Making a late entry into categories already tapped by competition, HLL has finally decided to target men with a fairness cream and also extend its premium brand Surf Excel to a bar form with intentions of replacing the Rin Supreme bar.
Speaking to Business Line, Mr Nitin Paranjpe, Vice-President, Laundry & Household, said, "There is a migration happening for the bar brands." Rin Supreme bar, the most premium bar in its category is being migrated as a Surf Excel bar. Considering Surf Excel is already a premium brand in powders, this move makes sense, according to industry observers.
While Rin is positioned on the whiteness platform, the communication exercise for the `new' surf Excel bar is expected to focus on both whiteness and stain removal, (earlier the USP of Surf Excel was stain removal), according to officials at HLL.
Lowe, the agency handling the Surf excel brand, has already released a campaign to highlight the `migration' exercise between the bar brands. In the commercial, a kid conveys the mixed news (bad news since Supreme bar is no longer going to be available and good news since Surf Excel bar is coming into the market). HLL officials said that the Rin Supreme bar is already a top-end bar and it helps when it is being migrated to an already premium brand such as Surf Excel.
In fact, HLL had mulled launching a Surf Excel bar for a while and its R&D department was actively exploring the possibility even before the Tide bar made its appearance. When P&G launched its Tide bar more than a year back, there was a strong possibility of HLL unveiling its Surf Excel bar to combat its nearest rival. In fact, P&G has deliberately pegged its Tide Bar (Rs 16.50 for 250 g), a notch lower than Rin Supreme bar (Rs 17 for 250 g) and both the brands are positioned on the `whitening' platform.
Besides, HLL re-launched the Rin brand of powders as Rin Advanced in the recent past (renaming its Rin Shakti brand) and discontinued with Rin Supreme powders, while its bars continued at the premium end of the `almost' stagnant bar category. Recently, it also introduced a jasmine variant under Rin Advanced and continues with a lesser priced bar under the same franchise.
Meanwhile, HLL has finally decided to enter the men's category under its largest selling skincare brand - Fair & Lovely. Mr Ashok Venkatramani, VP, Skincare, said, "We have a new brand of men's cream and are presently test-marketing the product in the Southern markets." Again, HLL is entering the men's fairness cream category at a time when players such as Emami (Fair and Handsome) and Garnier have already forayed into the market.
Explaining the strategy behind HLL's late entry, an FMCG analyst says, "HLL does not care if it comes in early or late. Its research for any brand is always a two-year process and after launching the brand, it decides to spend much more than competition just to capture the market."