Industry Overview: The bar soap industry in India is highly orgai&ed with an annual growth rate of 13% and over RS 9,193 Crores in 2007. The industry is fragmented to a moderate extent with a few international players having large market share and few local players occupying minor share. The largest companies in this segment are HUL, Wipro, Godrej, Nirma, and Reckitt Benkiser. The bath and shower products form bulk of this industry with a contribution of Rs 8,678 Crores1. The soap industry in India is classified into three categories based on the price Product overview:
Lifebuoy is one of the oldest brands of soap bar that is market by the Unilever group. The original Lifebuoy was first produced in 1895 in the UK. Though the soap is no longer produced in the UK, it is still produced in many countries around the world and is the market leader in every Asian market that it is sold. The brand is very popular among the rural population with more than 50% of its sales in rural Asia. With a goal to provide affordable and accessible hygiene and health solutions to everyone. Lifebuoy sponsors a Health Education Program in India and has reached more than 70 million people with this initiative.
Marketing history of lifebuoy Lifebuoy was launched in India in 1935. Originally Lifebuoy was positioned as a masculine soap with sports and fitness as the background theme in its advertisement. The epic 1992 football advertisement with the jingle ‘Lifebuoy hai jahan, Tandurusthi hai wahan’ (Wherever Lifebuoy is, health is there) positioned it as masculine soap. The soap contained carbolic acid which gave it its typical red color and odor. Lifebuoy went through a major brand repositioning in 2002 when it shed it masculine image and positioned itself as a family soap.
The company changed the colour, shape and odour of the soap to appeal to all members of the family. The company adopted a new jingle ‘Koi Darr Nahin’ (No Fear)(sample adv) with 100% protection against germs as the selling point. Today Lifebuoy is an umbrella brand for different products like Hand Sanitizer, body wash, bar soap, hand wash, Men body wash and Clear skin. For the rest of our report, we will only discuss Lifebuoy soap bar and its post 2002 marketing strategy. Marketing Strategy The marketing strategy of Lifebuoy is closely linked with its vision of fulfilling the intrinsic desire of everyone to be clean, active and healthy.
Segmentation and Targeting: The segmentation strategy of Lifebuoy is focussed on price and health awareness. Since the vision of the brand is to provide hygiene to all classes of the society purchasing power of the consumer is a major factor. A few pointers towards it segmentation strategy * Geographic region are of no significance * Demographic characteristics like Age, Family size, Gender and Occupation are not of any significance. * Lifestyle and persong^ty are of no significance Using the above information, the segmentation and targeting of Lifebuoy is given as below Geographic: Tier 2 cities, Semi-Urban and rural areas Demographic: Income group – Middle class and lower middle class behavioral: * Occasion – Regular * Benefits – 100% germ protection A brief on Psychographic profile of the target customer is given in the next section. Hence, Lifebuoy targeting strategy clearly falls in between selective specialization and full market coverage. Psvchographic Profiling of Target segment The target segment of Lifebuoy is the semi-urban and rural households. A brief Psychographics profiling is done for the consumers, not based on any scientific study but on intuitive thinking.
Purchasing decisions In this segment, the purchasing decision in the household for soap bars, in most of the households, is typically taken by the women in the house. Hence we attempt to profile the psychographics of women. Spending Habits The consumers in the segment are middle-income to lower middle-income group. The disposable of this group is meager . hence spending is mostly on barely necessities and on augmented products . Motive Every human being, who is part of the society, has an intrinsic desire to be clean due to health and social acceptance reasons.
The primary motive behind buying the product is to fulfil this desire i. e. , be healthy and socially acceptable. Media Reach The consumers in semi-urban areas have fairly good access to all sorts of promotional media like TV, newspaper, radio and billboards. However a large portion of the target consumers are from rural areas which the reach of conventional media like television and newspaper is limited. Hence a separate stream of media has to be designed to reach out to the consumers to educate them on the benefits of using Lifebuoy. Activities and Interests
The typical woman in the target segment would be housewife. Hence the activities that she would be involved in are very few. Also they would also have very little interests outside of their household chores. The data below is about how women spend their time and what sort of things that they would be interested in. A few pointers have been made as to how marketers can use this information for efficient marketing. Family care: The women in this segment are entrusted with the responsibility of taking care of the family members especially children.
Hence this emotion of the women has to be exploited while making advertisements. Work: A large number of women in this segment work in the unorganized sector as unskilled or semi-skilled labor to support their family. Since it is unorganized sector there is less emphasis on personal grooming and more on hygiene (matches with Lifebuoy’s value offering) Television: A large number of the women in this target segment, especially in the semi-urban geographies have access to television and soap operas are very popular with them. Hence most of the companies advertising home needs use time slot during the soap operas.
