The Business Of Hand Wash

Handwash Market in India

Hand Wash Market In India:

Hand wash market(close to 300 crore) stands at a fraction of the total soaps market( 3000 crore), but it stands on a high growth( CAGR of 37% in 3 years) when compared to soaps( 2012 stats)

In liquid hand wash category , Dettol holds 50% market share.

In 2012 Dettol was the leader in the hand wash category with a share of 53 per cent. Lifebuoy had a share of 29.1 %. 

Evolution Of Hand Wash Market In India

  • Traditionally we have been washing our hands with bar soap . The need has always been for germ protection and that’s what has been strongly associated by consumers too.
  • In 2007 the size of liquid hand wash market was around Rs. 59 Crores by end of 2007
  • From a low penetration in India (estimates around 10% of all households) for liquid hand wash penetration of liquid hand wash is has gained momentum.
  • Gradually, with liquid hand wash attributes like convenience were brought forward showcasing its importance in our day to day hand washing activities
  • From being perceived as an expensive and low value propositions initially , it has been valued very high on ease of using –from a pump based mechanism to a no touch hand wash ( launched recently)-thanks to strong marketing budgets of the marketing giants.( Unilever, Reckitt Benckiser etc)
  • Slowly the penetration has increased not only in urban households but also in distant villages (One can see the hand wash pumps in restaurants of remote places too). Even though the content might not be the same but overall thought process process has sunk in.
  • To bring down the overall cost, refill packs have started gaining momentum amongst the consumer base owing to coupled purchase with dispensing format and gaining on cost front when buying for refilling. (200 ml to 5 litrs)
  • In 2005, the dispensing pack dominated the market with over 60% contribution (2005). Over the last three years, the refill segment has flourished – as regular consumers re-purchase the refill pack after the pack is over.A lot of brands have entered into the segment via the Pump pack. However, the awareness for refill packs is still low. A large base of consumers still re-purchases the Pump pack instead of using a refill pack.

Main Players in the hand wash market:

  • Lifebuoy
  • Palmolive
  • Dettol
  • Savlon
  • Fen
  • Chandrika
  • Santoor


  1. Initially the soaps were always preferred s the most effective medium to wash hands because of cost effectiveness but now the trend has moved toward the liquid soaps being available to consumers and is becoming an important role in their life.
  2.  Strong awareness amongst people towards maintaining hygiene
  3. Schools have come forward in providing lessons to the children to maintain hand hygiene habits
  4. There was a time when most of the sales was contributed by Institutions( Offices etc) but now the trend has moved a step further by rapidly growing in households
  5. With the recent Swach Bharat Abhiyaan, the drive to spread the message is becoming stronger with many brands actively utilizing the platform to get their brand message across to the consumers.Example : Dettol

Major Marketing Campaigns  by major brands:

  1. Hand Wash and Diarrhea: Regular hand washing is the first line of defense from preventable diseases like Diarrhea.
  •  Diarrhea is the leading cause of death amongst children in India.

HELP A CHILD REACH 5 (Lifebuoy campaign)  is strongly directed towards developing strong hygiene habits

Lifebuoy-Help a Child reach 5


  1.  Every day, more than 2,000 kids around the world die from preventable illnesses like diarrhea.
  2. Tragically, every minute a parent loses a child when simple hand washing with soap could break the chain of infection.

Banega Swach India Campaign:

A trio of Reckitt Benckiser + NDTV + Facebook has recently launched a 5 year ambitious program to raise the awareness about hygiene and its importance in India. The campaign will also support the infrastructure for construction and maintenance of toilets. A sum of 100 crore is planned from RB for next 5 years.


Not only the major brands are getting benefited but overall hand wash market is also growing owing to enhanced awareness and a power of heightened overall voice in the marketplace.

Growth Drivers of Business of Handwash: 

  1. Increasing awareness about personal hygiene and sanitation( Swine flu).
  2. Government efforts in bringing sanitation issues to various schools in India ( along with private partners)
  3. Strong promotional  drive from major brands:
  • Celebrating Global Hand Washing day in schools : It is celebrated every year on October 15 , where each year approximately 200 million people are involved in celebrations across over 100 countries globally. This day is celebrated to bring home the point of hand washing with soaps. Many schools celebrate it to co-relate with the overall cleanliness and hygiene drive.
  • Major brands like Dettol organizing  workshops in schools across India, to educate students on proper ways of hand washing, bathing and surface cleaning. With this initiative, Reckitt Benckiser plans to reach around 8 lakh students in 1,600 schools by next year.  
  • Unique promotional Ideas : To drive home the message of hand hygiene before eating , Lifebuoy ran a unique ROTI REMINDER campaign in the  world’s largest religious festival in India-Kumbh Mela-Haridwar ( a place where hygiene will definitely be tossed off ). Lifebuoy stamped  its hand washing message onto millions of rotis at Kumbh Mela, t. It got  consumer’s attention at the exact time when hand washing is critical to help stop the spread of germs carrying preventable diseases. 

Roti reminder Lifebuoy


  • New product delivery innovation:

Reckitt, for instance, introduced a No-Touch Hand Wash last year, a first in the category, to drive home better hygiene standards. This recent product innovations has entered into a different niche through some product technological advancement adding a different layer to the overall hygiene parameters.Dettol liquid hand wash -No touch

The business of hand wash is certainly increasing and gaining a great momentum, and the consumption( business) starts from the early morning and continues till we take a sleep( handwash post dinner), but the overall purpose of driving the cleanlinessdrive is becoming better day by day.

By: Kumud Kandpal


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