Posted in Marketing & Strategy Articles, Total Reads: 23040
, Published on 05 April 2012
Visit any departmental store or retail outlet, and you find its shelved stocked with Lux Beauty soaps in different variants, with attractive colours on the packaging and its permanent sign of the female model present on the package. Today, Lux is a household name when it comes to soaps and in many places (especially in rural areas), it has become a synonym for soaps. People often walk into a shop and ask for Lux, when they mean, that they wish to buy a soap.
The Lux soap was first launched as laundry soap way back in 1916, with specially targeting the delicate garments. The Level Brothers (who found what we today know as Unilever), encouraged women to do their laundry at home without worrying about those delicate silks and satins turning yellow which often came as a result of the strong and harsh chemicals present in the laundry soaps of that time. Lux at that time was much more gentle on the clothes, it dissolved much more easily and was advertised as being suitable for home use.
The Lux toilet soap as we know today came around in 1925. It was advertised as a bathroom soap, and the initial name “Sunlight flakes” was changed to Lux, which is the Latin word for “Light” and was supposed to be a shortened version of the word “Luxury”. From 1925 till date, Lux has been marketed in various forms – Soaps, Limited Editions, Bars, Flakes, Liquids, Gels and Body washed.
In India, Lux was launched in 1929, and it has always come in various colours and packages as well as world-class fragrances. These changes kept coming with changing fashion trends. In 1958, the soap came in five colours – pink, blue, white, yellow and green, and the customers would buy the soaps in a way that they could match it with the colours of their bathrooms!
Lux has always used popular movie stars as its brand endorsers. Even if the ad went around common women, it still had references to some or the other movie star.
The year-wise brand image of the soap can be described as –
The 30s: This is when the widespread advertising of the product began. At this time, Lux used much older women, who would talk about preserving the youthful beauty of the skin in the series of print ads that came during this time.
The 40s and the 50s: In this era, the focus shifted to the attributes that the consumers associated with the brand and the role the brand played in her life.
The 60s: It was in this decade that the “Fantasy Element” that we commonly associate Lux with today was created, more simply put as the feeling of being a film star that the soap generates. The campaigns began highlighting the sensorial and emotional attributes of the brand along with the beauty quotient. The ads did not contain a star, but contained references to them.
The 70s: This was a time when they beauty trends shifted from the then conventional ones. Natural and wholesome beauty became the buzz. So, the stars of Lux stepped down from the pedestals they stood on before and the campaign focus began to highlight the multi-faceted nature of a woman, which the ordinary consumer of the soap was better able to relate to at the time.
The 80s: by this time Lux had established itself as the soap of the stars and elite and its image became one of a must-have for beauty among all women. The campaigns of the 80s started focusing on skincare, which was portrayed to be the first step towards beauty. It was during this time that Lux was launched in China.
The 90s: During this time, Lux moved away from being a general beauty soap to launching soaps in the market that were more function specific. Variants for different skin types also came in. The communication strategy started becoming more localized and regionalized. Different ad campaigns for different regions (say, Middle East, China, etc) started coming in. It was also during this period that Lux went in for brand extension and launched its range of Rich shampoos, shower gels and creams.
The 2000s: By now, Lux had expanded so far and wide, that the other end was not visible from one end. This decade saw the focus of the campaigns and the product shift from specific functional benefits of usage to the emotional factor associated with the soaps. By this time, modelling and fashion industry had drawn a lot of dreams in the eyes of millions of women. Cashing in on this, Lux tried to bridge up those aspiring models and the existing stars of the industry. Notable was the “Lux Haute Pink” advertisement, with the woman in the bath tub, flying over the world in a hot air balloon and spreading the beauty by blowing down bubbles from her tub. It focused not only on beauty but the confidence that beauty generates in a woman. Versions like Crystal Shine, Festive Glow, Sunscreen, Almond Extracts, Orchid extracts, etc. Came in during this time.
