Sanitary Napkins market in India to be worth US$ 631M by 2023

The Indian sanitary market is gradually growing, and access to rural areas with affordable price range would boost its consumption. Construction of cheaper and more small scale manufacturing plants should be encouraged for better market outreach and affordability among the rural public.

  • Definition / Scope
  • Market Overview
  • Top Market Opportunities
  • Market Drivers
  • Market Restraints
  • Technology Trends
  • Pricing Trends
  • Regulatory Trends
  • Market Size and Forecast
  • Distribution Chain Analysis
  • Key Market Players
  • Strategic Conclusion
  • References

Definition / Scope

A thin pad made of cellulose, plastic and cotton, a sanitary pad is vital for maintenance of health and hygiene during a woman’s menstruation. These are readily available in the Indian market in varying ranges of size, absorbency level and prices. Some of the most popular ones include regular, thin, and ultra-thin pads. 

In fact, sanitary napkins have gained much prominence over the years. This can be credited to increased initiatives by the government and NGO entities to educate females about how crucial it is to maintain sanitation during menstrual cycle and how sanitary napkins can help in doing so.

Thus, increasing awareness about personal hygiene among females remains one of the primary factors facilitating the growth of the Indian sanitary napkin market. In addition to this, elevating incomes and the availability of sanitary napkins at an affordable price is another factor boosting the market growth.

Moreover, the manufacturers are also focusing on unique marketing strategies in order to increase their consumer-base. 

Market Overview

Almost 58% women of India use local napkins and sanitary napkins. Overall, although the market of sanitary napkins is expected to undergo growth because of increased governmental measures to promote these products in rural areas, very few women currently use sanitary napkins. Also, this small percentage of usage is limited to the urban population. Basically, cheaper napkins occupy the most market. Also, a large share of the Indian sanitary napkins market goes to a few limited companies.

Despite limited use, the market is expected to reach a value of around US$ 631 Million by 2023, growing at a CAGR of more than 6% during 2018-2023. The government has started to take measures to promote sanitary products in rural areas. Today, sanitary napkins are increasingly getting popular among women. Of course, continuous education and marketing from big international brands have significantly contributed to this penetration.

According to data from BCH (Indian Nonwovens Industry Association), in 2014, the female population among 12-54 was 375 million, and the penetration rate of the sanitary napkins market was only 24%. In 2018, this figure is expected to grow to 42%. Currently, sanitary napkins with fluff pulp as core occupy most of the market share because of its lower price. The market for ultra-thin napkins is expected to increase. 

The urban Indian population is trying to find high-quality hygiene products, however, in poor rural areas, many women still haven’t started to use sanitary napkins. In the past, Indian women used homemade or cloth pads during their menstruation period.

What needs to be noted is that India has invested little in the research and development of sanitary napkins. Today, 89% of India’s sanitary napkin market share goes to international companies like P&G and Johnson & Johnson.

Top Market Opportunities

There are various organizations such as iCare, Saathi pads, ZanaAfrica and others that provide reusable and cheaper sanitary napkins, in order to increase sanitation in rural areas.  This helps to increase health awareness and promote the product among women in the rural areas.

This can be taken as a good market opportunity because on one hand, manufacturers will be increasing their CSR (corporate social responsibility) by increasing awareness on sanitation and on the other hand, this would be a good opportunity to market their own sanitary napkins.

Market Drivers

An upsurge in e-commerce and increasing acceptance of sanitary napkins are some emerging trends acting as growth drivers in the market of sanitary napkins.

Moreover, several factors like growing awareness about feminine hygiene, and the availability of low cost sanitary napkins in the market (as a result of rising disposable incomes which are making sanitary napkins more affordable) are all expected to harness the growth of the market Increased government initiatives to promote sanitation and awareness programs encouraging sanitation are also important growth drivers.

Market Restraints

One major trend that is restraining the growth of sanitary napkins in the market is that so many woman, do not actually have any idea about what material to use to absorb the flow. In fact, according to a study by UNICEF done in 2012, about 75% girls do not have any knowledge about such materials.

Even among the women who are using cloths as absorbents, about 75% girls use cotton cloths during their period. According to the same study by UNICEF, only about 16% use sanitary napkins. Half of the women using absorbents use the same cloth for more than a month (WaterAid).

In rural India, many women and girls use unsanitary materials such as old rags, husks, dried leaves, grass, ash, sand or newspapers because they do not have access to affordable, hygienic and safe products and facilities 

This kind of limited awareness has led to very less or no demand of sanitary napkins in rural India, and as a result shops are not even willing to sell such products.

Technology Trends

The current technology trend of manufacturing sanitary napkins is basically to use large scale and expensive machinery. Resulting from this use of expensive machinery, the current price of sanitary napkins is high. To compensate the cost of expensive machinery which are only available in few leading companies like Procter and Gamble and Johnson and Johnsons, the profit margin is also set high.

Thus, sanitary napkins are often unaffordable to the millions of Indian women living in low-income and underprivileged communities. Therefore, the need of a cost-effective sanitary napkin manufacturing technology through which women can produce and market biodegradable sanitary napkins locally is felt. Such a cost effective manufacturing machine would ensure that even small scale manufacturers could get their hands into the business and supply cheaper sanitary napkins.

On average, a large scale production model costs Rs. 3.5 Crores for an initial investment, which is leading to the current high cost.However, this cost can be reduced by introducing a cheaper and smaller scale production model. This allows small players including Women’s Self Help Groups (SHGs) and budding female entrepreneurs to effectively use low cost, easy-to-use sanitary napkins manufacturing machines.

Pricing Trends

Currently, the sanitary napkins available in the Indian market are yet not affordable to the general rural public.

