March 12, 2013: After signing an MOU with the Madhya Pradesh government and completing a pilot project in the state, for a behaviour change program towards hand washing, HUL is planning to tie up and sign an MOU with BIMARU states to build franchise for its largest selling soap, Lifebuoy. States that constitute BIMARU states are Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh. The company is planning for these MOU’s as working closely with these states will help them in getting accessibility to villages and costs will be share.
HUL is targeting Lifebuoy in villages since the brand has witnessed a growth of more than 10 per cent in the rural markets in the last three years. Distributing free samples, showing films etc. are the ways in which Lifebuoy is being promoted in villages. The company expects the rural consumers to adopt Lifebuoy and buy bar soap replenishments after using the free samples and watching the film which advocates hand washing with soap as part of hygiene. Mostly the company expects small SKUs of Rs.5 and Rs.10 to gain traction.
The bar soap category in India has more or less saturated and the FMCG companies are now targeting rural markets for volume. It is bar soaps which are mostly preferred in rural markets and it is hand wash which brings in volume in the urban market. The company is entering into rural market with just one brand as they don’t want to confuse the people with too many brands. Lifebuoy is the market leader in the bar soap segment with 18 per cent volume share and comes second to Reckitt Benckiser which has its powerful Dettol brand in the market in the hand wash category.