Fairness creams' market share appears to be shrinking
The market for men's fairness creams appears to be shrinking; analysts believe this could infact be a long term trend. Sales of fairness creams in this segment have reportedly been contracting since 2013-14. Emami, the leader in fairness creams in the market, grew by a measly 1 percent last quarter and saw similar growth in first half of the financial year.
India's fascination with fairness creams
The market for fairness creams in India is valued at Rs. 3000 crore. Indian men and women's fascination for fairness creams is well established given stereotyped preferences for fair skin. A 2004 survey revealed 30 percent of young boys and men resort to using lightening creams in secret. In 1919, the first commercial fairness cream was introduced in India; it was called Afghan Snow.
Fairness creams not safe?
Studies claim fairness creams only lighten skin upto 20%. In addition to being partially effective, their ingredients are know to be harmful: creams contain bleaching agents like hydroquinone, harmful metals like mercury, lead, chromium and strong steroids.
In September 2015, Food and Drug Administration cracked down on two pharma companies for their steroid laden fairness cream: its side-effects included skin thinning, rashes and excess facial hair. In August 2016, the Health Ministry expressed concern over unregulated sale of fairness creams laced with steroids: prolonged use can lead to diabetes. The health ministry is considering banning sales of such steroid-creams without prescription.
Fairness creams losing their popularity?
Analysts relying on independent research data observed that quantum of men's fairness creams has likely contracted from Rs. 375-450 crore in 2008-09 to Rs. 380-390 at present. Lightening creams catering to women have also been losing their sheen and popularity according to analysts. A decade ago, the cumulative market size was valued at Rs. 1500 crore whereas now it is just Rs. 2000 crore.
Independent Brand consultant disagrees
Brand consultant Harish Bijoor said sales of fairness creams may be stalling but people were unlikely to give up on them. New products continue to be launched and men are spending more and more on personal care.