Same as above
The brand Lifebuoy was launched in the year 1895. Even though Lifebuoy was sold in India as early as that, it was officially launched and marketed from 1935. It was the largest selling soap brand in the world with sales of Rs 5 billion, and sold approximately 2 million soaps a day, as in 2002. Lifebuoy had a 21 per cent market share in the overall soap market, and was a category leader in the carbolic soap segment with a 95 per cent market share.
For over a century, since the brand first came to India, Lifebuoy was associated with health and well-being. Its communication reiterated the message that Lifebuoy washed away germs and kept one protected and healthy. The brand went through a major re-launch for the first time in 1964, with a change in product formulation, shape, and packaging.
For the man, and then his family too
Its famous advertising jingle, ‘tandurusti ki raksha karta hai lifebuoy’ sung by Preeti Sagar, was so popular that it enabled the brand ‘Lifebuoy’ to be perceived as a ‘red carbolic soap’ for several decades. The brand passed through prolonged stages of growth and maturity during most of the second half of 20th century.
The brand was initially positioned in the health and value platform. The campaigns showed football players and athletes using the soap, and the jingle reinforced the attempt to make the product skewed towards the man of the house. The soap was brick-red and had a carbolic ingredient with a unique smell (chryselic perfume) that distinguished itself from other feminine brands, and making it the largest selling health soap brand in the world.
In the year 2002, the company changed this positioning decision, and the brand was no longer a masculine brand. The brand was repositioned as a ‘family’ brand. The brand was no more carbolic, the perfume changed and a new ingredient ‘Active B’, that eliminated harmful germs, was introduced. The campaign now portrayed a pretty girl, who was teased for having a pimple, but didn’t care after using Lifebuoy Gold, was an instant hit. The company maintained the health platform but targeted at the family so that the brand usage goes up.
The year 2004 saw another repositioning for the brand. The target was the ‘discerning housewife’ and the positioning was ‘health protection for family and me’. The new campaign by Lowe was spot on without diluting the age old positioning of health and freedom from germs.
The brand with a cause
In a conversation with exchange4media, Joseph George, Executive Director, Lowe Lintas explained that Lifebuoy as a brand is “unique”, as it has historically seen itself not as selling soap, but on saving lives. He said, “It has always been a ‘brand with a cause’. Till as late as 2004, India ranked the highest in diarrhoea deaths in infants under five years old, according to WHO. More than half a million children die every year due to diarrhoea, and the easiest way to prevent diarrhoea is to maintain good personal hygiene. This crusade to save lives has been hardwired into the brand’s DNA and as a result, all initiatives go back to this basic premise.”
According to George, in India, Lifebuoy pioneered the connection of germs to illness and removed myths that common ailments like diarrhoea and dysentery are caused by bad food but by improper hygiene. “We transitioned to a more positive brand idea when we moved to ‘Life without Fear’. But even that was rooted in the need to empower the consumer with good health and protection. We also recognised that being in the personal products space, we would have to parallely and constantly exceed expectations on product quality, sensories and packaging as well. Executing well on these dual considerations has made Lifebuoy even more relevant and build even more consumer affinity,” he said.
And now the latest campaign, or the latest “cause”, the Healthy Hoga Hindustan, attempts to deliver benefits that consumers instinctively do not associate with soaps, thus re-positioning Lifebuoy as not merely ‘a soap’ but a health essential. In a way, this brand has and always will believe in Doing Well by Doing Good. George reiterated that while the context and tone may change, the intent wouldn’t.
“The current campaign was created to further reinforce our brand idea with an even more persuasive functional leg. We also recognised the fact, that as the world’s largest health soap, it was incumbent on us to provide evidence to our consumers that we perform in real life and not just in labs! Thus be able to honestly and confidently live up to our claim of enabling consumers to live life without fear,” said George.
An onlooker’s perspective
“An extension of the germ free premise, the new ad is refreshing as it takes a leap into a social platform. The brand has seen a progression from focusing on family to kids, which led to the thought of Healthy Hoga Hindustan. There has been a paradigm shift from encouraging the use of softer, mild soaps for kids to harsh but protective ones, Lifebouy reinforces that. The research aspect has been dealt with and shown interestingly,” said Rishabh Sharma, Senior Executive-Strategy Planning, PerceptH.