Whiff of fresh air 

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The air care market is still at a nascent stage in terms of demand, although, it has evolved greatly in range of products and quality

If you visit the house cleaning section of a department store lately you’d be surprised to discover the choice in air fresheners these days. In the good old days, the humble naphthalene or moth balls ruled the roost. It was what most of us used to keep insects at bay. But judging by the display on shelves these days, the market for air fresheners has really evolved. There are aerosol sprays, plug-in fresheners and not to mention the omnipresent Odonil.

Fresheners like scented herbs are a lifestyle product today and they are brought extensively by hotels, restaurants and homeowners in Goa. According to local store owners, air fresheners these days are classified according to usage. There are products for the home, bathroom and car. The last segment, they point out, is the largest in the market.

All-India, the air care market is estimated at Rs 50 crore and growing at a rate of 20 per cent according to experts. The market is still at a nascent stage in terms of demand, although, it has evolved greatly in range of products and quality. Thus, products that were heavy and cloying in yesteryears are light and fragrant. They help to keep the surrounding airy and smelling clean.

Leading players in the market are companies like Dabur’s (Odonil), P&G (AmbiPur,) J K Helene Curtis, Henkel and SC Johnson. The latest entrant in the segment is Godrej. According to store owners, the scope for air care products is immense because the market is still very nascent. There are many households even in cities that buy fresheners sparingly. In interior villages, these products are purchased even less.

According to a Panaji store owner, air care products are considered as luxury by many middle-class housewives and therefore purchased occasionally. Sales increase mostly during monsoons to ward off dampness. As such it is not considered as priority purchase by the average buyer. Several homes continue to bank on the modest ‘dhoop’ or agarbatti to keep the air fresh, he said. \ However, thanks to urbanisation and increased purchasing power of residents, things are changing. Ground level checks reveal that sales are picking up steadily, and in the car segment especially it is brisk. Nearly every car owner prefers using fresheners at all times of the year.

With car fresheners comprising the largest segment of the air care industry, a number of small, unorganised players have entered the field. There are Goan manufacturers among them and they operate out of micro units in industrial estates. Air fresheners can also be purchased online and if you go on the net you can get it quite cheap.