‘Period’ Market Is Waiting To Be Tapped

Women in India are enraged. Well, for several reasons, but at the moment, it is sanitary pads (SPs). Period pain is one thing. But, pain of bearing a higher burden of expenses every month on this most essential item in every woman’s closet is under debate.

So, what’s going on here? Under the new tax regime, meant to make things simpler for everybody, items/services were clubbed under five different tax slabs and taxed more or less like they used to be before.

Amongst the new tax bands- 0%, 5%, 12%, 18% and 28%, sanitary napkins were put under the 12% bracket in the July meeting.

A regular no frill napkin is priced between Rs. 4 – 11 a piece, adding to the monthly bill close to Rs. 50 –132 per period. For a city woman, this may be paltry, but for girls/women in 70% of India, this could cause much grief.

In India, as per the last census, of 34 crore females of menstruating age, 71% live in rural areas. And that’s quite large a population to be ignored.

Government says they cannot make the 12% tax on sanitary pads go away. It hurts the manufacturer as the raw materials used in making a pad such as polymer, glue, poly ethylene film, is taxed between 12- 18%. So, a zero or lesser tax, would hurt the interests of domestic manufacturers as this would zero or lesser input tax credit for them. That means, the tax they pay on the purchase of raw materials would not be set off against the tax payable on the final product. So, a higher tax burden.

Another justification for a higher tax is, that before GST, sanitary napkins were taxed at effectively 13.7% (6% – Excise and 5% Vat), so its pretty much status quo post GST as well. While for manufacturers and states, there’s hardly any loss of revenue, it doesn’t do anything for the end-consumers. Women who found it expensive then, find SPs unaffordable even now.

As per the latest NHFS survey, only 48.2% of rural females age between 15-24 years use hygienic methods of protection during their periods. This percentage is much higher among the urban females, 77.5%. And country as a whole fair pretty dismally.

There’s a case for domestic manufacturers to find affordable and healthier solutions to reach this market, which if covered, would greatly benefit the well-being of our women and as a customer base, it is waiting to be tapped.

The map below shows the share of rural females between the age 10-50 years by districts. Out of 640 districts recognised by Census, there are just 12 such, that have zero presence of rural females. And nearly 300, which have close to 80-100% share of the targeted group.

(Click on the top left to view the color indexing done on the basis of % of rural females in each district.)

Read More


Misbehaving Airline Staff: What Does The Data Say About Indigo?

Indigo suffered two major PR disasters within a week – one where a passenger was hurt after she fell off a wheelchair because of gross negligence by an Indigo crew member and another, where a passenger was pinned down by yet another Indigo crew member. The last couple of weeks have been somewhat traumatic for Indigo, with yet another incident wherein ace shuttler P V Sindhu alleged misbehaviour by Indigo crew members.

Indigo, largely known for its on-time USP and pre-flight formalities, is in an expansion drive while already controlling 40% of the domestic Indian market share.

Which airlines do Indians fly domestically?

Monthly data from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation shows that while Air India has been gradually ceding market space to its private rivals, Indigo has maintained its dominating presence catering to 4 out of 10 Indians flying domestically.

Market share of Indian domestic airlines

Misbehaving crew has been a major grouse for passengers, with complaints under that tab ranging from 6-12% of all complaints.

Share of misbehaving crew

Air India has also seen the highest number of complaints per 10,000 passengers over time. Considering its scale of operations, Indigo has till now maintained one of the lowest rates of passenger complaints. However, its recent run-ins with misbehaving crew members, it is yet to see whether data will reflect the same. Watch this space for regular updates.

No. of complaints per 10k pax

Read More

Can You Guess Where This Market Is?


Let’s watch this video, first.

At first glance, it will look like any market in rural India. But a close look will reveal tall apartment buildings. This is where the market was located. It’s active for half-a-day, twice a week.

The market is located just opposite to a property developed by ATS in Sector 109, Gurgaon. It is approximately 5 kms from the Delhi airport, as the crow flies.

These are some of my observations:

Approximately 100-125 people were in the market when the video was taken (around 6.30 PM).

  • The total number of people who will visit this market from past one year is around 700-800 people, spending on average Rs 75-100.
  • There are between 40-50 vendors selling vegetables, fruits, sweets, toys, clothes, dry fruits, utensils, meat (usually chicken and fish), fruit juice, ice cream, food and everyday use items like comb, hair brush etc.,
  • Majority of people buy from vegetable vendors. They seem like anchor clients in the market.
  • Majority of customers are neighbouring villages (which were there before the place was urbanised) and construction workers. In another post, we will discuss about purchase patterns of construction workers and what they reveal.
  • Rain or storm, the markets function with great regularity.
  • The quality of vegetables are far superior compared to what Big Basket supplies, and prices are much cheaper.
  • The vendors move as a pack, with their own transport vehicles.
  • The market opens post-lunch, and ends by around 9.30 PM. Hardly seen them functioning beyond 10 PM.
  • Most customers walk to the market, hardly anyone come by vehicles.

