Even as media continues to shower all its attention on the new age marketers in the e-commerce and technology space, the all-weather universal marketer of the country Hindustan Unilever has made some ground-breaking moves in reaching out, engaging and enthralling consumers. Heard of ‘Kan Khajura Tesan’? Well, it is a radio station broadcast in those nooks and corners of the country that even today are media dark. Since the consumers inhabiting these areas have no TV or radio, forget newspapers and magazines, brands have no way of reaching them. Enter HUL. Through research, the company learnt that for consumers living in the distant hinterland, the first device is a mobile phone and not a television or radio. HUL’s brand and marketing team, then, came up with the idea of launching a voluntary mobile radio service. All that consumers had to do was to give a blank call to a dedicated number and soon a service was activated on their handsets that allowed them to play pre-programmed content of popular music, jokes, etc., presented by a RJ. The content was interspersed with ads of different HUL brands.
With this one move, the company managed to not only reach consumers hitherto lost to the marketing world, it also struck a connect with them in a totally virgin, uncluttered environment.The Kan Khajura Tesan, so far, reaches more than 11 million subscribers in the hinterlands. An HUL spokesperson said the initiative has now been extended across India.
In yet another unique move, the company tied up with kirana stores for a unique caller tune that apprised the caller about the offers and deals on its products. HUL also roped in roadside street food sellers to sell their goodies in wrappers that had branding of HUL products all over them. The company also released a long form video online called “Tree of life” for its brand Lifebuoy. The film generated 12 million views from across the globe, out of which 2.4 million views were generated out of India alone. It was based on the insight that most mothers lose their children at an early age to infections like diarrhoea and pneumonia and how Lifebuoy could help prevent it.
Not just marketing, the year 2014 also marked the launch of several new products by the company. For instance, it rolled out premium ice cream Magnum in cities of Mumbai, Hyderabad, Bangalore and Pune after a successful pilot in Chennai. It also launched Axe signature body perfumes, Ponds Men and Close up Diamond attraction among others. The company is trying to keep step with changing times by building its e-commerce capacity in-house and is looking to work with online retailers in order to sell its goods via their digital networks. “HUL is my all weather top five marketer and brand builder and sustainer,” says Professor Arvind Sahay of IIM, Ahmedabad.
Management consultant Rama Bijapurkar however says that HUL has not created any new “made for India” brands that take advantage of the newer and enormous India or the unique opportunities in a country undergoing tremendous change. “It isn’t seen any more by people as the best problem solver, the way it did with Dalda and Fair & Lovely. It has, however, done phenomenal and pioneering innovative work in reaching people and gaining sales for what it has in its international stable. As a marketer brand rather than a consumer brand, it shines more.” she says.