The 2010s: Today, the focus is back on beauty – which has been the roots of the product. The fruit versions of the soap – Strawberry and cream, Peach and cream are quite popular. New variants – Purple lotus and cream, and Aqua Sparkle had been launched at reality shows on televisions which is a new development in the basket of marketing strategies of the soap.
Lux has always had the most beautiful women in the film industry endorsing the brands. If we see internationally, there have been Marilyn Monroe, Sophia Loren, Raquel Welch, Cheryl Ladd, Demi Moore, Brigitte Bargot, Natalie Wood, Sandra Dee, Diana Rig, Samantha Eggar, Sarah Jessica Parker, Catherine Zeta Jones, etc. If we see in India, then the first print ad of Lux came starring Leela Chitnis. After that there have been a string of leading ladies – Madhubala, Nargis, Meena Kumari, Mala Sinha, Sharmila Tagore, Waheeda Rehman, Saira Banu, Hema Malini, Zeenat Aman, Juhi Chawla, Madhuri Dixit, Sridevi, ashwarya Rai, Karishma Kapoor, Kareena Kapoor, Babita, Priyanka Chopra, Katrina Kaif, Mahima Choudhry, etc. In fact, Lux would be perhaps the only women’s beauty soap brand which has had male models endorsing it. This came when Paul Newman (internationally) and Shah Rukh Khan and Abhishek Bachchan (Indian) endorsed the brand. It can thus be said, that the USP of Lux advertising is the presence of popular movie stars in it. The positioning of the brand can be said to be according to the Reference Group by using the famous celebrity at that point of time. Partially attribute positioning can also be considered for Lux, since the ingredients of Lux have also been greatly highlighted. Today, Lx also serves as a sponsoring brand name for so many awards and functions like the popular Lux Zee Cine awards, making its positioning of being associated with the stars more prominent.
Today, Lux beauty bar can be regarded to be in the maturity stage of its life cycle.
Lux has always had the leading actors of their times endorse the brand, which has made Lux the market leader and the brand has indeed set benchmarks for competition in the market. Today, Lux is manufactured at more than 71 locations and has more than 2000 suppliers and associates who provide raw materials for its manufacture. The key markets of Lux lie in Pakistan, Brazil, USA, China, Bangladesh & South Africa. Lux is also the market leader in Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Brazil and Thailand. It is also one of the most trusted brands in India. Lux has offerings in two of the four market segments for soaps. These are popular and premium. The popular segment covers all those soaps that we generally see sitting on our retail outlet shelves – Strawberry and Cream, Peach and cream, Purple Lotus and cream, etc. The Premium segment covers the Lux International range.
The novel metallic substrate packaging of Lux has been characteristic of the soaps with the same font style of writing the brand name that go back as far as any of us can remember, coupled with the ingredient linked fragrances of the soap have been written down memories of so many generations.
Sales promotion is essential for any brand to move ahead in the market. Lux has resorted a wide array of sales promotion measures, most of which have been short term. They are designed in a fashion to get a quick response. The advertising has given consumers a reason to buy Lux, while the sales promotion tactics have given consumers an incentive to buy Lux. The Lux Gold Star Offer, Lux Star Bano Aish Karo, Lux Har Star Lucky Star, etc have been popular sales promotion activities of the brand. The gold star offer involved presence of gold coins inside the soap in few selected soaps.
The star bano Aish karo offer involved 50 lucky winners who got a chance to live a day like Aishwarya Rai would along with their spouses, gift vouchers for Stoppers’ Stop worth Rs 50000, exclusive Neeta Lulla sarees and beauty makeovers by Michelle Tung (who is Aishwarya Rai Bachchan’s preferred stylist and designer). The bumper prize was a dinner date with Aishwarya herself. The same offer was also there for a dinner date with Aishwarya and Abhishek later. The Har Star Lucky Star offer came in when Lux finished 75 years of stardom. At that time, the Shah Rukh Khan ads had come on air. The offer involved stars printed insdie the wrapper of the soap with a number written in the star. If 75 years was found written in the star, then the consumer with the wrapper would get a year’s free supply of Lux.