Household chores: Most of the women in this segment do the household chores including purchasing by themselves. Hence advertisements should be aimed at housewives directly. Financial planning: The spending power of the people in this segment is very low and hence cost savings are given utmost importance. Hence to entice housewives the product price should be kept very low Opinions Here we try to delve into what kind of views the women have about themselves and surrounding and how this views and opinions affect their buying pattern. 1.
Health of the family is important than personal beauty. Hence women are more likely to buy a disinfectant soap than a beauty soap 2. Price can be low to a level where it meets the quality threshold. Anything below this threshold deemed of low quality. Hence both price and quality are important but price is given high preference. 3. More for less is always better. A bundle pack that offer discounts is better than a single pack. 4. Big shops and supermarkets stock only costly products. Hence a typical woman would visit a shop at the end of her street than visiting a supermarket.
Hence companies should stock their products at every shop. 5)A brand that with high recall is of better quality than the one which is not. Hence brands should advertise to have a higher brand recall. Positioning Before evaluating the positioning strategy of Lifebuoy, it is important to assess the competitors and identify the factors that influence the purchase decisions of soaps. The main players that have significant share in the segments Lifebuoy operates in are 1)Santoor: Santoor is a sandalwood based beauty soap that is targeted at the woman and is the largest soap brand in South lndia. )Dettol: Dettol is an antiseptic soap from Reckitt Benckiser that has closely followed Lifebuoy in terms of product offering 3)No 1: Godrej No 1 is the most popular soap product from the Godrej house and is currently the third largest selling soap in India and market leader in Delhi, Haryana and Himachal Pradeshvl 4) HUL Products: Lifebuoy also competes with internally with other HUL products like Breeze and Rexona According to a literature research published in the IUP Journal of Management, the factors and attributes that influence the consumer behaviour of buying soaps are )Packaging and Promotion Schemes 2)Composition : Fragrance, Ingredients, Skin Type 3)Availability and Brand Recognition Additionally price and few functional attributes like hygiene and beauty have been considered. Since there is no data to draw quantitative perceptual/positional maps, we have evaluated the soap brands qualitatively based on the factors given above. Marketing Mix: In this section, we try to evaluate how the STP strategy influences the marketing mix of Lifebuoy and how it provides Lifebuoy advantages over its competitors Product:
Lifebuoy is a bar soap that is aimed as a family soap with health and hygiene as its selling proposition. The soap was originally positioned as a masculine soap with fitness and health as the value offering. In 2002, the product underwent a major change shedding it legacy shape, colour and fragrance to make it more appealing to all members of the family. The product, since then, is positioned as family toilet soap with 100% protection from germs as it value proposition. As a product that is more than 100 years old and 75 years of presence in the Indian market, Lifebuoy is one of the most recognised products.
Positioned as a family soap, Lifebuoy holds and advantage over its competitors as it appeal to all members of the family. This is really important as it fits well with the typical middle-class and lower-middle class households’ habit of using the same soap by all the members of the family. However, Lifebuoy fails to attract beauty conscious women in the family. Also, many of Lifebuoy’s competitors have products that have traditional ingredients (Sandalwood in Santoor and Godrej No. l) which Lifebuoy has not yet forayed into. Place
Lifebuoy is positioned as soap for the semi-urban and rural population. With over 70% of India’s population falling under this segment, it provides huge market potential for Lifebuoy. However catering to this segment brings logistical challenges. Lifebuoy enjoys a distinctive advantage over its competitors in this context as it is promoted by HUL, the largest non-tobacco FMCG Company in the country. Due to HUL’s widespread distribution network, Lifebuoy is virtually available at every POS. Hence Lifebuoy is able to capture close to one-fifth of the Indian soap industry.
Though Lifebuoy is present even in the urban markets it is pushed to the backseat as the focus of the company is to sell its other soap products like Lux and Rexona. Price Lifebuoy is priced in the mid-level segment. The current price of Lifebuoy soap is about Rs 14 for 100 grams. Lifebuoy is available in packs of various sizes (50gm, 75gm, 120 Gms, 4* 120gm family pack) and is affordable to people of all economic sectors. The competitors of Lifebuoy are priced slightly higher than Lifebuoy . The segment that Lifebuoy caters to is highly price sensitive and hence being priced lower than its competitors provides a distinctive advantage.
