Deodorant sales are skyrocketing in India

Let me spray some.
Let me spray some.
Image: Reuters/Fabrizio Bensch
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Smelling and feeling fresh has never been this easy.

A report released by Euromonitor International in May suggests that the market for deodorants in India grew by a massive 177% between 2011 and 2016. The report on beauty and personal care tracked the growth of creams, shampoos, and face washes as well.

In 2011, deodorant sales stood at Rs1,130 crore; by 2016 it had almost tripled to Rs3,130 crore. That’s more than the growth rate of most categories tracked by the research agency. Although the market is still small compared to other beauty and grooming products, companies have already made a killing on bottles of deodorants priced Rs150 and above.

In India, body odour is as reviled as it is ubiquitous. For years, Indian households relied on fragrant talcum powders such as Ponds and Santoor to stay odourless. But young and aspiring Indians, with more money to spare, have increasingly turned to deodorants, that are seen as a cheaper alternative to pricey perfumes. In fact, India’s male grooming market is dominated by deodorants.

Buoyed by the demand, most large consumer good makers, from ITC (Engage) to Marico (Set Wet) to Emami (He) have launched their brands over the last five years, for both men and women, taking on companies such as Nivea, Godrej (Cinthol), and Hindustan Unilever (Axe and Dove).

Even mid-tiered companies have joined the fray. Ahmedabad-based Vini cosmetics, maker of Fogg deodorants, and Kolkata-based McNROE, which sells the Wildstone brand are examples. The newbies have some clever marketing and quirky advertising on their side that has helped them become the top-selling deodorant brands in the country.

But to reach beyond urban markets, where growth is expected to slow down to 5% annually by 2020, deodorant makers must do more, Euromonitor noted. So they are now going mass-market. Some of them are looking at even sub-Rs100 bottles to make them more accessible.