Change the Face of Advertising For Fairness Category in India


The Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) recently drafted new guidelines which could potentially change the face of advertising for the fairness category in India.

These guidelines will affect some of the biggest brands in the category which will need to find new interpretations of beauty for Indian consumers. Today, beauty has become a very personalised category for consumers who expect their identities to reflect in their choices. The challenge for brands is to create personalities in order to attract a specific set of consumers.

Beauty category is an intriguing one with various ways to interpret the category such as archetypes and models like segmentation, behavioural and psychographic. Here we analyse the category using Brand Asset Valuator (BAV®), Rediffusion Y&R’s global brand diagnostic tool. We look at different dimensions of beauty among females and look at how brands are classified into these in India.

We find that there are six dimensions of beauty which exist in India. The first consists of brands with energy and dynamism which are perceived by consumers to be daring and different from others. We call this dimension as ‘Bold’. Fair & Lovely, which is the biggest skin care brand in the country, falls in this dimension.

Consumers associate the brand with the confidence and success which comes with fair skin in India. The brand has consistently shown women how to transcend social barriers and as a results is associated with the ‘Bold’ dimension. The next dimension of beauty is ‘Inventive’ where we see brands associated with innovation and providing unique proposition to the consumers.

Inventive brands attract early adopters and could be a good way to involve them with the brand. For example, Nivea Whitening Deo combined whitening benefits for underarms along with fragrance. Chik exploded the shampoo market by innovating packaging format through sachets. Dabur Gulabari Cream takes the myth of gulabjal in Indian ethos and provides consumers with a unique proposition.While some brands communicate energy or innovation, some focus of getting the basics right and delivering the core benefits to consumers.

This ‘No-Nonsense’ dimension of beauty has brands like Vicco Turmeric which has enhanced the proposition of Ayurveda over years. These consumers have a simple and straightforward approach and prefer tradition and reliability. Another example in the ‘Non-Nonsense’ dimension is Bajaj Almond Drops. Then there is the dimension of ‘Genuine’ where brands stand for trust and authenticity as well as claim delivery of performance and quality. It is interesting to see brand like Dove which stands for “real beauty” or Pears which talks of “masoom twacha” use their communication to enliven their ‘Genuine’ dimension among consumers.

The next dimension consists of brands which own class and prestige along with delivering style and glamour. This ‘Posh’ dimension would attract premium consumers who also demand social standing among peers. Brands like Estee Lauder, Lancome, Maybelline and Artistry get classified in this dimension. Finally, some consumers would like a dash of fun and charm in their lives and expect their beauty brands to deliver the same. These brands fall in the ‘Flirty’ dimension of the beauty category. Some of the brands in this dimension are Lux and Garnier.

Using the BAV model globally, we find that there are two more dimensions of beauty viz. ‘Avant-Garde’ and ‘Nurturing’. However, these dimensions are as yet nascent in India and would emerge in coming years.


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