Sales of hand sanitisers soar 100x as coronavirus fears continue to spread

The coronavirus pandemic has led to a sharp spike in the demand for hand sanitisers. Many businesses are coming up with new launches and, according to one estimate, the market is projected to cross $2 billion by 2025.

The coronavirus pandemic has put 199 countries across the world on high alert. So far, the disease has claimed over 25,000 lives and more than 5.5 lakh cases have been reported from across the globe.

In India, 19 lives have been lost, over 800 people have been infected, and the number of cases is increasing by the day. 

One of the impacts of the spread of the deadly virus is the sudden shift in the purchasing behaviour of customers. In India, there is a sudden alarm in the approach of consumers towards self-sanitisation.

This change in the behavioural pattern among the consumers does not come as a surprise. What is surprising is to see that sanitisation and personal hygiene, which should have been a part of our daily habits, were waiting for a crisis of this magnitude to happen.

With the outbreak of coronavirus, the demand for hand-sanitisers, which is an antiseptic agent applied for preventing diseases caused by the transmission of germs and infections through hands, has seen a multifold growth.

In order to protect themselves from germs and the virus, people have started adopting precautionary measures in a big way to prevent contracting any disease and hand-sanitisers are crucial in preventing the transmission of the virus. 

The hand-sanitisers which were not usually seen in schools, colleges, medical stores, restaurants, bars, shopping malls, supermarkets, and other public places, have now become a common sight. Salons, offices, and even the street vendors are now seen using hand-sanitisers as a precautionary step. 

The surge in demand

The first case of COVID-19 was reported in China in November 2019 after which it precariously travelled to Italy, Iran, the United States, and almost every other country, including India in January 2020. 

“Hand-sanitiser was a sleepy product in India until just three months ago and now you see every second person asking for this product,” says Aishwarya Sawarna Nir, Director, Aishwarya Healthcare Group. 

It didn’t take long for these hand-sanitisers to go out of stock from the markets. Talking to SMBStory, a pharmacist from Kanpur says, 

“Every second person who comes to our medical store asks for a hand-sanitiser. We have seen its demand going up 100x and this is not the case in just our store, it is happening everywhere else in the country.”

This sudden rise in demand has made hand-sanitisers go out of stock from the market. Consumers are even hoarding hand-sanitisers as it has assumed the role of a ‘first-aid’ product, fearing non-availability in the market which in turn has spiked its prices. 

According to various media reports, a 50ml bottle of hand-sanitiser, which is priced at Rs 60, is being sold by retailers at double the price. 

Today, many people are carrying hand-sanitisers with them when they step out of their homes. The fear of coming in contact with an infected person has surged the demand for the product. According to the Industry Acr report, the hand-sanitiser market is projected to cross $2 billion by 2025. 

Business opportunity for many

The spike in the demand for hand-sanitisers has created business opportunities for many entrepreneurs. In an interaction with SMBStory, Vikas Bagaria, Founder, Pee Safe says,

“Taking into account the present crisis, we began production of alcohol-based hand sanitisers RahoSafe in February 2020 and our first line of production came out on March 2, 2020. It was surprising that in just 18 days, we clocked our last year’s annual turnover of Rs 6 crore. This is the kind of demand this product has created for itself in the present scenario.” 

RahoSafe received around 40,000 orders in less than 24 hours. Vikas says people were hoarding products, and in order to serve consumers in the best possible way, the company has halted online sale and has restricted the product to offline sales only. 

Amid the crisis and the growing demand for hand-sanitisers, wellness and beauty centre chain, VLCC Health Care Limited also introduced this product claiming to have 72 percent alcohol content. Jayant Khosla, Managing Director and Group Head, VLCC tells SMBStory,

“We have diverted our production capacity in our GMP-certified personal care product manufacturing plant in Haridwar to make hand-sanitisers, a week ago. We are making every possible effort to ensure speedy and consistent delivery of the product across the country to pharmacies and stores selling essential items. These products are stamped with the retail price as mandated by the prevailing statutory regulations.”

To prevent hoarding of hand-sanitisers and to ensure smooth sales and availability for all, the government recently put a cap on the prices. Vikas says,

“Government has put a cap of Rs 30 for 60 ml bottle and now we are selling with just Rs 2 to Rs 3 profit. With the lockdown imposed, our production has stopped but the Haryana government is now issuing passes to produce essential items. Our production will resume in the next two-three days. We have collaborated with the Haryana government and are selling our products to hospitals and medical stores.”

One of India’s largest IVF manufacturer, Aishwarya Healthcare has also acquired a licence from the state FDA to begin production of hand-sanitisers in their Sikkim unit.

“We are soon to begin production of hand-sanitisers with WHO-approved formula and aim to bridge the gap created in the market,” Aishwarya tells SMBStory

The road ahead

As many entrepreneurs have stepped into manufacturing a product different from their mainstream business, there are questions being raised on whether they will continue the business in the future. 

“After World War I and World War II, women stepped out of their homes. Their lifestyle changed and since then the pattern has remained the same. They didn’t go back and confine themselves within the four walls. Similarily, the demand for hand-sanitisers will stay. It is sad that people waited for such a severe crisis to become aware of personal hygiene,” says Aishwarya.

Vikas says that since he came into the business in 2013, there was no visible awareness on personal hygiene among the general public. In December 2019, when cases of coronavirus were not reported globally, the personal hygiene market could be rated as 1 on a scale of 10, and today, it is 10 on 10. 

“At this point of time, people have become so aware that even after the threat is gone, the demand will still be there, at least seven on 10”, believes Vikas.

(Edited by Javed Gaihlot) 


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