Rediscovering personal hygiene: small-town teens leading change in sensibilities and needs of Tier II, III cities
As the dialogue around sanitation and personal hygiene issues comes to the fore, India is rediscovering its aspirations for a cleaner and healthier lifestyle. As a result, people are becoming more aware of the need to discuss hygiene with their children, especially teenagers who are going through a massive transformation, both physically and emotionally.
Puberty not only hits them with skin and hair problems but also affects their health and confidence. Against such a backdrop, it is heartening to see parents investing in the wellbeing of the younger generations, who will grow up to run the country.
The first step to their well-being and happiness is imparting awareness about their personal hygiene needs. While in an urban setup one can assume that parents would be more at ease to communicate the same to their children, the scenario might be different in semi-urban, rural areas. Yet, the perception is fast changing as people in Tier-II and III cities are becoming more aware and conscious of their personal hygiene, and the torchbearers of this realisation are the small-town youth.
Small town youth exposure, awareness, and needs
Rapid technological advancements and deeper internet penetration in the country have led to the availability of affordable smartphones and data in even the remotest of areas. India is home to the second-highest internet user base in the world; studies report that behind this feat are the youth, particularly those of semi-urban and rural India. These areas have witnessed a growth of 35 percent in 2018, which was five times the seven percent seen in urban India.
The younger generation spends a good portion of their day online, mainly on social media sites like Facebook and Instagram. They follow relatable influencers on these sites, who are exposing them to new trends and driving explosive change in their outlook. This has opened countless avenues for communication and gathering information for small-town teenagers more than anyone else. Being connected to this network, teenagers in Tier-II and III cities are reviewing their consumption patterns and propelling new wellness needs.
Their sensibilities are evolving rapidly. Their idea of grooming, which was earlier mostly superficial, is expanding to how they feel about their bodies. They are seeing the relevance of safe personal hygiene and wellness solutions as a part of their daily regime of deodorising, skincare, oral care, intimate hygiene. This is not only helping them cope with the effects of puberty, but also feel truly good and confident about themselves. Actively absorbing the latest world trends, they are recognising the importance of making healthy choices and even encouraging older generations to do the same.
Ecommerce platforms facilitating change
Seeing the potential these aspirations hold, various ecommerce platforms, which were earlier limited to the metros, have expanded their offerings to smaller cities. This has opened to the small town teens a wide range of products and brands to choose from. Online shopping is, thus, no more limited to Tier-I cities but has spread deep into these newfound markets. This is evident from ecommerce platforms’ reports on rising sales from these regions. For instance, Myntra, a leading ecommerce platform, has reported that almost 56 percent of its festive sales were from smaller cities. Personal care brands offering articles like chemical-free deodorants, facial cleansers, and all-natural intimate washes are also making way through small cities.
These trends and the fact that India is home to the largest youth population aged between 10 and 24 years, point to the prospect of disruptive growth in the personal care sector; reinforcing the reports that it is set to reach $25 million (2020) from $10 million (2015).
Better connectivity, more awareness and higher purchasing power of people in small cities are powering teens’ newfound identity as consumers. This is giving rise to a democratic and more accessible marketplace, which in turn is making way for equitable development across the country.
(Edited by Evelyn Ratnakumar)
(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)