Sandal, turmeric and surprise on the onlookers’ faces when it is revealed that the fresh-faced protagonist is actually a young mother — these three have remained the key ingredients of the communication plan of Wipro Consumer Care & Lighting’s (WCCL) flagship orange soap brand Santoor for decades now.
A new advertisement accompanying the brand’s relaunch earlier this month doesn’t deviate from the beaten track. What is new is the embedded “Young Soch” narrative. S Prasanna Rai, vice-president of marketing at WCCL, says, “The universal truth, across age groups and strata, is that everyone likes being appreciated for looking young. This is the background of our ‘mummy ad’. We have added a contemporary narrative to that message.”
KV Sridhar, founder & CCO, Hyper Collective, says consistency pays: “Brand building is nothing but people working on a brand day after day after day. Santoor’s campaign is like the ‘safety’ factor of a Volvo. They’re just making it more contemporary, adding different angles.”
The brand has grown steadily over the past 30 years. In FY22, it became a
2,300 crore-plus brand, and contributes a sizable portion to the firm’s overall revenue of8,634 crore. It registered a 14.8% growth in FY21. “We plan to become national number 1 in the next 2-3 years,” Rai says. WCCL says Santoor is already number 1 in states such as Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Telangana, Karnataka and Maharashtra.
The soap category in India enjoys 100% penetration. Rai says, “We can grow only by increasing brand share. It’s thus important for brands in this space to be consistent with their positioning.”
The soap market is highly organised, being one of the oldest categories in the overall FMCG market. It accounts for more than 50% of the consumer goods sector revenue, according to research firm Research and Markets. The bath soaps category is segmented into beauty and hygiene sub-categories. Santoor falls under the first, which makes up half of the overall soap market, according to Research and Markets.
Around 50% of soaps produced in the country are sold in rural markets. The government’s emphasis on Swachh Bharat and the onset of the pandemic have given sales a huge filip. Manufacturers are targeting low-income groups to improve volumes. Out of around 5 million retail outlets in India that sell soaps, 3.75 million operate in rural areas.
Santoor’s positioning as a soap bar with cooling agents and herbal ingredients have helped it woo customers who want to avoid harsh chemicals, say observers.
The firm’s new ad features women in the role of math professors, CEOs, boxers, pilots, and Ph.D. students, and some of them are accompanied by their toddlers. “When you can look young, why can’t you have young thoughts?” says the voiceover in the new campaign, adding, “Santoor. Look young. Think young.”
Samir Sinha, brand consultant at Alchemist Consultants, says the campaign works on three levels. “At the most basic level, Santoor has been consistent with its sandalwood and turmeric ingredient story. This has ascribed a certain legacy to the brand,” he says. On the second level, its consistent communication has translated this feature to a “functional benefit”. “Keeping your skin young will always be a relevant benefit. It is timeless. This leads to the third level, which is to link the idea of young skin to an age group not associated with the same, such as mothers,” he sums up.
Young mothers, in fact, are a key consumer segment for the brand. “Our target group is a woman between 20 and 30 years of age. In metros, a 25-year-old would be working or studying but in rural areas, many are married and have a toddler. We don’t want to alienate either, and the proposition for young-looking skin works for both. The unifying factor is ‘young soch’,” says Rai.