Priya Nair, Executive Director (Homecare), of Hindustan Unilever, firmly believes that premium products are not only for consumers in metro-cities. Nair proved this with 'premium' homecare products such as Comfort Conditioner and Surf Excel liquid detergent that led in the homecare category of the HUL growing by over 20 per cent. Homecare accounted for a third of HUL's total revenues of Rs 35,288 crore.
Nair says fabric conditioner Comfort sachets - that she has been pushing in rural markets - are her highest selling sachet SKUs. "People in rural India are increasingly investing in fabric conditioners as they lengthen the life of clothes, offer fragrance, and if you are a consumer who is concerned about how long your clothes last, it makes incredible sense for you to add fabric conditioner to your wash. Everybody wants their clothes to smell good, look nice, and last longer," she explains.
The scenario with liquid detergents is just as nice. Nair says with pride that 200 ml bottles of Surf Excel liquid sell like hotcakes in rural markets. "People find ways to include it in their budget because they use it for their special clothes, or for children's uniforms." Nair has also steered innovative product launches such as the Rin detergent variation for consumers who battle water shortage. The product claims to substantially reduce the water needed per wash.
With an eye to purposeful brand building, Nair laid down a three-pronged strategy for HUL's home care business - premiumisation, creating new segments, and finally creating products incorporating air and water purification. "The opportunity is to convert consumers from proxy or no practice to using a product," says Nair.