We know of many product categories which though are targeted to a certain target group, are surreptitiously used by others. Like, a woman's magazine is more than often leafed through by men, or an overtly targeted man's cigarette is smoked by women.
One such discovery paved the way to a birth of a new 'sex changed' brand. The story is also about how failures can give birth to success!
For over almost two decades many companies with their respective brands tried to grab some decent market share in a category called Fairness Creams. The juggernaut in the category was and still is HUL's Fair & Lovely, now deceptively rechristened as Glow & Lovely.
This brand has dominated since early 70's of the last century primarily by exploiting the Indian fetish for fairer skin tone. And it blatantly positioned itself as a magic potion to relieve anxious girls and their over-anxious parents from anxiety of not being selected as a bride-to-be in the marriage market.
This overwhelming fear was exploited to the hilt by F&L and the brand grew by leaps and bounds. F&L ultimately turned out to be a generic brand and was followed by many also ran brands.
Not being able to make any substantial mark, Emami Naturally Fair, the me too brand embarked on to some real soul searching of the consumers. A series of some 12 FGD's across the length and breadth of the country amongst women in the age group of 16 to 40.
Lo and behold, the FGD revealed an insight which had something more to do than just with women! While we were trying to find out how women view fairness, what are their motives, what are their expectations, their levels of satisfaction or dissatisfaction on the category and various brands etc., what we confounded with was quite startling! That in almost every household fairness cream are being used on the sly by men folks of the households. And we further researched to estimate that almost 30% of fairness cream consumption in India are by men.
Armed with this insight, we went to the R&D drawing board, tweaked the formulation of the brand and launched Emami Fair & Handsome. While communicating we harped on the fact “now men don’t have to apply fairness cream on the sly (chupke, chupke) …and that a cream meant for female skin will not work on the rough and tough men skin”. In almost no time the brand was a big hit!Learnings?
- Be open to research
- Design your research intelligently, don’t be foolish to ask men whether they require a fairness cream. No men would divulge that in research.
- Adopt blue ocean strategy if you have a really strong competitor. Change the battlefield, take your competitor by surprise.
- Hit where it hurts. HUL on their own would never have done it, because it would have cannibalised their own brand.
PS. HUL cut a very sorry figure when they launched Fair & Lovely Menz to compete with Emami Fair & Handsome. However, lot of water have flown under the bridge by now. With the onset of Black Lives Matter and its repercussion throughout the world, these companies are now forced to remove the ‘Fair’ bit from their branding. Now HUL has stolen the ‘Handsome’ bit from Emami and rechristened their brand as Glow and Handsome. Let us wait what the courts have to say?
Written by: Prof. Shovan Nandi Faculty – Marketing, ISB&M Kolkata