Hindustan Unilever is one of the largest and strongest Indian consumer goods company in India. Unilever sells a variety of goods, ranging from personal care and hygiene to nutrition. In 1973, a scientist working for Unilever discovered that when applied topically, vitamin B3 could lighten skin color which began the two-year process of researching skin pigmentation and how to alter it. In 1975, Hindustan Unilever introduced Fair and Lovely to the country of India, the world’s first skin lightening cream. Although its main focus is skin lightening, Fair and Lovely’s overall aim is to provide the necessary tools to nourish and purify one’s skin. The brand advertises that Fair and Lovely will lighten skin, act as a natural sunscreen, and adapts to all types of skin.
Being that this product was the first of its kind to be launched in India, Fair and Lovely grew in popularity. The main targets were the “new age women” who felt the need to be more modernized instead of traditional. As competition increased, Fair and Lovely released more products ranging from Winter Fairness Cream to Foundation to Multi-Vitamin Cream. The products itself are easily available for the low-income families as well as the well-off. Fair and Lovely advertises themselves as being able to give self-confidence as well as hope to the women using the product.
Analysis of the Business Situation
In today’s world, the media imposes beauty standards that females feel they must achieve in order to be “beautiful” and India is no exception. The definition of the ideal Indian woman changes constantly, and what is considered ideal now is not what was considered beautiful a century ago. A century ago, the ideal woman was of medium complexion, and now, the ideal woman is considered to be of light complexion. Colorism is “prejudice or discrimination against individuals with a dark skin tone, typically among people of the same ethnic or racial group.” In India, colorism plays a big factor in societal views you and having immigrated from India, I have been exposed to it on numerous occasions. Every time I meet my family members, the backhanded compliment that is always thrown my way is, “You’ve gotten lighter Maneesha, good job!” As I was not exposed to anything different, I have always taken that as a compliment and something to be proud of. Slowly with age and knowledge, I have realized many, if not all, Indians formed the opinion that having fair skin is beautiful and having dark(er) skin makes you inferior.
In India, people measure worth and skin-tone proportionately; the fairer someone’s skin is, the higher their worth is as a person. Today, campaigns are underway that promote self-love and self-worth. A major campaign that could affect the success of Fair and Lovely is the Unfair and Lovely campaign. In March of 2016, the hashtag, #UnfairandLovely, went viral and South Asian women of darker complexion resonated with the phrase. Unfair and Lovely is the anti-colorism campaign that encourages unity and to promote darker-skinned women of all different backgrounds and races. This campaign was created to encourage women to embrace their darker skin, no matter what society views as “beautiful” or “ideal.” Fast forward to 2018, the campaign has over 5,000 Instagram followers and over 1,000 twitter followers. Every day, women all around the world post pictures with the hashtag, #UnfairandLovely, showing its increasing popularity. As the campaign increases in awareness, Fair and Lovely slowly becomes the enemy, seeing as campaigns like this are encouraging stopping the use of products such as skin-lightening creams.
Fair and Lovely has faced its share of negative publicity in regard to their regressive advertisements that focused on the correlation of light skin and marriage. Slowly with time, they began to shy away from the correlation but yet, still continued the notion of promising light skin makes women’s lives better. The company uses famous personalities in their commercials, billboards, etc. to promote their product. The actors/actresses that are being used have fair skin so advertising that the cream made their skin whiter is wrong because Unilever is giving false hope to those spending their hard-earned money on those products. False advertising gives the company a bad reputation and decreases our chances of success.
The primary objective of my plan is to reposition Fair and Lovely in the next year so it can stand out from its competitors and to better our reputation in society. I want to shy away from the past that proposed the idea that by using Fair and Lovely, you will become lighter, find a husband, and live a happy life. By repositioning, positive brand awareness will increase as well as revenue.
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