Soap Manufacturer Business Plan

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Market Analysis Summary

There is tremendous potential for a product that provides supervisors and parents with the control to monitor and encourage hand washing. Considering the large scope of our potential markets, we feel it is imperative to focus our limited resources on a particular geographic region where we can establish demand for our product. After successful market penetration, we will begin  implementation into the restaurant and hospital markets.

Market Segmentation

SAFEassure's first product line addresses the day care market. CHILDassure will first be introduced in the Portland, OR area, before sequential expansion to additional day care markets. There are currently 516 day care facilities in the Portland Metro area. After successful implementation in Portland, we will begin expansion into the greater Northwest. There are 3,414 day care facilities in the greater Northwest.

Successful penetration into the day care market will be followed by implementation into the restaurant and hospital markets. There are currently 19,362 restaurants in the Northwest, followed by health care services, which includes 23,108 organizations in the Northwest.

Industry Analysis

The Industrial and Institutional soap industry, of which we are a part, is quite fragmented, but contains several well known main competitors: Gojo, Kimberley Clark, Dial, Provon, and SoftSoap, as well as generic brands that provide to distributors like Massco and Sysco. The industry is stable and growing; between 1998 and 2003 it grew by an average of 4% annually. Within the I&I sector there is fierce competition for market share among the existing popular soap offerings, leading to lean profits on soap sales.

Distribution Patterns

Distribution in the soap industry is provided by regional providers. These distribution companies usually serve a large portion of the market based on the respective size of the market, delivering to the organizations monthly or bi-monthly depending on demand and usage patterns. Food services typically receive deliveries of cleaning products once a month. Hospitals typically have a distribution system that operates on monthly deliveries of large quantities. Restaurants typically have a weekly delivery schedule.

Competition and Buying Patterns

Commercial customers select soap based on the necessary minimum safety regulations for the intended user; restaurant and hospital regulations require anti-bacterial/microbial. Customers will typically select a product based on price, distributor availability, and convenience. Distributors will deliver a complete order of cleaning and maintenance products to customers. Major competitors sell to a variety of customers, including distributors like Sysco, who receive generic soap from bulk producers, then repackage and deliver it along with other products it sells, utilizing the same distribution systems.

Main Competitors

Traditional soap producers
Soap is a common and familiar the commodity of necessity to every company. Traditional soaps employ pleasant scents and dyes to encourage hand washing compliance. However there is no way to verify if hand washing has occurred and traditional soaps do little beyond the pleasant scents to encourage hand washing.

The largest current soap producer, Dial Corp, consistently achieves strong sales, and has enjoyed strong market share in the commercial markets. Producing a wide variety of soap products, Dial has maintained 18% in market share over the last decade. The other largest commercial soap providers include Kimberly Clark, Gojo, SoftSoap, Provon and NXT.

Alternative hand washing compliance systems
HyGenius, a product produced by Compliance Control Inc., is a complete hand washing compliance system that is installed (and leased) in businesses like restaurants, hotels, hospitals and receive. The system includes a small control box that controls water temperature, pressure and run time. By systematically controlling these factors, employees can be both trained and monitored in their hand washing frequency and technique. Periodic reports stored on the computer and linked to the Internet can be produced to indicate the number of times per month employees have been washing their hands, and the estimated savings that the system has created through efficient water use.

This system has limited value to business managers because they are expensive to install and lease, and do not necessarily increase employee compliance. They provide managers the ability to track usage, but do not help control day-to-day hand washing compliance individually or immediately.

Disposable Gloves
Hypo-allergenic gloves are the solution provided by some organizations to combat the threat of hand washing non-compliance. To limit the risk of hand contamination, many restaurants and all hospitals require the use of gloves. Although gloves eliminate the risk of direct hand contamination they are not without downfalls:

  • Gloves can carry bacteria in-between fingers, and on the glove surface, causing similar cross contamination to that of bare hands.
  • Disposable gloves can cost a location upwards of $5,000 each year.
  • Gloves can provide a false sense of security, causing employees to substitute gloves in place of proper hand washing.
  • Gloves rip and tear.

