Forget the mug. Toilet paper is on a roll in India

Wipe right.
Wipe right.
Image: Reuters/Jitendra Prakash
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Indians may slowly be undergoing a whole new round of “toilet training”: Toilet wipes, diapers and sanitary napkins are flying off the shelves in Asia’s third largest economy.

The tissue and hygiene segment in India is estimated to grow at a compounded annual growth rate of 76% till 2020, according to Euromonitor, a market research firm. The market will, thus, grow from the current Rs5,780 crore ($870 million) to over Rs10,000 crore ($1.5 billion) by 2020.

The hygiene segment typically includes products such as cotton buds, diapers, wipes and sanitary protection, while the tissue category covers kitchen towels, facial tissues, and toilet paper, among others.

This growth is being driven by urban consumers whose disposable incomes have increased and who are looking for increased convenience, according to Euromonitor.

Here is how the category—as Euromonitor classifies it—has increased over the years.

“Initially, away-from-home institutions such as restaurants, hotels, offices and hospitals adopted tissue-based products for the convenience of customers, patients and staff. This has now encouraged households to purchase tissue-based products for daily use,” Vishnu Vardhan, a research analyst at Euromonitor said in a statement.

“Furthermore, rural sales of tissue & hygiene (products) are expected to grow. Leading hygiene companies are expected to concentrate on these areas by launching affordable pack sizes and easing availability of products,” Vardhan said.

Diapers and sanitary napkins

A major chunk of the tissue and hygiene market belongs to sanitary protection and diapers. Traditionally, Indian women have used cloth for sanitary purposes. In fact, owing to poverty and ignorance, 70% women in India use rags during their periods. In most cities and towns, though, sanitary pads are increasingly favoured, thanks to the growing awareness created by global brands.

The current size of India’s sanitary protection market is Rs2,221 crore ($334 million), which is estimated to grow by over 50% to Rs3,468 crore ($522 million) by 2020. To increase awareness and demand, companies are tying up with online sellers to attract younger buyers and focusing on smaller towns and rural areas, according to Euromonitor.

Although the potential market for disposable diapers is tremendous—over 26 million babies are born in the country every year—its use remains low. The penetration of baby diapers is only about 3%. Rural India still uses cloth mostly. Euromonitor estimates that the diaper market size will double by 2020.

Here are the the top five tissue and hygiene brands in India by market share.