Final month, shopper items behemoth Hindustan Unilever Ltd (HUL) introduced that Surf Excel grew to become its first $1 billion model in gross sales (approx ₹8,200 crore) in its portfolio of multifarious manufacturers.
The model, it mentioned, nearly doubled income within the final 5 years and in addition joins Unilever’s membership of 12 different billion greenback manufacturers, starting from Dove and Lux to Axe and Knorr, amongst others. HUL additionally mentioned that Surf Excel turns into one of many few manufacturers in your complete shopper packaged items sector in India to attain this distinction.
So, why this brouhaha over a detergent model? For one, Surf is actually a part of the (washed) cloth of India, having been launched in 1959. Generations have gone to highschool in Surf-washed garments, to varsity, to workplace, and to weddings and on holidays, and after over six many years the model stands stain-free and shiny.
There was stiff and starched competitors on the way in which, from the P&Gs, the Nirmas and Ghadis, however with savvy advertising and marketing ripostes and market improvements with a premium play, Surf has remained numero uno within the detergents market with an over 40 per cent share, together with allied manufacturers equivalent to Rin.
Surf has seen many inflection factors in its lengthy journey within the Indian market. In 1985, it was upstaged and overtaken by Nirma and HUL had responded with a lower-priced variant with Wheel. It additionally launched its iconic Lalithaji marketing campaign, which those that grew up within the Nineteen Eighties would properly bear in mind.
Says Deepak Subramanian, Govt Director, House Care, HUL, “It was actually about utilizing the ability of the good shopper, as we referred to as it at the moment. We talked in regards to the superior value worth equation that the model had versus a complete lot of the opposite native manufacturers that have been there. Surf ki karidari essential hai samajdhari was actually primarily based on the insights of the superior worth that is available in.” It was a marketing campaign additionally applicable for the pre-liberalisation occasions, when customers centered on thrift and financial savings.
This millennium additionally noticed a number of inflection factors for the model, says Subramanian. The primary was, after all, its daag acche hain marketing campaign in 2005 which conveyed the message that ‘in the event you get soiled whereas doing one thing good, then grime is nice’, a really counter-intuitive line.
“That was an necessary second as a result of India was altering and so was the context. The aggressive profile within the detergent class was additionally altering and we felt that we now wanted to develop into much more progressive, much more future dealing with and be extra in contact with the occasions. The entire revolutionary considered saying ‘grime is nice’ spawned nearly 20 years of unbelievable promoting and nice storytelling. We discovered a solution to join with trendy India and with all of the modifications that have been taking place in society with a really counter-intuitive thought,” explains Subramanian.
S Subramanyeswar, aka Subbu, Group CEO, MullenLowe Lintas group, in his e book, Manufacturers to Stands, talks about how within the early 2000s, the battle between the main gamers within the detergent market had descended to pedestrian proportions. Shoppers have been being assaulted by a barrage of cliches, with phrases equivalent to ‘energetic substances’, ‘enzymes’, ‘stain magnets’ and so forth.
Main gamers like Surf and Ariel centered solely on product efficacy – potential to scrub whitest, take away hardest stains and so forth. And, value was used as an necessary tactical measure. Between 2000 and 2005, Surf dropped its value by 18 per cent and Ariel by 29 per cent. “That grime and stain was the enemy’ was an unquestioned commandment … curiosity within the detergent dialog was quickly fading out. It was in dire want of somebody brightening issues up,” says Subbu in his e book.
Discovering the Indian context
Chatting with brandline, Subbu says that daag acche hain grew to become much more significant within the Indian context. “It’s a stain on the garments and a stain on the character as properly, and this gave the model a bigger cultural context. And solely those that perceive the Indian context and the tradition can relate to it. Indian moms might relate to it as they all the time put the curiosity of youngsters earlier than anything and with the entire thing of higher good, the model began getting a deeper which means.”
As Subbu says, the model would empower youngsters, throughout numerous tales, to do the precise factor, even when that meant getting their garments soiled. What adopted was a collection of campaigns that resonated – from the large brother who fights puddles to ‘avenge’ his sister getting her garments soiled to how a boy helps a instructor get better from trauma by behaving like a canine as she had misplaced her pet, the place empathy involves the fore.
Subramanian says the following inflection level could be in 2013-14 when HUL began to make Surf much more accessible to customers. “We had a giant relaunch second in 2013 the place we introduced in new know-how into the model to enhance the product efficiency. We additionally fronted that with a ₹10 pack, the superior efficiency of which actually then introduced in a complete new set of customers into the class and drove model penetration in geographies the place the model was hitherto not accessible,” he explains. This value level now includes nearly 40 per cent of its gross sales.
Few years later, in 2016, HUL launched its Surf Excel Liquids. “Being in contact with the occasions, with washer penetration on the rise, we clearly wanted a brand new format,” says Subramanian.
On the highway to premiumisation
Now, within the final two years, HUL is taking the model to the following stage of format improvement and premiumisation by launching capsules and stain sprays to pre-treat garments. The capsule can be a detergent and affords robust stain removing, says Subramanian.
“It comes with the comfort of getting a powerful perfume and robust efficiency actives. And also you simply throw it into the machine. You don’t want the dose, you don’t need to measure. There are a gaggle of customers who’re telling us: ‘make my job less complicated, I need to get the stain off. However I would like it to be actually handy. I don’t need to measure and I don’t need to be so concerned within the course of’. And for them, we are saying, right here’s a capsule.” That just about encapsulates Surf’s journey