Et tu! HUL and P&G; FMCG firms bring pods to Indian households but with a twist

While a kg of detergent powder costs Rs 160-200 coming to Rs 5-7 per wash, the per wash cost for pods/shots is almost five times at Rs 22-24

Detergent Pods, Laundry Pods
Only 19% of Indians use liquid detergents for washing machines whereas 40% still prefer to use powders

From sleeping pods to ear pods and now detergent pods have been added to the list of variety. A single-use detergent capsule, pods/shots have been designed for stain removal, cleaning and fabric care created for washing machines by brands starting from Ariel, Tide to Surf Excel. “These single-use laundry capsules come pre-dosed with multiple concentrate liquid detergents. They have a multi-chamber structure, which completely dissolves in stages during the wash cycle. We introduced Ariel and Tide Pods in India last year and have already received a good response. A Pod is also a highly compact laundry product and thus has a lower carbon footprint,” Sharat Verma, chief marketing officer, P&G India and vice president, fabric care, told BrandWagon Online.

With eyes on premium consumers, pods/shots are currently being promoted across digital platforms. For example, these brands are using platforms such as Instagram to create awareness among consumers. “One of the emerging consumer needs in home care is high efficacy with great convenience. The target consumer segment is the washing machine owner who is looking for perfectly laundered clothes without the hassle of using multiple products. As Smart Shots is a new format, we will need to strike the right balance of building awareness and educating the consumers on both usage and the benefits,” Prabha Narasimhan, executive director and VP, home care, Hindustan Unilever Ltd, said. Moreover, as part of its distribution plan for Surf Excel Smart Shots, Hindustan Unilever (HUL), has ensured that the product is available across a range of touchpoints such as e-commerce, modern trade, and premium grocers besides its D2C platform, Ushop.

According to industry estimates, the laundry detergent market in India is about Rs 28,000 crore, of which liquid detergents account for Rs 800-900 crore. Only 19% of Indians use liquid detergents for washing machines whereas 40% still prefer to use powders. The fabric softeners market is even smaller at about Rs 115 crore. While stain removers market stands roughly at Rs 415 crore owing to their large scale advertising.

Interestingly, while a kilogram of laundry detergent powder costs Rs 160-200 coming to Rs 5-7 per wash, the per wash cost for pods/shots is almost five times more at Rs 22-24. Surf Excel Smart Shots are priced at Rs 408 for a pack of 17, while Ariel Pods which are available in two sizes – 18 and 32 count packs priced at Rs 432 and Rs 704, respectively. According to Rajat Wahi, partner, Deloitte India, the Indian consumer is very price sensitive in this category. “Brands will need to talk about the new category from the perspective of convenience and reduction in wastage since it’s a more controlled usage, unlike powders. While it’s still early days for consumers’ willingness to pay a premium for eco-friendly products across categories, these brands still need to build that narrative into the overall messaging,” he said, adding that more volumes are likely to come from metropolitan and tier 1 cities.

For Karthik Srinivasan, independent communications consultant, the launch of Pods/Shots comes as an added convenience as more people are at home trying new things during the pandemic. “These brands could try the direct to consumer (DTC) model instead of retailing it in stores and could also do a subscription-based model as these products are needed on a monthly basis. It is a chance for detergent majors to have a direct dialogue with consumers,” he stated. The subscription model, if operated properly, could provide visibility to these products initially in addition to a new revenue stream.

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