Realities of Emerging Markets: Some Lessons from Unilever's Strategy for Lifebuoy & Sunsilk in India


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Case Details:

Case Code : BSTR295
Case Length : 16 Pages
Period : 2001-2008
Pub Date : 2008
Teaching Note : Available
Organization : Hindustan Unilever Ltd.
Industry : Consumer Packaged Goods
Countries : India

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Excerpts

Background Note

Unilever, an Anglo-Dutch company, was formed in 1930 by the merger between British soapmaker Lever Brothers and Dutch margarine producer Margarine Union. By the start of the new millennium, Unilever had become a leading manufacturer and marketer of CPG brands in foods, beverages, cleaning agents, and personal care products...

Lifebuoy: Targeting the BoP Population

For Unilever, Lifebuoy was a strong regional brand that was mainly sold in Asia and parts of Africa. It was a market leader in all the Asian markets in which it was sold.

In the early 2000s, Lifebuoy, which was HUL's flagship soap brand, was the market leader in the Indian soap market (Refer to Exhibit I for a brief note on Lifebuoy and the Indian soap market)...

Sunsilk: Targeting the Net-Savvy Youth Population

Sunsilk, a leading brand of Unilever, was marketed in more than 50 countries in Asia, Latin America, the Middle East, and North Africa. As of the mid-2000s, Sunsilk was the leading beauty shampoo brand in India (Refer to Exhibit III for a brief note on Sunsilk and the Indian shampoo market)...

Results

In 2003-04, the sales of Lifebuoy grew by 20%. According to Unilever, the sales of Lifebuoy were showing "directly attributable growth"as sales from the eight states where the LSC operated was particularly strong. In 2005, the sales of the brand grew by 10%...

Reactions

The LSC program received mostly positive coverage in the national as well as international media and was also acclaimed as India's single largest rural health and hygiene education program. Many analysts applauded the program and cited it as an example of how socially beneficial programs also helped improve the revenues of a brand...

A Strong Model for Emerging Markets?

With the success of the LSC campaign, the management committee at Unilever recommended to the board that corporate social responsibility (CSR) be integrated with its other businesses as well. Unilever's subsidiaries in other countries too were taking note of the success of the LSC program...

Exhibits

Exhibit I: Lifebuoy & The Indian Soap Market
Exhibit II: Lifebuoy "Swasthya Chetna"-The Multiphase Interactive Campaign
Exhibit III: Sunsilk & The Indian Shampoo Market
Exhibit IV: Average Time Spent on Traditional Media / What They Do on the Internet?

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