Promotion Lifebuoy promotion through advertising is based on its slogan ‘Koi Darr Nahin’ (no fear). Most of its advertisement focuses on cleanliness and hygiene as the central theme. The premise of most of its advertisement is about a child playing/working in dirt with his mom proclaiming ‘Koi darr nahin’ to portray that there is no fear of infection as they use Dettol. Since, the primary target market of Lifebuoy is rural market which is not very educated about the benefits of Lifebuoy or cleanliness in general; lifebuoy has taken the initiative of educating the customers.
The initiative called Lifebuoy Swasthya Chetana is the largest rural health and hygiene education programme ever in India and has already reached 70 million people till date” With an effective advertisement and CSR activities, Lifebuoy has been able to build up a formidable brand over its competitors. Competitive Strategy With about 18% of the total soap market share, Lifebuoy is definitely the market leader in this industry. The brand has been a pioneer in the mass rural marketing model and is also the price leader among its competitors. Let us at the various strategies that Lifebuoy follows to stay the top.
Expand the total market Most of the customers in the target segment are not frequent users of soaps and use soap only for bathing purpose. Lifebuoy has made many steps in educating the customer on the importance of using soap at five key occasions •Before Breakfast •Before Lunch •Before dinner •During daily bath •Immediately after visiting the toilets Lifebuoy has been involved in many awareness programs which have been discussed in detail in the report. Through such initiatives Lifebuoy has been able to bring in new customers as well as increase the usage among existing customers. Defend Market Share:
In the recent years, due to the introduction of many competitors, the market share of Lifebuoy has been on the decline. To defend its market share Lifebuoy has slashed its prices further to gain over competitorsvl”. The brand was also re-launched with an improved formulation that reduces mush and signals better consumer valuelx. Lifebuoy also introduced many variants of its soap with natural ingredients to defend its position against natural soaps like Godrej No. l and Santoor. Expanding market size: Rural segment, which forms the bulk of Lifebuoy’s consumer share, is heavily influenced by product availability while making their purchases.
The disposable income in this segment is very less and hence consumers buy products as and when they need it and do not stock extra at home. Hence if the product is unavailable on the shelf, they would buy any other product. Lifebuoy (HUL) therefore undertook projects to enhance the rural supply chain by a network of sub-stockists and ‘Project Shakti’ in partnership with the Self-Help Groups of rural women. These Self-Help Groups acted as direct-to-home dealers. In rural India, women are the catalyst of change and that is why Project Shakti kept women in focus.
Project Shakti has proved to be a great marketing venture for Lifebuoy since it works in both terms which is promotion as well as a distribution network with social welfare benefits. Through such innovative campaigns, Lifebuoy is able to expand its share in the years following its repositioning. However in the recent years the market share has been declining. Building Brand Equity Lifebuoy has been in India for over 75 years. Since then the brand has been able to connect to the consumers at an emotional level and develop a brand loyalty.
Today the brand is market leader in the soap market with over 18% market share and has been repeatedly voted among the top ten most trusted brands in the country*. Though the brand had to undergo a re-positioning in 2002 and had to face a plethora of competitors, both external and internal to HUL, Lifebuoy has not only been able to survive but also emerge as the market leader. A few traits about brands have been given below. Brand Promise Lifebuoy promises to give 100% better protection from germs, which is repeatedly mentioned in its ads. The brand aims at providing health and hygiene to all members of the family by protecting from germs.
The brand promise of Lifebuoy closely follows the mission of providing affordable hygiene to all the people of the world. Lifebuoy is the largest selling health soap in the world and has been proven to be effective against germs. Brand Archetvpe Lifebuoy should be regarded as the Caregiver as the vision of Lifebuoy closely matches the core desire of the Caregiver, to protect and care for others. Lifebuoy has been involved in bringing awareness among its consumers in the importance of health and hygiene. Many of its social awareness programmes have already been discussed. Brand elements
In this section we look at the brand elements of Lifebuoy and how each element helps in building the brand equity Brand Name The name Lifebuoy is derived from ‘lifebuoy’ which means’*” “a life preserver in the form of a ring of buoyant material”. The name is apt for the brand as it clearly conveys the message of health and hygiene and is as such a life saver. However in the Indian context, where most of the consumers in Lifebuoy’s target segment are not highly educated, the brand name which is in English has very little or no significance. Logo : Lifebuoy’s logo consists of a Red cross with Lifebuoy written across it.
