The brouhaha around soaps lately has me wondering if the pH debate is worth it. There is a fatigue with off-the-shelf mass consumption products. Consumers seem to prefer soaps made by niche brands like Sebamed which are cruelty-free and organic. There’s a perception that such products are better because they are made from wholesome materials with fewer chemicals.
Does pH level matter for such discerning customers? It does. But does pH level alone determine the harshness or mildness of a soap? There are other factors such as fragrance, oils, chemicals etc., to consider. Then there’s affordability too. A 100 gm bar of Sebamed soap retails for Rs. 199 whereas HUL soaps cost less than Rs. 50. Then again, are Sebamed’s and HUL’s customers the same?
For those not up-to-date on the Sebamed vs HUL story, here’s the short of it. The German brand Sebamed released ads that questioned the pH level of HUL’s soaps Lux, Pears and Dove. It compared Lux’s pH levels to that of Rin, HUL’s detergent soap.
In short, a challenger brand took on an industry leader with very public, very aggressive ads. Was it a prudent move? Some industry leaders opine that Sebamed painted itself into a corner by taking on a giant which is used to brutal brand battles. Advertising experts are divided in their assessment. One lot think that the brand gained notoriety but tarnished its image among consumers. Others feel that the ad campaign helped Sebamed stand out in the cluttered space of personal care.
We were curious about what the general public thought and ran a poll on our LinkedIn channel. 88% believed Sebamed’s assertions were authentic and a win for the brand. Younger consumers, especially Gen Z, are more likely to opt for healthier, organic, climate-friendly products. How will such preferences shape the markets of the future? We’ll wait and watch.
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