Mumbai-based Ethos Corp. ventured into hygiene products in 1995 and began supplying imported jumbo paper rolls for the tissue paper industry in India. Says Dinesh Nambrath, Director: “We focused on the importance of tissue as part of hygiene requirement. As the industry grew, people began to understand the advantages of using good quality tissue paper. It was a phase when we first saw facial tissue boxes being placed on the dash boards of cars.
“Consumption increased and prices dropped, making it competitive and affordable. But six years back, we withdrew, as many unrecognised brands hit the market, tissue boxes were sold at traffic signals and quality tissue papers reached the last lap.”
Ethos continued its quest for innovative and quality hygiene products, especially utility products with high mass appeal. “We identified the German company, KALLE, one of the largest independent manufacturers of sponge cloth. Used for wiping, sponge cloth has the properties of a normal sponge that absorbs water and a cloth to wipe. In India, used rug or old cloths were used for wiping and cleaning. In Indian homes, ideally, water is used for any kind of cleaning and these cloths hardly absorb water. So sponge cloth seemed an ideal option. Seeing the potential of the product in the market we launched KALLE sponge cloth in India in 2001.”
Initially, says Dinesh Nambrath, there was a problem with determining the price for this product as people had never seen something like this before in the Indian market. “We began with a trial quantity, which we sold free of cost through our channel partner. It helped us identify the price of the product. The MRP of the product used to be the cost of the product. We worked on the pricing as the volume of the product increased in the market.”
Today, demand exceeds supply and “we are facing a shortage in the market for sponge cloth”. For orders placed, there is a minimum of four months lead time for delivery. The demand has grown manifold and new brands have entered this market, using KALLE sponge cloth. The sponge cloth is available in different colours enabling colour coding in critical areas like hospitals and food centres. “We are supplying to outlets like KFC & Pizza Hut.”
The sponge cloth has a capacity to absorb five litres of water per square metre. It can be machine washed like a normal cloth and the lifespan of the product depends on its usage. It is 100% natural product, bio-degradable and eco-friendly.
“In a survey few years back, we found that abrasive material like scrubber pads and scouring material available for cleaning in India is not of very good quality. The users too were not well-informed about quality abrasives. We tied up with Italy-based CORRAZI Fibre s.r.l. and launched the abrasive range at the Clean India Pulire 2007. We now supply abrasive pads, floor pads for machines and other related abrasives for institutional and industrial use.”
The quest continues, as Ethos is seriously looking at washroom hygiene product segment as an expansion plan.