“Made in Germany, Made in Italy, Made in China… almost every other country’s product is now available in India. Thanks to Indian passion for international makes and preference for ‘everything foreign’. Yet standing tall in this largely supplier-driven market are the Made in India products in the cleaning segment that have evolved against stiff competition to meet the demand for products made outside India. Mohana M discusses consumer trends, challenges and competence of products manufactured in India in the wake of the Make in India mission of the Indian government.”
India has its unique consumer pattern. Demand for cleaning products of “international-make at Indian prices” or “Indian-make of international quality” has seen many global players and Indian manufacturers burn their fingers while establishing themselves in the cleaning industry. Broadly, consumers could be categorised into “those who want superior quality products for which they rely on products manufactured in Europe and those who want cheap quality products at lower prices for which they rely on China,” says Anjana Vij, Director & CEO of Kibble Enterprises, one of the leading manufacturers and exporter of cleaning tools.
“Yes, imported goods have always fascinated Indians,” says Nadeem Siddiqui, CEO, Altret Industries Pvt. Ltd, Gujarat-based manufacturer of cleaning chemicals. “But in the case of hygiene and cleaning chemicals, there is a difference in the consumption pattern. In India, it is only top 20-25% consumers are being catered by MNCs through imported products, while, the remaining 75% market is handled by Indian companies or local manufacturer,” states Nadeem.
Another factor governing Indian preferences is the availability of cheap labour against investing in mechanised cleaning, observes Varun Karthikeyan, MD-Roots Multiclean Ltd, one of the pioneers of cleaning equipment manufacturers in India. “Initially, it was an uphill task to sell the concept, let alone the product.”
Categorising further, facility service companies form a major part of the consumer segment, followed by commercial spaces and industrial establishments.
Manufacture of Made in India
Meeting the demand of two extreme sets of consumer preferences, Indian manufacturers have either evolved indigenously through R&D or through technology tie up with international companies. There are producers who import certain parts & components and assemble products besides a few who have set up manufacturing facilities in China and are importing to India.
Some of the market forces that have been working against the local manufacturers and are discouraging international manufacturers in setting shop in India are far and wide.
Costing & Chinese factor
“Brand conscious buyers are few but the market is extremely price sensitive. This means the client is quite willing to compromise on quality, unless she/he is informed of the long terms cost benefits. A lot of time actually goes in convincing the buyer of the merits of higher quality which can sometimes mean a higher price,” laments Samarth Bhatia, ASM-Cleaning Equipment, Santoni Electric Co. Pvt. Ltd., one of the oldest and leading cleaning equipment manufacturers in India.
The influence of Chinese cost factor has had a cascading affect not just on the consumer preferences but on the manufacturing end too. “Chinese products are all over the world and we face stiff competition over price. However, we are able to compete with superior quality products at affordable prices for the Indian customer,” adds Naresh Chauhan, Director-KC Green Revolution Pvt. Ltd, a Delhi-based exporter of waste receptacles.
“Due to low volumes, manufacturers are forced to use more conventional skill-intensive techniques, which may not convert into a quality product if the relevant skilled labour is not available. Some of parts cost could turn higher,” explains Samarth.
“However, the availability of basic raw materials in abundance, like plastics, aluminium, steel, rubber, etc., and the high level of skill in terms of mold development and product designing makes India a suitable manufacturing hub. As far as production costs are concerned, it is much cheaper here than in Europe or even China for that matter,” adds Debtosh Chatterjee, CEO & MD, CCASPL, a Kolkata-based facility services provider.
When it comes to products like gloves and tools, the equations in manufacturing differ. Explains Philip C Jacob, Director-Kurian Abraham Pvt. Ltd, India’s largest latex concentrate processor & latex gloves producer “As far as gloves manufacturing is concerned, it is a challenge competing against cheap imported gloves coming in from China, Sri Lanka and Malaysia. The Indian market for household and industrial gloves is very price sensitive and not at all quality conscious. As a result, a lot of low quality and B grade gloves are being imported into India. And sadly, the end consumers seem just fine with the lower quality product as long as the price is met.