As India relaxes lockdown and people get ready to get back to work, demand for Hand Sanitizers set to witness a sharp spike
- • Per LocalCircles survey, 35% consumers still unable to find a hand sanitizer
- • Of those who bought, 62% paid a higher price than one fixed by the Government
- • 37% bought unknown brands as popular brands were stocked out
4th May 2020, New Delhi: With alcohol-based hand sanitizers becoming an important weapon against the spread of Coronavirus, consumers in India and around the world have been queuing up to buy them. Based on the MHA guidelines issued on May 1st, many relaxations have been announced across the country in red, green and orange zones starting May 4th. This would mean that many IT parks, IT enable companies, MSMEs and factories, office etc. will be operational again in green, orange and red zones, leading to people movement from one place to another. This will likely lead to a sharp rise in the demand of hand sanitizers and face masks.
But there has been a question mark on the availability and prices of sanitizers since the COVID-19 outbreak and many cases of hoarding and overpricing came to light. Although the Government was quick to act on them by adding them into Essential Commodities list and fixing a price cap, finding it at the Government mandated price has been a challenge for the consumers.
After conducting the first stage of the survey in the last week of March which showed that 1 in every 2 consumers was unable to find a bottle of hand sanitizer, LocalCircles conducted the second consumer survey on their experience of buying hand sanitizers in the last 7 days, i.e. between 23-30 April. The survey received more than 16,000 responses and brought out the issues that consumers are facing while trying to buy hand sanitizers. The survey shows some improvement but the mass market availability is still not where it needs to be.
The first question asked consumers how have their or their family’s experience been with buying a hand sanitizer last week. 35% said they were not able to buy at all due to no availability while 37% said they had to buy an unknown brand as reputed brands were out of stock. 8% said they were able to buy reputed sanitizers at a general retail store and 14% said they were able to buy reputed brand sanitizers at a chemist. Only 6% said they were able to buy a reputed brand’s sanitizer from an ecommerce app.
Sanitizer availability during COVID-19 Outbreak: 35% of those who wanted to buy a hand sanitizer last week couldn’t find them; Another 37% bought an unknown brand as reputed brands were stocked out
The comparison with the last survey shows that although the percentage of people unable to buy a sanitizer has come down from 50% to 35%, the percentage of people who had to buy unknown & non-trusted brands due to the unavailability of known brands, increased from 26% to 37%. This shows that consumers are so desperate for hand sanitizers that they are buying anything that is available in the market, without being sure of its authenticity. The demand will only rise as lockdown is relaxed and more people step out of their homes for various reasons.
Percentage of consumers looking and able to find Hand Sanitizers rises from 50% to 65% in last 3 weeks
After the Government request, many liquor manufacturers and beauty product manufacturers started making quality hand sanitizers but found it tough to make it available to the consumers due to logistical constraints.
The second question asked consumers how has been their or their family’s experience with prices of sanitizer this week. 34% said they bought it at price higher than the Government mandated price via a general retail store or chemist while 38% said they bought it at the Government mandated price of Rs. 100 for 200 ml at a retail store or chemist. 28% said they bought it at a price higher than the Government mandated price via an ecommerce app.
Sanitizer availability during COVID-19 Outbreak: 62% of those who bought a hand sanitizer last week bought it at a price higher than the Govt mandated price of INR 100 for 200 ml
This means that a total of 62% of those who bought a hand sanitizer last week bought it at a price higher than the Government mandated price of Rs. 100 for 200 ml. The percentage of consumers who bought sanitizers at the Government mandated price increased from 26% to 38%, whereas the ones who bought it at a higher price reduced from 64% to 34% indicating that the addition of sanitizers in Essential Commodities list is working. Consumers have also reported that many retailers are not giving proper bills for these sanitizers of unknown brands even on request.
Percentage of consumers able to find Hand Sanitizers at Government mandated price rises from 26% to 38% in last 3 weeks
As India relaxes lockdown and many more people head out interfacing with each other, they will soon be buying sanitizers. Additional enforcement by the state legal metrology and consumer affairs departments can help ensure that consumers are not overcharged for this essential commodity in times of COVID-19.