Liquid fabric softeners are placed in the washing machine when the clothes are being washed or dried along with the detergent. The softeners provide a positive charge thereby eliminating the static in the clothes and providing a thin coat on the clothing fibers to make them smell better and look fluffier. The cloth softener industry is projected to constantly evolve owing to changing demands of consumers. New performance benefits, rapid biodegradability, and improved freshness are the factors impacting the fabric softener industry.
Most washing machines have a dispenser which automatically adds the liquid fabric softener on the penultimate rinse. Most washing powder brands provide the detergent mixed with the fabric softener, thereby offering cost saving to consumers and eliminating the need to buy both detergent and softener. Growing population along with the increasing demand for fabrics is expected to drive the liquid fabric softener market. Increasing demand for scented products coupled with the rising popularity of long lasting softeners is likely to be the factors responsible for the liquid fabric softener demand over the forecast period. Growing disposable income in developing economies is also forging a new trend in the industry, where the buying behavior of end users are based on the brand and its quality which is a common trend in developed regions.
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The overuse of fabric softeners leads to harmful effects on the users and causes environmental damage, thereby hampering the liquid fabric softeners market size over the forecast period. The chemicals used in liquid fabric softeners and dryer sheets are harmful for breathing. The binding chemicals are believed to have ill effects on the lungs and may cause the development of various cancers. The particles expelled to the environment through the dryer vent may cause health issues posing a challenge for the liquid fabric softener market. Manufacturers are working toward developing new products which are made from all-natural materials, thereby having lower effect on the environment.
The liquid fabric softener market can be segmented by product into general fabric softener and environmental fabric softener. By application, the market is categorized into residential and commercial sectors. By end use, the market can be classified into textile industry, laundry services, hospitality, and household cleaning. By region, the liquid fabric softener market can be segmented into North America, Europe, Asia Pacific, Middle East & Africa, and South America.
The Asia Pacific and North America region is expected to have prominent growth prospects during the forecast period. The consumption patterns of detergents in South America has indicated rapid shift toward low-cost liquid detergents.
Key industry participants in the liquid fabric softener market are Sun Products, Unilever, Procter & Gamble, Colgate Palmolive Co., Church & Dwight Co. Inc., and Henkel AG & Co. KGaA. The players in the industry are also focusing on the introduction of unconventional and novel fabric softeners. For instance, in 2016, Evonik launched a silicon based micro-emulsion for use in fabric softeners. These micro-emulsions ensure longer retention and enhanced fragrance of the clothes. The growing environmental concern of the water scarcity has pushed manufacturers to focus on developing concentrated liquid detergents. Consumers in developed countries have shown greater preference for concentrated products since the sales of concentrated liquids are higher than the standard alternatives.
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Mergers and acquisitions are the key strategic initiatives adopted by manufacturers in order to gain market share. For instance, in September 2016, Henkel acquired Sun Products Company which is active in the laundry and home care products sector. This acquisition has benefited Henkel to gain the 2nd position in terms of market share in the North America region.