Faculty Contributor : Avinash G. Mulky, Professor
Student Contributors : Ajay Jain, Debasish Das, Karthik Rangarajan, Praveen Singh, Sulakshana S It is common perception that many Indian women are partial towards fairer skin. Recently, noted dermatologists commented that people are now openly asking for a solution to something that has been an obsession through the ages. Equating fairness with beauty has turned out to be a key consumer insight in the case of the fairness creams industry with Hindustan Unilever capturing nearly 53% of the market share with Fair & Lovely. The company has drawn particular scrutiny for its promotions and advertisements featuring darker skinned women turning fairer on using the cream. This article attempts to chart the typical user of a fairness cream by segmenting the market, develops a positioning statement for Fair & Lovely and makes suggestions to increase the brand potential. Fair & Lovely: Evolution of the Brand
Hindustan Unilever's star product in the fairness creams segment had evolved into one of the most successful brands over three decades in as many distinct phases. Phase 1 saw the launch of the product in 1976 on the basic premise that "younger women wanted to have fairer skin in order to attract a better looking husband." HUL marketed this brand as a beauty cream capable of providing fairness within 8 weeks. The value proposition lucidly communicated to the consumer base read, "Get noticed by the man of your life." During Phase 2 of Fair & Lovely's evolution, the brand talked to a younger college going woman who is self confident and more modern in her outlook and believes home remedies for facial care to be old fashioned. In Phase 3, this further metamorphosed into a brand offering emotional benefits for achievers who actively seek solutions and do not look at marriage as the ultimate source of personal achievement. Fair & Lovely thus became a brand which communicated a message that Fairness leading to Beauty leading to Good husband to Fairness leading to Self-confidence leading to Good career.2 Fairness Cream Segment
The market forces which had helped in shaping the competitive environment for Fair & Lovely include new entrants, new category introductions, increased buying power of consumers and controversies. New entrants are a regular feature in this segment of the skincare market, trying to capitalize on the same value proposition. As recently as in 2007, Nivea launched a fairness cream. Emami's Fair and Handsome created an entirely new category of products within the fairness cream range acting on the insight from consumer research that 20% of all fairness cream consumers are men. This altered the market dynamics completely, forcing Fair & Lovely as the market leader to look up and take notice. Controversies have always surrounded the fairness cream segment, with people accusing them of being regressive for promoting that fairness is beauty. These market forces have elicited certain reactions from Fair & Lovely and made the brand what it is today. Fair & Lovely - a INR 1,000 crores brand - is the market leader in this segment having captured at least 53% of the total fairness creams market.i The competition can be best understood, if it is divided into three separate categories - Mass premium, Equivalent pricing and the Men's segment, as shown in Exhibit 1. [pic]Exhibit 1 Fair & Lovely's competitors in the fairness creams market Customer Perspective: Loyalty
In order to understand the current position of the brand from a consumer's perspective, market research was conducted. An existing survey conducted on the basis of attribute-based loyalty (to understand determinant attributes which govern the customer choice, particularly when confronted with alternatives and substitutes) and secondary data gathered from reputed journals were used to understand a typical customer and chart his/her profile. In addition, a questionnaire was floated to...