Red Cross is usually associated with ambulance and hospitals and as such indicates good health and hygiene. The logo is also very common and hence is easily recognisable and recallable, the two important characteristics that are necessary for any brand. The logo also means the same in all culture/geographies and hence can be used across the globe. Particularly in the Indian context, the colour red signifies simplicity, purity and holiness and protector from evil spirits which is evident from the fact that red is used in all auspicious ceremonies (bridal dress, thilak, sindhoor etc. . Hence it conveys the brand promise of Lifebuoy. Slogans/Jingle Over the years Lifebuoy has used many slogans/jingles that have helped it build its brand equity. The most popular of Lifebuoy’s jingle was the one launched in the 1992 football advertisement “Thandurusti ki raksha karta hai lifebuoy, lifebuoy hai jahan tandurusti hai wahan” meaning “Lifebuoy protects good health, good health is where Lifebuoys is”. The jingle is particularly famous because it was rhythmic and catchy. It is easily one of the most recallable jingles of all times.
It also clearly conveyed the brand promise and hence was able to spread brand awareness among the consumers. In 2002, after the brand underwent a change, the jingle was changed to “Koi Darr Nahin” meaning “No Fear”. The new jingle portrayed that by using Lifebuoy, there was no fear of infections. Hence, Lifebuoy has, over the years, used slogans that are attention getting and communicating the prime benefit to the consumer. Packaging:- Prior to 2002, Lifebuoy was sold in ordinary packaging and was red in color with a very strong smell due to the presence of carbolic acid.
However, in 2002 the packaging was changed to make the brand more appealing. The logo was modernized to match the contemporary standards. The shape of the bar was also changed from brick to a more contemporary one to match the standards set by its competitors. The brand also focused on the rural consumers and introduced small sized packets at lesser prices to make it affordable. The following elements are not strictly part of typical brand elements. However, in Lifebuoy’s context they are significant in differentiating the brand from its competitors.
They also fit in the three criteria of brand building as they are memorable, meaningful and likable. Characters:- Traditionally, Lifebuoy has never used any celebrities or any characters in its advertisements. This was because the brand never wanted to position itself as premium brand and hence the use of celebrity did not fit in well with its image. Since its repositioning in 2002, Lifebuoy ads have always been revolved around middle-aged woman (mother) and kids. Effective Marketing:- Rural Marketing:-
Since its repositioning, Lifebuoy’s has focussed on the rural markets and built a strategy to spread brand awareness through TV and print media. It also launched Lifebuoy Swashthya Chetana, the first single largest rural health and hygiene educational program through which it has been able to reach 70 million people already. The campaign aimed at educating the community especially the children about the necessity of basic hygiene in maintaining good health. Since most of the people in the target segment did not have access to print or TV media, Lifebuoy designed innovative methods to reach to them.
It used innovative communication tools at melas, festivals etc. to spread awareness about hygiene and health by product demonstrations. These techniques were used in order to change the hand-washing and bathing habits in rural India. For example, people in mela were asked to put their hands below a special camera where they could see the germs on their hands and were asked to wash their hands with Lifebuoy and see the difference. Hand-carts were also displayed at the company’s stall for attracting more people. Lifebuoy tried to market the product not just at the point of sale but also at the point of consumption.
Ideas like putting advertisement stickers on hand pumps, walls of the wells, putting tin plates on trees surrounding the pond were some of the innovative media utilised by Lifebuoy. Other media techniques used were shop-fronts and cinema van operations having films and audio cassettes with songs and dance sequences f)om popular films that comprised ads of HUL products during breaks. Through such innovative campaigns, Lifebuoy was able to reach out to customers who could not be reached through conventional media and was able to create a brand loyalty among the rural people. CSR work
Since the launch, Lifebuoy has been involved in many health awareness programs. The brand pursues a social mission of bringing health to all the people around the world. •Lifebuoy has launched ‘Save the Children’ campaign to spread awareness about prevention of diarrhoea. The programs aims at promoting handwashing with soap as the most economical way of fighting diarrhoea •It also conducts Global Hand washing Day, an event which aims at educating children about the importance of washing with soap and water. The event has been very popular and now holds the Guinness record of largest community hand wash event. Through Gurudwara, a promotional programme done with collaboration with Gurudwaras (Sikh temples) Lifebuoy has been able to create awareness among the rural population of Punjab. •Lifebuoy also launched ‘The Lifebuoy way of life’ in Mumbai, a study aimed at understanding whether a bar soap when used as recommended for hand and body washing reduces diarrhoea and/or acute respiratory infections in the target population. Lifebuoy also launched Lifebuoy active involvement in health awareness programmes has helped it develop a brand loyalty and value above its competitors.