price of Rs.42/kg as against the normal price of Rs.45.
HLL's television commercial for the New Rin Powder talks about the consumer's desire to sport sparkling white clothes. On the other hand Henkel Spic's commercial uses a top-down approach. The commercial features a scientist's family as users of Mr.White feeling happy with its dirt removing properties.
Says Kumar, "Research shows that people generally believe in the voices of authority and experience like scientists, doctors, teachers." The company does not forsee any brand cannibalisation between Mr.White and its Rs 100-crore Henko, with the former eating into Henko's market share.
"The respective brand positioning (Henko, the stain remover, and Mr.White, the dazzling whiteness detergent) and target markets segments are different," remarks Kumar.