Making a Kill in Fabric Softener Business


Article by Herman

What is Fabric Softener?

Also known as Fabric Conditioner, it is a laundry product whose mode of action is to coat the surface of a fabric with chemical compounds that are electrically charged, causing threads to “stand up” from the surface so the fabric feels  soft and makes it fluffier. 
Cationic softeners bind by electrostatic attraction to the negatively charged groups on the surface of the fibers and  their charge. The long aliphatic chains then line up towards the outside of the fiber, imparting lubricity. Examples of fabric softener brands in the Kenyan market are So-soft,
Sta-soft, Downy, Pinky-soft etc.

The average cost of a good fabric softener is Ksh 250 per litre, with the cost of production being about Ksh. 17-(container excluded) . This means that the whole cost of production of fabric softener (designer container (20 Liters) included ) lies between Ksh 230-311/-. We can, therefore, agree that the markup profit of this product is about 400%.

If one decided to make a high quality fabric softener, sell it in a 20-Liter Jerry Can at Ksh 2,500, he is poised to make Ksh 2,000 as net profit. And targeting a monthly client base of 500 regular customers, the manufacturer is poised to make a cool 1000,000 as NET PROFIT every month.

But how easy is it to achieve this?

Quality: Good scent aside, clients need a performing product. A good fabric softener will need a combination of at least 2 high quality Cationic softener ingredients; such as Dimethyl Siloxane- a quarternary ammonium-to give it the synergy it requires to play the role of fabric conditioning.

Pricing: Prospective customers, especially those in commercial laundry services, big homes, schools etc will likely go for a product that saves extra cost. At Ksh 2,500, the customer is happy at the thought of saving over Ksh. 450.

Zoning: Achieving a clientèle base of 500 regular customers is easy. For example, a producer of high quality fabric softener can identify and divide the target market into zones. eg; Major cities like Nairobi, Mombasa, Kisumu and Eldoret may each consume at least 50 gallons every month. (That is 200 Jerry cans ) Big urban areas such as Thika, Kisii, Bungoma, Nyeri, Malindi, Meru, Nakuru, Embu, Nanyuki, and Kericho , on the other hand, can take 25 jerycans per month . (That is 300 Jerry cans)

Incentives: Find a freebie that will accompany each gallon of your high quality fabric softener EVERY month. The giveaway must be cheap to make and of value to the customer eg. 1 liter Hypochlorite Bleach, a jar of Lotion, a packet of candles etc. (Note: Self Made liter of Hypochlorite bleach, a jar of lotion, a packet of candles each cost less than Ten shillings to make)

▶It is noteworthy that a Jerry can (20-Liters) of high quality fabric softener costs about Ksh 250 to make.

▶ Investing on a quality product takes an extra cent but it is worthy.

▶ Maintaining your customers while looking for more, expands your territory while covering up for unpredictable client loss.

▶ Having a professional, up-to-date knowledge in product (fabric softener) formulation gives you an edge over the Jua Kali  concoctions (‘mikorogo’) that are common with low standard, poor formulations gotten from chemical shops in Nairobi streets. A prospective client should NEVER differentiate your fabric softener from the leading brands such as Pinky-Soft.

If you jet in a chemical shop, demand ingredients for fabric softener, and the Attendant gives you pre-weighed materials with quick instructions on how to MIX them, FORGET making a high quality fabric softener.

And now, you can make Ksh 12 million shillings every year by making and selling a high quality fabric softener. Can’t you?

Adapted from the book:
Simplified Industrial Chemicals for Home Manufacturing by Herman K.


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