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HUL Growing With Changing India

As consumers in India aspire for more, look for cleaner and healthier lifestyles, Priya Nair, Executive Director, Home Care, HUL, gets busier in formulating solutions that impact the very quality of living, by straddling the consumer pyramid

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Driven by its laundry segment, home care is the second largest contributing category to HUL’s overall revenues. Together with another component of the category, which is household, home care is enabling HUL to bring in new consumers in its fold at the very base level, while also adding brands at the top end.

This quarter HUL saw strong growth in premium laundry. Surf, HUL’s largest brand maintained volume-led growth momentum.

“Laundry has been a great story of transformation and change,” says Priya Nair, Executive Director, Home Care, HUL. We have had a fundamental transformation in the portfolio itself and led premiumisation in the category. Detergents in India are ubiquitous. Value creation in a highly penetrated category like detergents will come from upgradation from mass products,” explains Nair.

Changing Behaviour

In a country where consumers have rising aspirations, HUL’s brand Surf Excel offered consumers higher order benefits and also launched new formats in the category such as detergent liquids. It also created the fabric softener category with brand Comfort.

More recently, HUL used technology to bring out its purpose-driven philosophy with Rin. The organisation has developed a product technology that halves the water that is used in the rinsing process. “New Rin gives consumers dazzling bright clothes while reducing the water consumption, which is so relevant in a water scarce country like ours,” says Nair. “With products like Rin, we will impact the water consumption not just in our supply chain but also in the end consumer use, which is a significant portion of our overall footprint of water,” Nair points out.

Both the market dynamics and the consumers in India are changing. Much effort in the country is being made towards building toilets but the real challenge is in getting people to use them. “The work we do as Unilever leads to building categories, and this requires behaviour change. As more toilets are built, there are more surfaces to clean, and this will have a direct impact on our brands. Our focus is on creating solutions that encourage consumers to use toilets. The more you observe this space, the more growth opportunities are visible,” says Nair. 

The Message In The Brand

A recent example would be our newest Comfort ad, where a mother is shown with her son and daughter, after she notices that they are conditioned to assume that laundry would be something that the daughter will have to learn. By going beyond just washing to conditioning clothes using the fabric softener, she astutely changes her son’s thinking by saying that both the daughter and the son need to learn the washing process. The message, ‘chota step, badi baat’ implies that one extra step in using Comfort can give great benefit in washing, and that one small lesson from the mother, asking the son to learn this, is a big step towards impacting the social conditioning on gender.”

Applying USLP In Home Care

Given the scale and complexity of water, sanitation and hygiene challenges in India, it is imperative that all stakeholders come together to make a meaningful difference. HUL’s partnerships with several stakeholders aim to leverage the power of collective action to realise the Swachh Bharat vision. This will also enable India to contribute to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal of ensuring availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.

Over 130 million people have been reached through HUL’s water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) initiatives. HUL’s WASH initiatives are spearheaded by its brands Lifebuoy, Pureit and Domex. Lifebuoy handwashing behaviour change initiatives help in promoting the benefits of handwashing with soap at key times during the day and encouraging people to sustain good handwashing behaviours. Till date, HUL has reached over 63 million people in India. Pureit water purifiers have been working towards making safe drinking water accessible and affordable. In India, Pureit has provided over 74 billion litres of safe drinking water till date. Domex Toilet Academy (DTA) is a market-based entrepreneurial model launched by HUL in 2014. Currently operational in Bihar, the DTA programme trains entrepreneurs and masons to help build and maintain toilets; provides access to micro-financing and creates demand for sanitation in low-income households. So far, over a lakh toilets have been built, benefitting over 6 lakh people.

The flagship ‘Swachh Aadat Swachh Bharat’ programme is in line with the government’s Swachh Bharat Abhiyan (Clean India Mission) and aims to promote good health and hygiene practices by stressing the need to adopt three simple good habits: 1) Washing hands with soap five times a day; 2) Using a toilet for defecation and keeping it clean; and 3) Adopting safe drinking water practices.

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