Even with GST exemption which came into effect on 27th July, 2018, the price of sanitary napkins are not expected to go down significantly. In fact, contrary to the general expectation that sanitary napkin prices would reduce by 12 per cent following the GST exemption, the price reduction would only be marginal in the absence of Input Tax Credit.

Although the exact price reduction is not known, a J&J spokesperson confirmed that the company has rolled out price cuts on sanitary napkins, which was not as high a price reduction as expected. 

At the same time, however, there is still some hope about affordability of sanitary napkins. Launched by the government of India on March 8, 2018, ‘Suvidha’ pads, which are oxo-biodegradable and will be made available in packs of 4. They are priced at Rs. 2.50 per pad. They will be found across 586 Indian districts, at Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Janaushadhi centres.

Also, as a social initiative, the sanitary napkins branded Freedays are sold at Rs6 per pack of six napkins by Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHAs). It retains Re 1 per pack as incentive, and gets a free pack of Freedays every month. The balance Rs5 is to be deposited in the state/district treasury. The scheme took off in 107 districts. 

Regulatory Trends

Although obstructions such as high costs, lack of knowledge and lack of disposal facilities slow down the impact of initiatives, Menstrual Hygiene Scheme (MHS) to provide subsidized sanitary napkins was launched by the health ministry in 2011. It was aimed to reach 15 million girls aged 10 to 19 and in 152 districts across 20 states.

According to the plan, in 107 districts, sanitary napkins were to be supplied by the government and in the remaining 45 districts, self-help groups were to make and sell them. Procurement of sanitary napkins, by either of the above methods, must be at a fixed price of Rs7.50 per pack of six sanitary napkins.

The ministry of drinking water and sanitation issued Menstrual Hygiene Management National Guidelines in December 2015. The guidelines cover the aspects of providing adolescent girls with menstrual hygiene management choices and menstruation hygiene management infrastructure in schools and the safe disposal of menstrual waste.  

Similarly, under the Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan, a centrally sponsored scheme under the Union ministry of human resource development,sanitary pads are provided in schools and girls hostels. Also, females are given separate toilets.

Also, talking about academic regulations, the National Council of Educational Research and Training syllabus on health and physical education for Classes I-XII provides adequate space to menstrual hygiene in school. According to the government, sanitary pad vending machines and napkin incinerators have already been installed in 40 Kendriya Vidyalayas.

Market Size and Forecast

The Indian sanitary napkin market reached a value of nearly US$ 441 Million in 2017. 

Feminine sanitary products account for a significant proportion of the Indian disposable hygiene market. The Indian feminine hygiene product market has reached 22.21 billion Rupees ($340 million) and is expected to reach 34.68 billion Rupees ($522 million) in 2020. Manufacturers should work along both lines—attract young consumers through online purchases while at the same time penetrating small towns and rural markets. 

The market is expected to reach a value of around US$ 631 Million by 2023, growing at a CAGR of more than 6% during 2018-2023. 

Distribution Chain Analysis

Currently, supermarkets, pharmacies and convenience stores are the leading distribution channels of the Indian sanitary napkins market. Also, the market has been segregated on the basis of type as disposable menstrual pads, cloth menstrual pads and biodegradable menstrual pads. A clear dominance is shown by disposable menstrual pads in the market.

Based on region, the majority of the total share is accounted by Maharashtra. Some of the other major markets include Delhi NCR, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Gujarat. The competitive landscape of the market has also been analysed with some of the key players being P&G, Johnson & Johnson, Unicharm and Kimberly-Clark. 

Key Market Players

P&G is one of the largest consumer goods companies in India, which was established in 1964. P&G India now serves over 650 million consumers across India. Its presence pans across the Beauty & Grooming segment, the Household Care segment as well as the Health & Well Being segment, with trusted brands that are household names across India.

These include Vicks, Ariel, Tide, Whisper, Olay, Gillette, Ambipur, Pampers, Pantene, Oral-B, Head & Shoulders, Wella and Duracell. P&G India is committed to sustainable growth in India, and is currently invested in the country via its five plants and over nine contract manufacturing sites, as well as through the 26,000 jobs it creates directly and indirectly.

P&G operates under three entities in India – two listed entities “Procter & Gamble Hygiene and Health Care Limited” and ‘Gillette India Limited’, as well as one 100% subsidiary of the parent company in the U.S. called ‘Procter & Gamble Home Products’. 

Edgewell Personal Care Company is a manufacturer and marketer of personal care products in the wet shave, sun and skin care, feminine care and infant care categories. The Company manages its business in four segments: Wet Shave, Sun and Skin Care, Feminine Care and All Other. Its Feminine Care segment markets its products under the Playtex, Stayfree, Carefree brands. 

Johnson & Johnson manufactures medical device, pharmaceutical and consumer packaged goods. The corporation includes some 250 subsidiary companies with operations in 60 countries and products sold in over 175 countries. Johnson & Johnson’s brands also include numerous household names of first aid supplies and medications. The Band-Aid Brand line of bandages, Johnson’s baby products, Tylenol medications, Neutrogena skin and beauty products, Clean & Clear facial wash and Acuvue contact lenses are some of its well-known consumer products. 

Strategic Conclusion

Despite odds, the perception towards menstrual hygiene and of safety pads is changing. This has led to expansion in the market of safety pads in both urban and rural areas. The market will keep on thriving with increased investments on manufacture and marketing in the future.

The awareness on menstrual hygiene in India is rising and despite little investments in the research and development of sanitary napkins the market is expected to reach a value of around US$ 631 Million by 2023, growing at a CAGR of more than 6% during 2018-2023 and so forth.



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