Stories by Princewill Ekwujuru

Despite the econom-ic contraction which has reduced purchasing power of consumers, the Deodorant and Antiperspirant segment of the Beauty and Personal care market has continued to grow in leaps and bounds.

The factors driving growth in the sub-sector are urbanisation, the growing young population, and humid weather which has resulted in high level of perspiration.

The other factors include the interest of younger people to boost their confidence and appear trendy, increased product availability to meet growing demand, and the fast growth of modern retail channels and local stores.

To gain market share, the brands have adopted a combination of relentless consumer engagement and aggressive advertising, promotions and in-store consumer sampling, mainly in supermarkets, to  boost sales.

As a result of these strategies, the brands have continued to register positive retail value growth, with a wide range of product type which include deodorant creams, roll-ons, sprays (antiperspirant), deodorant sticks and wipes.

Difference between Roll-on deodorants and Antiperspirants

Deodorant stops the smell, and Antiperspirant the sweat. The armpits stink because of apocrine sweat glands.

These glands are all over the skin but are highly concentrated in the underarm. Apocrine glands excrete fats and proteins which feed bacteria and create an odour.

Deodorants work by targeting those bacteria. Many deodorants contain a chemical called triclosan.

It makes your skin too salty or acidic to support bacteria. It will keep you dry, by keeping the bacteria under control.

Findings by Vanguard  Companies and Markets, C&Mshow that there are hundreds of deodorants and antiperspirant brands fiercely competing for market share in Nigeria.

The interesting thing about these brands is that the same manufacturers produce them.

For instance, the Roll-on deodorant category include Nivea, Rexona, Sure, Enchanteur, Garnier, Old Spice, Chill Pill, Dove, Pixy, Lynx, Secret, Chamomile, Degree, Malizia and others. In the antiperspirants category is Teen Spirit, Forever Aloe ever-shield, Lynx, Secret, Axe, Avon, Ocean, Sure, Teakwood, Rexona, Gillette, Fa Sport, Dove, Dry, Right Guard, Malizia  and others.

C&M  noted that some consumers are loyal to their favourite brands and do not switch unless a compelling alternative is introduced.

Brief History

Before the advent of deodorant, people battled body odour  with perfumes (a practice dated back to the ancient Egyptians and Greeks).  That changed when Mum deodorant came onto the scene in 1888, from an unknown  inventor.

History, however, recorded that this Philadelphia-based inventor trademarked his invention and distributed it through his nurse under the name of Mum.

Mum also had very little in common with the deodorants found in drugstores today. Unlike today’s roll-on, stick or aerosol deodorants, the zinc-based Mum deodorant was originally sold as a cream applied to the underarms.

In the late 1940s, Helen Barnett joined the Mum production team. A suggestion by a colleague inspired her to develop an underarm deodorant based on the same principle as a new invention called the  ball point pen. This new type of deodorant applicator was tested in the USA in 1952, and marketed under the name of Ball roll-on.

The first Antiperspirant

The first antiperspirant launched in 1903, was named Everdry. It used aluminium salts to block pores and inhibit sweating. These early antiperspirants caused skin irritation. However, in 1941, Jules Montenier patented a more modern formulation of antiperspirant that reduced irritation, named  Stopette  which was launched in 1965. However, antiperspirant sprays lost popularity due to health and environmental concerns, and today, stick deodorants and antiperspirants are most popular.

Market outlook

Due to the low purchasing power of the majority of Nigerian consumers, mass brands have dominated the deodorants market, they are those sold below N500 in the market. However, premium brands have been able to increase their market share in recent times helped by increasing demand from middle-income earners.

C&M findings show that the deodorants market is dominated by international brands, with local alternatives non-existent or insignificant. These include RexonaBrut, Sure  and  Dove, as well as Nivea  and  Malizia.

Selling points

Many of the brands adopted long lasting smell and stylishly designed bottles and price as their selling points.

Price war

The battle line between the brands will linger for a long time due to entrance of more roll-on and antiperspirant brands.

For instance, in the roll-on category, Rexona  sells for N900 in superstores and N700 in neighbourhood stores, Brut  sells for N700 in superstores and N600 in neighbourhood stores. In superstores, Dove sells for N800 and N600 in neighbourhood stores. Nivea for N1,000 in superstores  and N700 in local stores.

In the antiperspirant market, in Superstores,  Rexona sells for N1,500, compared to N1,200 in neighbourhood stores, Brut for N2,000 in superstores andN1,700 in neighbourhood stores,    while Dove sells for N1,800 in super stores, and N1,500 in neighbourhood stores. C&M  noted that though deodorants are cheaper in neighbourhood stores, customers are however, vulnerable as they may buy fake or expired products.

Consumers react

Consumers who spoke to C&M attributed choice of patronage to price, duration of fragrance and size which most times translate into increased content. Some consumers indicated preference for  Rexona, Dove, Nivea, Malizia and Brut and said they have been able to sustain their market dominance over the years.

Based on the dominance of Rexona, Dove, Nivea, Malizia and  Brut,  consumers advised other brands to upgrade their game to reflect product availability, consumer engagement and advertising, but did not deny the fact that other brands are doing well also depending on consumers’ interest and brand loyalty.

A unit seller at Iyana-Iba bus-stop, Ojo Local Government, Lagos State, who  gave her name as Mama Monsuru,  said:  “Sales increased in the last three months as a result of the Eid-ei-fitri festival, because people want to smell good during the period.”

Madam Agnes Inegbe, another unit seller with a supermarket located at Anibaba bus-stop, Ojo Local Government, Lagos State,  said sales recorded marginal growth since the beginning of the year. “Sales have been good even though the economy is biting; consumers still squeeze out some naira to smell good.”

Distributors’ response

Speaking, Director, Ibekwe Enterprises, Dennis Ofuma, at ASPAMDA market, Lagos –Badagry Expressway, revealed that his sales record showed an increased sale in 2017 as against 2016, even with the economic crunch the country witnessed between 2015 and 2016. “My sales in the last eight months show that 2017 will be better in terms of sales margin.”

In addition, he said: “The increased sales margin is occasioned by rising young population, and the humid weather which have resulted in high level of perspiration which people want to eliminate. Youths want to also boost their confidence and appear trendy and smell nice.”

Jerome Okaome of Dunga Brothers Associate, Idumota, Lagos, said: “Looking and feeling good is a basic need in our lives and a huge deal in today’s modern society.

“The volume of cosmetics (personal care and beauty products) we personally use every year should give an idea of the scale of the personal care products business in Nigeria. It is a multi-billion naira business. I do not want to mention the leader(s).”


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