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Niine to disrupt sanitary market with affordable pads

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MUMBAI: It may seem unlikely to many that a monthly phenomenon, which lasts for five days on an average, could fuel a billion dollar market. But, brace yourself, as the global feminine hygiene products market is expected to grow over $36 billion in the next six years.

However, India only comprises 1.5 per cent of this market that largely sells sanitary napkins while products like tampons and menstrual cups are still alien here. The sanitary napkin market is really small at the moment with Whisper and Stayfree dominating the market with 50 per cent and 35 per cent market share respectively.

Bollywood actor Akshay Kumar tried starting a conversation about the need to use sanitary pads in his movie Padman but that didn't seem to move a needle! Awards and Box office collection don’t often lead to awareness.

To state some facts, on an average, India has over 35,50,00,000 menstruating women and girls in India of which 71 per cent have no knowledge of menstruation before their first period.

The use of sanitary napkins in India is still low as only 18 per cent female use sanitary napkins and 88 per cent predominantly use alternatives such as an old cloth, rags, hay, sand or ash.

Padman, inspired by Tamil Nadu’s Arunachalam Murugananthanam, who pioneered low-cost sanitary napkins for women, led to the launch of Niine sanitary napkins in partnership with Uttar Pradesh government. With an initial investment of Rs 80 crore, the company manufactures and sells sanitary pads in rural India for as low as Rs 25 for seven pads which is the lowest in India.

With only one manufacturing unit in Gorakhpur, UP, the company is optimistic to overthrow the market leaders in tier II and tier III towns with its low cost product. This may actually come true as the price point of market leaders Whisper and Stayfree products is still higher at Rs 30 for 7 pads.

Cost of Menstruation In India

 

Brand

Price Per      Pack Of 7

Quantity Per Cycle 

 Monthly

 (1 Cycle)

1 Year

(12 Cycles)

5 Years 

(60 Cycles)

Lifetime

 (420 Cycles)

NIINE 

Rs 25

10 Pads 

Rs 35 

Rs 420

Rs 2,135

Rs 14,700

Whisper 

Rs 29

10 Pads 

Rs 40

Rs 480

Rs 2,400

Rs 16,800

StayFree 

Rs 30

10 pads 

Rs 43

Rs 516

Rs 2,580

Rs 18,060

Our neighbouring country, China, has the same population as India (over 1.35 Billion) but its sanitary napkin market is worth Rs 6,500 crore annually whereas India stands at only Rs 4,000 crore. Since only 18 per cent female uses sanitary napkins in India, the scope here is humongous.

Even though the market penetration is quite low in India, the industry has been growing at a steady 25 per cent Y-O-Y and Nine aims to become a Rs 5,000 crore brand in the next five years.

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The name Niine comes from nine months of pregnancy every woman is likely to go through.

One of the biggest drawbacks of sanitary pads and the reason why women (especially in smaller towns) refrain from using pads and would rather use cloth or ash is disposal. Sanitary pads usually don't come with a disposable bag and throwing it away just by itself or wrapped in a paper is inconvenient and often embarrassing. Manufacturers don't include disposable bags as it comes as an extra cost for them. Niine pads claim to have addressed the issue of disposable bags and come with seven disposable bags.

Even though the company was launched only in May 2018, founder Amar Tulsiyan expects to capture10-15 per cent of the market share by 2021 and is on track with a projection of Rs 240 crore sales by 2020.

The company started its first phase of operations in Jharkhand, Bihar, UP, Delhi, NCR and West Bengal and wants to cover the rest of North and South India in the second phase of distribution. Niine products are also available on e-commerce website Amazon along with modern trade outlets like Big Bazaar. It is also negotiating with retail outlet Spencers.

While Nine fulfils the 3Ps of marketing, the fourth “P” is the most crucial one – promotion. Promotion is nothing else but creating awareness about your product. But how does one create awareness in smaller towns where mobile penetration is still abysmal and television ads don't work. Solution? Word of mouth and free samples! The company has tied up with several gynaecologists and doctors to create awareness about the product and hygienic sanitary pads along with school seminars and sessions.

Additionally, the brand will launch a dedicated mobile app to track periods. Tulsiyan said, “We will develop a mobile app for period tracker in English, Hindi and other regional languages along with a blog on information about periods and cures for period pain. This will help us in better customer engagement.”

Since fluffy pads capture 70 per cent of the market in India, it will be the company’s core focus for the next few years. The company will also launch its premium product ultra thin napkins by October 2018 to target the urban consumer.

With competition from local vendors and multinational players like Whisper and Stayfree, Niine will really have to up its ante to make a dent in the market.

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