What you won’t see here:

Near absence of any branded goods. It’s a challenge to find a single brand.

Think of this: This is a market in one of the most urbanised cities (Gurgaon) and located very close to Delhi. Yet, brands have no presence in the market – which is catering to the people in the bottom of the pyramid. A back of the envelope calculation shows the market makes a turnover of Rs 80,000 – Rs 100,000 in a day. A small economy of 800 consumers, 40 vendors and turnover of Rs80,000.

If I am a policy maker, I will look at ways to promote these markets which creates employment.

And, if you’re an executive looking to expand your brand’s presence, this is a market waiting to be studied and understood, so that next range of products targetting the bottom of the pyramid can be launched.

For more reading on ‘bottom of the pyramid’, read C K Prahlad’s essays on this topic.

(How India Lives has the most granular data about India. Name any village in a rural area or a ward in an urban location, we have 550 metrics ranging from demographics to asset ownership to how they live. Contact us, if you think we can help you.)

Read More


Insider Tips On WhatsApp?



Insider tips are circulating on WhatsApp groups, a Reuters Investigation found. Government may let the farmers sell the farm stubble so they don’t have to burn it. What makes Narendra Modi such a popular leader? His political humor and sarcasm, found a research group, that analyzed his tweets. 


Rs 5,500 per tonne

What is it? The amount for which farm stubble would be bought via a tender to be floated by National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC).

Why is it important? The burning of stubble of the previous crops to pave way for new plantings in November around Delhi is a major source of pollution and smog in the national capital and neighbouring states. The government says farmers can earn around Rs 11,000 per acre from the sale of stubble/straw pellets.

Tell me more: Some farmers in Punjab are using ‘waste decomposer‘ prepared by the National Centre for Organic Farming to solve this problem. In this method, a solution that decomposes 10,000 metric tonnes of bio-waste in 30 days. Each bottle is available at Rs 20.  



What is it? The number of instances Reuters has documented in which predictive messages about 12 major companies were posted in private Whatsapp groups.

Why is it important? The report says these messages involved information relating to specific metrics of upcoming quarterly results, upcoming bonus share issues or revenue guidance and were circulated hours or days before official company announcements. Though not all the messages had information that was the same as that reported, experts say the sharing of unpublished insider information and/or using it for trading could potentially be illegal, if they were deemed to be unpublished price-sensitive information. Passing on such details can result in penalties of up to Rs 25 crore and imprisonment up to 10 years.

Tell me more: Recently, the Securities and Exchange Board of India set up a committee to review rules related to insider trading. This is the second time a review of these rules is being conducted in two years, after the Prohibition of Insider Trading Regulations, 2015 received criticism for a lot of grey areas in terms of price-sensitive information.



What is it? The number of tweets of Prime Minister Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) studied by a group of researchers between February 2, 2009 and October 2, 2015.

Why is it important? The study, which seeks to understand what makes the Indian Prime Minister popular, says that he used political humour and sarcasm to appeal to a wider circle and refashion his political style. The authors say his irony gives rise to a form of political spectacle and reverberated with those using social media platforms as is evident from the high re-tweeting of his sarcastically-worded posts. According to a recent survey by Pew Research Centre, nearly nine out of 10 Indians hold a favourable opinion of him, similar to their view of him in 2015.

Tell me more: US President Donald Trump is the most followed leader on Twitter followed by Pope Francis and Modi, according to a report by Twiplomacy.


1,614 sq. ft

What is it? The maximum carpet area of houses that is eligible under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY), an affordable housing program. The new limit, approved by the Union cabinet, is 22% higher than previous limit of 968 sq. ft.

Why is it important? The higher house size, applicable for people earning between Rs12-18 lakh per annum, could spur demand especially in smaller cities and towns as more projects will be eligible under PMAY.  

Tell me more:  Under PMAY, an interest subsidy of 3% for loan upto Rs12 lakh is given for homebuyers earning between Rs12 lakh and Rs18 lakh. Loans above Rs12 lakh will not be subsidised.



What is it? The additional amount allocated under the National Mission for Judicial Delivery and Legal Reforms to improve infrastructure facilities.  

Why is it important? The spending will increase number of courtrooms and residential facilities for judicial staff at district, sub-district, and village levels. The additional amount is the central government’s contribution, which is 60% of total expenditure.  

Tell me more:  There are adequate courtrooms available to meet the current strength of judges. But if vacancies are to be filled, then it won’t be enough. 16,513 court rooms are available for district and subordinate courts as against working strength of 16,070 judges as on December 2015. The vacancies were estimated at 22% of the sanctioned strength.


Read More