Bringing out limited editions of the product has been a popular way of attracting attention and promoting sales. Lux has also taken this up and has come up with limited editions soaps, like the Haute Pink, Festive Glow, Chocolate Seduction, Aromatic Glow, etc.
SWOT Analysis for LUX:
The SWOT analysis for Lux helps identify the external environment faced by Lux, and the opportunities and threats that it presents.
Lux possesses a very strong network of market research. Door to door surveying and sampling is done annually in rural as well as urban areas selectively.
Lux has a very wide range of products to offer.
The parent company of Lux has helped in establishing a strong supply and distribution network. Besides, it also has access to the resources of the parent company of Unilever.
Lux possesses a very strong brand image in the market.
The focus of Lux is going strong on beauty segment.
Lux is a dynamic brand and is undergoes changes as per the changes in demand and trends, which is evident from the launch of the new range of body washes – Magical Spell, Scarlet Blossom, Strawberry & cream and Peach and cream have been launched with the tag line of the secret to liquid silk skin.
The brand has innovative sales promotions tactics that spread across different forms of media – print, electronic and social.
The brand is known to deliver value-for-money in the eyes of the consumers.
It has a broad market presence and mass appeal, being the market leader in so many countries. As per the BCG matrix, developed by the Boston Consulting Group, Lux can be put into the STAR category for high market growth and high market share.
Lux lacks a unisex appeal as it has essentially been portrayed as a women’s beauty soap and has a lot of feminine appeal.
The wear rate of the soap is very high. It gets dissolved pretty fast and gets mushy and soggy quickly.
Certain variants of the soap, like the Haute Pink, Sunscreen, etc did not do so well in the market as some of its other variants have.
Some of its advertisements have been quite controversial, specially the one with Shah Rukh Khan in the bath tub, and the one of Haute Pink soap with the model in the bath tub flying up in the air in a hot air balloon.
The stock replenishment in semi-urban areas and rural areas is quite long, despite having such a wide distributor network. This leads to stock out in these areas.
The industry today, is growing at a rate of more than 10% per annum.
The compounded annual growth rate, better known as CAGR is also rising at a steep pace. This is evident from the performance of Fair and Lovely in its segment. So, Lux can yield great benefits by reinforcing itself in the beauty segment.
Promotions strategies like kiosks, price offs, sample distributions, etc are essential with competitors like ITC, etc catching up fast.
The soap, as mentioned above, is in the maturity stage of its life cycle. So it is essential that a retentive strategy be adopted so that this can be sustained.
Ayurvedic variant of Lux could have a big scope in the market. So far, the only variant of Lux that has somewhat come close to Ayurveda, though not actually is the festive glow variant, which had the goodness of haldi and chandan ubatan. This could cater to a new segment in the market.
A Lux Kids Special soap would also help the brand greatly, as this segment has been running dry for quite some time now. In this way, brand loyalty could be caught young!
The brand extension products of Lux – the body washes, with its new range launched recently, is in the growth stage of its life cycle. They can pick up fast pace is positioned and marketed properly. Active marketing of these body washes is going on in the social media.
During the sales promotions schemes, the level of servicing goes very high and this needs to be brought down.
Lux has only near about 20% penetration in rural markets. Lux holds great scope if it taps the rural markets.
Number of competitors is rising – ITC, P&G, etc are fast catching up.
High internal competition also exists for the soap.
Lux seems overly relied on the beauty segment, so in case the consumer trends or preferences change, then Lux stands to be highly vulnerable.
More focus needs to be put on the newer technology – currently body washes being the latest technology. This can already be seen in the market, but it needs to be enforced further.
If constant reinvention is not there, then Lux can slip down from the maturity stage it currently is in and get into a declining phase.
Thus, Lux is a soap that so many generations grew up using, so much so that, today the term “soap” and “Lux” are used interchangeably in so many households. However, it never takes much time for a bubble to break and yet it could be impossible to break a strong bubble. With appropriate marketing strategies and developments, Lux could not only retain its alpha position but also climb further up the ladder before any of the competitors got to catch up or come close to it.
This article has been authored by Bhavi Patel from IRMA.