Hindustan Unilever (HUL) is one of India’s top five most valuable companies. Chairman and Managing Director Sanjiv Mehta shares six of the ways HUL grew to meet the needs of the Indian market and what’s in store for the next decade
More than 50% market share in India is good news for any business. But dishwashing brand Vim from Hindustan Unilever (HUL) has a track record that also boasts a business delivering strong double-digit growth, with a range of products that 90% of Indians have used at least once in the last five years.
“Vim’s product range offers practical high-performance solutions to a wide range of consumer pain points that cut across geographic and socio-economic differences,” says Deepak Subramanian, Home Care General Manager, South Asia.
“It is this diversity and efficacy that is fuelling its ability to connect with consumers.”
Products that get the job done
So how did they do it? Central government schemes aimed at introducing liquified petroleum gas-fuelled cookers have certainly played a part. By reducing the number of wood-fuelled stoves used in rural areas, these initiatives also reduced the availability of ash, which was traditionally used to clean cooking utensils, and a new rural market for dishwashing products has opened up.
But this is not Vim’s only driving force. The brand’s remarkable growth is also grounded in its superior product range, its consumer-focused innovations and an impactful purpose that is resonating with different people.
“Our consumers’ love for the brand is reflected in the fact that Vim has the highest equity of any HUL brand in the country,” says Deepak. “In short, Vim is synonymous with superior dishwashing.”
Here’s how innovation and purpose have fuelled Vim’s growth
Vim’s product portfolio showcases a range of products that cut across all socio-economic groups. At the heart of the brand family is undoubtedly the Vim dishwashing bar, the product which brought the brand to life for the first time.
While still a favourite in India, where both the bar and its ‘power of 100 lemons’ tagline have stood the test of time, these days the power of mint and neem (also known as Indian lilac) also feature on Vim’s newer product labels, bearing testament to the brand’s determination to tune in to the preferences of both their existing and potential consumers.
Whether it is banishing cooking odours with super-charged fragrance, protecting delicate cooking utensils with dilutable dishwasher gels or (more recently) supporting the Covid-driven trend for dishwashers with Vim Matic dishwasher powder, Vim – an expert in ‘all things dishwash’ – is ensuring that consumers have no need to shop outside the brand.
In 2020 this led to a significant brand extension with the launch of the patented Vim Power Scrub, the brand’s first dishwashing accessory. With an innovative triangular head to allow easier cleaning of hard-to-reach spots, and three times thicker fibre which lasts longer than ordinary scrubbers, the innovation has been well received in India.
The power of purpose
“In India, the burden of household chores has historically fallen on the shoulders of women. However, Vim has taken on a purpose to change society’s perspective to see women’s role beyond that of a homemaker,” says Abhinav Ravikumar, Home and Hygiene Innovations Head, South Asia, explaining why the brand’s marketing has pivoted to more purpose-led advertising.
Vim’s latest advertising campaign, for example, shows a young bride-to-be challenging traditional social expectations that women should be solely responsible for household chores and encouraging her future husband to see it as his responsibility too. Winner of the Un-Stereotype category in the Kantar Creative Effectiveness Awards in India, the campaign has clearly hit the right note with consumers.
“Early results showed that viewers appreciated Vim’s positive approach to the issue, without playing the blame game,” says Abhinav. “This has been effective in improving awareness, brand love and future consideration, while also driving the key message about how effectively and easily Vim cleans dishes.”
Together these initiatives have led Vim to experience continuous growth while making cleaning easier.
“With a purpose-led marketing campaign, strong consumer trust and a structured strategy to expand both in terms of markets and products, we hope to ensure that consumers continue to put Vim in their shopping baskets and allow this upward trajectory to continue,” says Abhinav.
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