Incredible India – Massive potential untapped – Part 1

India has been dubbed ‘the powerhouse’ of the future.  It is the second most populated country in the world and is projected to be the third largest economy in the world by 2050. Bearing these facts in mind, what is the potential for the cleaning industry in India and is it time for UK exporters to make a move?  Ceris Burns, international marketing specialist for the cleaning industry speaks with Indian cleaning industry leaders to gain an insight into this rapidly growing market. This is part one of a two part article – part 2 will feature in the February issue of Cleaning & Maintenance.

What opportunity does the Indian cleaning industry hold for UK exporters?
Sources estimate that the Indian cleaning market is currently worth 1bn Euros.  The market is very much in its infancy (just 10-15 years old) and is currently enjoying an impressive 40% growth year on year.  Market players believe that the industry’s future is blindingly bright and expect growth rates to reach 50%+ and to stay there for the next 5 to 10 years as a minimum. Additional growth will in part be driven by new entrants bringing the latest technologies and by building awareness of the need for and benefits of, efficient and professional cleaning. India is hungry to professionalise this industry and wants access to the latest products and services.

Commenting on this point Pradeep Mehra CEO and managing director of Walsons HR Solutions said:  “It’s the right time to come to the Indian market as there are very few service orientated companies over here.  Overseas players can bring the service focused mindset and expertise which local companies are looking for and would very much welcome.”

Accelerated market development is evidenced in the number of five star hotels and shopping malls that have sprung up recently – Just ten years ago these were non-existent. The facilities available in airport washrooms have also improved significantly. 

Which cleaning products and services are in most demand?
Hydros Jassem managing director of Oxygen Powered Fragrance Technologies explained that all manner of cleaning products are being sought.  He said: “Everything from cleaning chemicals and bio cleaners to machines and washroom products are in demand.  Companies are looking for broader choice and better quality across the board.“

What are the biggest differences between the Indian and European cleaning markets?
Hydros Jassem continued: “India is at least 20 years behind!  Cleaning is still a relatively new industry in India and systems are just not in place.  This poses a big challenge to educate the market. It means that it’s not easy to sell cleaning products and services in India but if you get in and build brand loyalty now, you will reap the fruits of your efforts in the future.

Customers need to be taught which cleaning products are available and to understand the benefits of using them within their facilities.  Cleaning operatives also need training so they have the skills to use this equipment and products effectively. Until recently elbow grease was the norm in India.  Mechanisation is now gradually being introduced as people learn that it can be more efficient and effective than manual work. Law and culture also dictate differences here. With respect to washroom facilities for example, there is no law in India to ensure the provision of feminine hygiene disposal units so very few washrooms have them.  Toilet tissue is also not widely installed.  In fact ninety percent of the population doesn’t use paper. This is because traditionally Indians have used water to clean instead of paper. To us water means hygiene and cleanliness but paper doesn’t.  Some high class establishments now install toilet paper but it will never totally replace water due to cultural preferences.”

Does business potential and attitude vary across the different regions of India?
Rakesh Malhotra head of business development at Forbes DMS commented: “Typically the market is split into North, East, South and Western regions.  The North has more spending power and is currently the largest market while the South holds more growth potential as it is home to the big cities.”  It was also noted that attitudes to business vary by region.  For example in the South and West, decision makers tend to be more organised and work to commercial timeframes, while in the North, they are all talk and little action and show less respect for timeframes.

To discuss how your company can take advantage of opportunities in India email Ceris at ceris@cbimarketing.com

As featured in C&M magazine January 2011.