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Rediff.com  » Business » Now, a super premium soap at Rs 630!

Now, a super premium soap at Rs 630!

Last updated on: May 9, 2011 12:51 IST

Now, a super premium soap at Rs 630!

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Mahesh Kulkarni in Mysore

India's cricket heartthrob Mahendra Singh Dhoni may have stumped Karnataka Soaps and Detergents Ltd by not turning up for an advertisement shoot, but instead of nursing a heart ache, the maker of the cult Mysore Sandal soap has moved on and charted out its own global strategy.

Clearly, this state PSU will not throw the baby with the bathwater!

The company, known for its soap based on pure sandalwood oil is all set to launch its own super premium toilet soap - Mysore Sandal Millennium - for the uber luxe set in June this year.

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Image: Company is known for its soap based on pure sandalwood oil.

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The soap is likely to be positioned in the price range of Rs. 500-630, which is 10-12 times more than the most expensive soap available in India.

The other expensive soap brand sold in India is Mysore Sandal Gold, priced at Rs. 60 for a 75-gram bar.

The nearest competition to it is Hindustan Unilever's Dove, which is priced below it.
"KS&DL is already the only company to sell premium soaps in the country.

"Now we are launching super premium soap for the first time in India. Our aim is to compete with international players like Hermes of France," company sources close to the development told Business Standard on condition of anonymity.

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Image: Other expensive soap brand sold in India is Mysore Sandal Gold.

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The toilet soap market in India is divided into four price segments - premium, popular, discount and economy.

KS&DL is present in the premium soap category with a bouquet of a dozen soaps.

The premium soap category in India is estimated at over 15 per cent of the total soap market at about Rs. 10,000 crore (Rs. 100 billion).

Other soaps in the premium category are Dove, Vivel, Mysore Sandal Gold and Lux.

The 91-year old PSU, with a turnover of Rs. 200 crore (Rs. 2 billion), holds 7 per cent share in the premium soap market.

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Image: Toilet soap market is divided into four price segments.

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With the launch of Mysore Sandal Millennium soap, KS&DL, which is known world over for its pure sandalwood oil based toilet soaps, hopes to further enhance its market share in the luxury bath soap market.

Many doubt if KS&DL has the necessary bandwidth to pull this off.

"I have my own doubts about how well KS&DL will manage to sell a luxury soap in the Indian and international markets.

"Do they have the marketing budget and distribution strength?" said Anand Dikshit, executive director, corporate finance and investment banking, PwC.

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Image: Company hopes to further enhance its market share.

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Chitrangda Kapur, analyst with Angel Broking, acknowledges that Mysore Sandal Gold is the only premium soap in the country that is ahead of competition.

"KS&DL is the only soap maker that uses pure sandalwood oil, which is good for skin.

"While HUL's Dove, which uses mostly moisturisers, comes below Mysore Sandal."

KS&DL is test marketing 'Millennium' in Karnataka and aims to launch the soap in June this year.

It has tested the soap in France for dermatological safety studies and Corneometry and Trans Epidermal Water Loss test as per international standards.

'Millennium' has been developed by KS&DL at its in-house research and development wing over the last two years.

The soap is developed using natural Mysore sandalwood oil as a cosmetic and therapeutic ingredient offered to the customers on par with REACH, a European agency to certify safe use of chemicals, and FDA standards.

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Image: It is test marketing Millennium in Karnataka.

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The soap is derived from pure vegetable oil base, added with conditioners, moisturisers, Vitamin E, Jajoba-Mimosa-Sunflower seed waxes, Shea-butter, almond oil, hydrolysed milk protein, stabilising agents etc, enriched with pure and natural Mysore sandalwood oil based fragrance added with natural essential oils Vetivert, Guaicwood, Patchouli, Geranium, Petitgrain, Orange, Cedarwood, Palmrosa, clove among others.

"We have incurred an expenditure of Rs. 7-8 lakh per tonne for this soap. We have used some of the best perfumes apart from our own Mysore sandalwood oil," company sources said.

The company has also designed a special packaging for the soap.

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Image: Mysore is famous for soaps based on sandal oil.

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It will be stretch-wrapped in polyfilm to retain the precious fragrance and visibility of the product. It will be packed in unique carton, with self-locking flip lid at the top.

"We studied some of the expensive soaps available internationally, like Hermes of France, which is sold at Rs. 1,400 per piece in India, before designing our new soap.

"We also engaged a Paris-based firm for carrying out the test there," company sources said.

Apart from 'Millennium', KS&DL is also planning brand and product extensions through new launches of shampoos, shikakai soap and body wash this year.


Image: Company is also planning brand and product extensions.

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