Fair & Lovely goes in for facelift

Last Updated: Sun, May 02, 2010 19:30 hrs

The Rs 1,100-crore brand is now pushing consumers up the value chain by focusing on clear & flawless complexion

Fair & Lovely, the largest selling fairness cream in the world, has just gone in for a makeover. The Rs 1,100-crore brand of Hindustan Unilever now sports a new look, packaging and positioning.

And the accent is no more on skin lightness alone, but also on providing a clear complexion.

The ads, just launched, speak of this very attribute – "clear fairness". The product has a new tagline - gorepan sa kahi zyaada, saaf gorapan. This is in stark contrast to taglines earlier, which at different times have been zindagi roshan kare and badle aap, badle zindagi - all of them playing up how fairness could change one’s destiny.

Says Madhu Noorani, executive director, Lowe Lintas, the ad agency which is doing the makeover, "Women are looking for more than just general fairness. They want clear, flawless complexion too. The relaunch addresses that."

Says an HULspokesperson, "Brand innovation and renovation is core to our business. Brand renovation is aimed at constantly renewing the product equity with the consumer by making it current and contemporary. We have attempted to do that with Fair & Lovely."

HUL, in particular, has paid a great deal of attention to the product’s packaging with all three variants of Fair & Lovely - multivitamin, ayurvedic balance and anti-marks - available in different colours -reddish-pink, brown and blue.

The Rs 3,000-crore skincare market in India, where HUL is the leader with an estimated 70 per cent market share, has become competitive of late with new products and players getting in. The key fairness market in particular has seen competition coming from various ends including rivals such as Garnier, which have attempted to address not only fairness but also providing a clear complexion with their skin lightening products.

HUL’s move, say analysts, is aimed at plugging this gap, of a product that addresses both skin lightness and blemishes, in its portfolio.

The revamp of the product was necessary as competition is also heating up in the segment. CavinKare, for example, has just repositioned its decade-old skin cream brand Fairever to raise its market share to 10 per cent- plus this year. After two years, the brand, in the process of a makeover, has been re-positioned in the market. While actor Asin will be the brand ambassador across all markets, Fairever now talks about "saffron whitening essence" and has introduced a fairness indicator that will measure the degree of fairness variance over a period of time.

In the last one year, HUL has been steadily revamping its personal care portfolio, particularly skin care and hair care, to address emerging consumer needs. Whether it was the launch of the Dove Face Test last year to reinforce Dove’s premium positioning or launching the Vaseline Bodycare lotion or relaunching Sunsilk, HUL has done it all in its drive to expand market share.

The attempt, in particular, say analysts, has been to push consumers up the value chain by launching and relaunching products in the premium space. "Consumers themselves have been moving up the ladder," says Shirish Pardesi, senior analyst at Mumbai-based brokerage firm Anand Rathi. "It is no more about using a shampoo or cream alone. The accent now is on what problem the product can solve. This lends itself to some amount of premiumization, which is why the focus on this segment," he adds.

By and large consumers are averse to taking chances with products perceived to be low in value when it comes to personal care, say analysts. "That is also contributing to this trend of premiumisation," adds Pardesi.

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