Business Times

Growth in self-expressive products is surging in Sri Lanka

By Thanzyl Thajudeen

Sri Lankan consumers are increasingly spending on self-expressive products that best suit their lifestyle, attitude and personality – and even beyond to how they want others to see them or be heard about them. Consumers in Sri Lanka are now freely expressing and exploring themselves to the outer world. This trend has definitely hit in every corner of the country – it’s not just the cities – it’s increasingly the suburban and rural areas.

I attended a wonderful forum on March 2 which was organized by the national body of marketing and this factual trend was confirmed by both Dr. Uditha Liyanage, whom we all know as a marketing guru, as well as Shaheen Cader of Nielsen Sri Lanka.

Years back in Sri Lanka, consumers were shy to purchase sanitary napkins; flowers and traditional colognes were used as perfumes; talc was used as deodorants; soaps was used as shampoos and conditioners – but today, it has taken a whole new turn – a dramatic change over the past few years.
Research indicated that self-expressive products in Sri Lanka are growing over a rate of 30 %.

The best sellers in this category were sanitary napkins (which is the fastest growing product category according to statistics from Nielsen), perfumes and colognes (from the branded to the all locals that actually look and smell original!), deodorants (I could see the innovative Rexona campaign hitting up), creams and lotions (which I see a lot of television and outdoor advertising – mainly ones from India – ‘Fair and handsome’ for guys or ‘Ponds age miracle’ for example) as well as shampoos and conditioners (a range of hair solutions – dry, oily, dandruff, anything you name it – and not to forget the appeals in campaigns).

When we are talking about all this – we are forgetting an opportunity that is been missed out in this era; the digital drive. With over two million Internet users with a majority being in the teen, youth and young adult groups; with increasing access of Internet through mobile and smartphones; with introductions of various cheaper broadband packages, why aren’t marketers thinking about the need to go digital – the need to put out an interactive site, the need to engage the digital crows, the need to drive in social media; the need to make opportunity of the 900K+ Facebook users in Sri Lanka?

The growth of self-expressive products are driven by the younger segment – and these chaps are increasingly and more often on social media platforms especially taking Facebook into consideration – as I state over and over again, you need to fish where the fish are. Facebook boasts a 50.81% penetration of total online population in Sri Lanka that is 902,460 users when I glanced through the statistics as of March 1 and has experienced a significant increase in the number of users with the majority – approximately 78 % coming from the 18 to 34 year olds. This age group is the ‘self-expressive’ segment – it’s time to get into Facebook.

Interestingly, as there are an increasing number of male shoppers in the country, Facebook leaves another opportunity - a majority of users from Sri Lanka, almost 64%, are male when compared to the 46 % female audience.

Marketers need to work on a whole digital and social strategy and framework to capture this massive opportunity. It’s time to think of an interactive site, a forum, a blog, an online game, something! Out of all the social media resources available in today’s digital world, I could conclude that Facebook is the key when it comes to Sri Lanka.

(The writer is an evolving marketer and strategist and could be reached at

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