Industry Participants

The soap industry is highly fragmented. There are more than forty different Institutional soap products that compete in the market. 

Target Market Segment Strategy

Our initial day care market will consist of medium to large day care organizations, consisting of twenty or more children. Organizations such as Kindercare and La Petite Academy represent very attractive opportunities for our products. Organizations of this type are attractive because they are well managed, successful, health conscious and nationwide. Within these organizations we will target decision level managers with the power to implement use of our product in those locations.

Market Needs

According to a study published in the medical journal, Infectious Diseases in Children, researchers in hand washing recovered fecal coliforms from the hands of one out of every five staff members, citing that more than 33% of day care facilities "had poor hand washing techniques and no policy for hand washing before eating or after playing outside. In spite of all the studies about the benefits of hand washing, improper or infrequent hand washing continues to be a major factor in the spread of disease in day-cares." (http://www.ehs.wustl.edu/Topic/top500.htm)

Hand washing in child care facilities is an ideal initial target market for several additional reasons:

  • Child care facilities have rampant illness and germ problems that can be directly reduced through frequent child and worker hand washing.
  • Child care facilities have strict, government mandated rules that require frequent hand washing.
  • Parents are particularly interested in reducing child illness, making them one of our strongest advocates for the use of CHILDassure in environments they cannot directly monitor.

In a study cited by Family Practice News in 1996, "Scientists had kids wash their hands when they arrived at school, before lunch then again after lunch time, recess and one more time before heading home every single day."  As a result of these ‘scheduled' wash times, researchers found that "a month later, these kids had 24 percent fewer days off from colds, sniffles and flus and a whopping 51 percent fewer sick days because of gastrointestinal complaints like stomach cramps or diarrhea." (http://www.healthcentral.com/drdean/deanfulltexttopics.cfm?id=15538) 

With nearly 12 million children in child care facilities across the nation there is a clear need for CHILDassure, our first product, that can both encourage and help monitor child and employee hand washing to ensure a safe, clean environment for children. Additional future target markets also have significant need for fading dye products:

  • Hospitals:  "In health care, nurses and doctors wash only 30% of the required time between patient contacts and procedures. Each year, an alarming 2,400,000+ nosocomial infections occur in the U.S. alone. They are estimated to directly cause 30,000 deaths and contribute to another 70,000 deaths each year. Nosocomial infections cost over $2,300 per incident and $4.5 billion annually in extended care and treatment." (Source: CDC) (http://www.ehs.wustl.edu/Topic/top500.htm)

  • Restaurants:  "Food borne illness kills over 10,000 people each year. Over 70% of all outbreaks originate in food service operations and, as many as 40% are the result of poor food service and cross-contamination. Each year over 80 million estimated cases of food poisoning occur in the United States alone. The U.S. spends between $7.6 and $23 billion annually on health care and lost productivity resulting from food borne illness. The average incident costs the food service company over $75,000 and results in significant future sales losses." (Source: FDA) ( http://www.ehs.wustl.edu/Topic/top500.htm) 

There has been a recent effort by the Food and Drug Association, the Center for Disease Control, the National Restaurant Organization, and others to promote education to increase hand washing compliance in target markets. The focus of these programs is to educate and encourage preventative control measures for children and workers to help reduce diseases and lawsuits. This has led to greater awareness in our target markets about maximizing cleanliness and minimizing preventable illness.

There is an additional trend in both our target markets and industry towards organic based soaps. Organic products have become increasingly associated with safety and health in a variety of different markets. Our completely organic soap is complementary to this growing market trend.

Market Growth

The demand for child day care services will continue to grow. As the labor force participation of women between the ages of 16 and 44 remains high, parents of preschool and school-age children are expected to seek more day care arrangements. As parents continue to work during weekends, evenings, and late nights, the demand will grow significantly for child day care programs that can provide care during nontraditional hours. School-age children, who generally require child day care only before and after school, increasingly are being cared for in child care centers. (U.S. Department of Labor, www.bls.gov/oco/cg/cgs032.htm)