Of Haldi, Chandan & all that makes Santoor

10 May,2012

Consistency in Communication: Anil Chugh, Senior VP, Wipro Consumer Care with a Santoor signage


By Tuhina Anand


Did you know that Santoor is the third largest soap brand in India? The brand, belonging to Wipro Consumer Care, has done well for itself by beating the international biggies and carving a niche for itself since it was launched in 1986. In the past 25 years, the run for the brand was not always so good, but a consistent and strategic communication has played a pivotal role in its success. Santoor is a Rs1,000 crore brand and has been growing at a CAGR of 23 per cent for the last five years.


The communication has always focused on ‘younger looking skin’, but the portrayal has changed with the times to appeal women, who were earlier seen as homemakers to now those who excel in various professions – mirroring the changing aspirations of Indian women.


Giving an insight into the Santoor story, Anil Chugh, Senior Vice President, Wipro Consumer Care, said: “Santoor is the third largest soap brand in India and the largest selling brand in the South + West India (value MS – 13.5 per cent). The ‘ageless skin’ campaigns and innovative marketing strategies have helped Santoor grow faster than the industry and gaining share over the years. One of the reasons for this is the consistency in communicating our core proposition of younger looking skin while keeping the message contemporary over the years. Also, our focus on providing the right value to the customer has contributed significantly to the brand’s success. The growth was also achieved on the back of a strong distribution network and communication in rural areas.”


He added: “The strength of Santoor has been its promise which is consistent, powerful and eternally relevant to consumers. For over 25 years, the brand has delivered on the promise of ‘younger looking skin’ through superior product offerings which have used deep acting and trusted natural ingredients. Our campaigns have reinforced this message consistently. Over the years, Santoor has carefully chosen celebrities to endorse the brand and it has worked well for the brand.”


While factors like distribution cannot be overlooked in the success of Santoor, the communication has been one of the key pillars. However, this was not the case always. MG Parameswaran, Executive Director & CEO, Draftfcb + Ulka elaborated: “When Ulka Advertising was assigned the brand in 1988, it was in a bit of a limbo, growth had stalled. The agency evolved the ‘younger looking skin’ and ‘mistaken identity’ as the key pillars for the brand. The advertising created history of sorts. The brand growth picked up momentum and Wipro has ensured that marketing money was well spent, through judicious correction in the messaging of the brand.”


“In 1989, Santoor was basically selling in two states of Kerala and Karnataka. It was selling a fraction of what brands like Hamam, Rexona, Cinthol and Liril were selling. By focussing advertising on one promise and evolving it over time, Santoor has become one of the top three soap brands in the country.


The advertising has evolved in many ways, but the core message of ‘natural ingredients for a young looking skin that will get you accolades’ has not changed. But the Santoor woman has evolved from being a pretty woman at a wedding to a confident woman who is doing aerobics, to a woman who plays cricket with her daughter, to a dress designer, to a TV anchor to a choreographer to a photographer. In a sense, the brand has reflected the aspirations of the new Indian woman,” added Mr Parameswaran.


He is very clear that the success of its communication is purely because it tells a timeless story that always appeals. As he puts it succinctly, Santoor is about consistency in communication that adds a new layer with every new piece.


In fact, as Santoor completes its 25 years, it has come out with a new campaign that is the Santoor anthem, giving it a contemporary look and feel yet telling the same story about a mother and daughter. The new advertising campaign features two ads – an anthem film that celebrates the achievement and pride of millions of Santoor women and a new theme film with new brand ambassadors – Saif Ali Khan and Mahesh Babu.


Over the past few years, Santoor has grown from a single soap brand to talcs, deodorants, soap variants, liquid soap, facewash and so on. Mr Chugh said: “We will continue with our quest to keep the brand relevant and contemporary even in the future. The aim of new campaign is to take the Santoor brand to the ‘next level’. We are constantly looking at consumer needs and expanding/enhancing the brand to meet such needs. The brand has grown ahead of the competition in its core states and is now trying to break out of its traditional stronghold and make quick gains in other markets.”


As a concluding note, Mr Parameswaran, who has been associated with the brand for almost two decades, said: “I am proud to have been associated with the brand for almost two decades. What is unique about the Santoor story is the great trust and regard this brand has spawned between the agency and client. It is has been a wonderfully rewarding experience and all of us in Draftfcb Ulka are proud of the association. It is not easy to take on large well-heeled multinational FMCG behemoths; we took them on and managed to find a place for Santoor under the Indian sun. The story is far from over. Santoor won against all odds and it will keep winning. I am sure of that.”


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