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Brand Yatra: Fair & Lovely – from getting a life partner to getting a life

23-July-2009
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Brand Yatra: Fair & Lovely – from getting a life partner to getting a life

Brand: Fair & Lovely

Past and current agency: Lowe has been handling the business since its inception, which is almost 30 years old now.

Brand journey: The ubiquitous tube of Fair & Lovely has found its place in many households. There is no debating the fact that the brand has its loyal followers, who reach for it on the shop shelves even among the array of new entrants, both Indian and international. There is a trust factor that has been handed down over the decades, and communication has played an important role in making Fair & Lovely the brand it is today. Launched 30 years’ back, the product revolutionised the skincare market, being the first fairness cream in India.

Taking us down the memory lane, Srija Chatterjee, Senior Vice President, Lowe, explained, “It is known that fairness is a critical need for the South Asian skin, and it is this need that Fair & Lovely identified and offered it in an accessible form to the Indian consumers. At the time of launch, the critical task for Fair & Lovely was to tell consumers that it was a safe and efficacious skin cream, unlike the bleaches that were available in the market that were the only offerings that promised temporary fairness. Having established itself as a safe and efficacious fairness cream, Fair & Lovely then positioned itself as the cream that fulfilled one’s dreams and desires, articulated as the cream that helped you get the man of your dreams. The brand is now positioned as the cream that helps in turning dreams into destiny.”

Change in positioning over the years: Madhu Noorani, Executive Director, Lowe, further explained, “The brand’s positioning evolved based on the understanding of the evolving consumer. When the dreams and aspirations of the consumer were about getting the ‘right partner in your life’, the brand reflected that. Subsequently, the consumer evolved and even though getting the right man was still remained important, it became more important to achieve something substantial for self, to have a status change in life and to be more empowered. It is with this consumer understanding the central philosophy of Fair & Lovely has changed to women empowerment and allowing women to make their dreams their destiny and live life on their terms.”

With the reworked positioning with changing times, Fair & Lovely also launched the ‘Fair & Lovely Foundation’ that works towards getting girls in India better education by offering scholarships. The Foundation works on a basic premise that education is the pillar that one needs in order to get more empowered in life. Noorani continued, “Since this change in the positioning was stemming from true reflection of the evolving Indian consumer, the brand sales increased tremendously over the last eight years. The current market has witnessed launches from many local and international brands, yet Fair & Lovely has maintained its superiority and leadership even in this high competitive market scenario.”

Milestones for the brand

Launch phase – building efficacy and safety as it was the first brand that was offering real, tangible fairness. Romance phase – there were a series of films made on getting the man of one’s dreams. In addition, Fair & Lovely also spoke to the married women about keeping the spark in the marriage alive.

Destiny phase – this is the phase about achieving one’s dreams and desires. The key communications that epitomise this phase are the Airhostess ad, the Cricket ad and the Ayurveda ad.

Client’s perspective

Ajith Babu, Vice President - Regional Category, HUL, said, “At the core of quintessential definition of beauty for an Indian consumer is the desire for a fair skin. Fair & Lovely identified this need 30 years back to provide an efficacious and safe skin cream, which provides noticeable fairness and is now trusted by over 600 million consumers.”

He continued, “Being a true iconic brand, Fair & Lovely has retained its essence yet reflected the changing desires of its consumers. So, when the dreams and aspirations of the consumer were about getting the ‘right partner in your life’, the brand reflected that. And as consumers desired an expression of self achievement, brand empowered them with the power to change your destiny. As evident, at the heart of Fair & Lovely is its long standing commitment to women empowerment. It is this un-wavering commitment that has resulted in Fair & Lovely being the world’s No. 1 skin Lightening cream.”

The road ahead

Babu said, “Fair & Lovely will always reflect the emerging desires of its consumers keeping in mind larger societal trends. To illustrate, as our part of the world experiences women emancipation, Fair & Lovely will encourage the acceptance of a greater role of women in our society.”

Challenges, if any

“The recent debut of international brands in the Indian beauty market would mean Fair & Lovely faces stiffer competition. The challenge is being successfully met by ensuring we remain true to the tenets that have made consumers trust and love the brand,” he added.

Marketing and communications lessons

According to Lowe’s Srija Chatterjee, “The key to Fair & Lovely’s success has been to re-invent itself basis the changing needs of the consumer. It is critical to keep a pulse on the evolving consumer and tune the communication and positioning to encompass that.”

What’s your take?

Rajeev Raja, Creative Head, DDB Mudra, said, “I certainly think that the reworked positioning is politically more correct and relevant in today’s society. It is also a socially better message, and empowerment definitely has a positive stance. The earlier stance of implying that dark skin would not help in getting a good groom was regressive and didn’t fit well with changing times. The brand has evolved and messages such as liberation and empowerment are definitely a better territory for brand to operate on.”

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