Born: 1929, in India, as a bathing soap
History: Owned by global consumer products giant Unilever Plc., the parent company of Hindustan Unilever Ltd (HUL)
Status: Enjoys more than 17% market share in the premium soaps market valued at Rs6,000 crore
Brand story: What is the common seductive link between Hollywood actor Paul Newman, Bollywood actors Shah Rukh Khan and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan and All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam chief J. Jayalalithaa? They have all tried selling a soap at some point or the other.
And the soap is Lux, the premium beauty soap from consumer products company HUL. “Lux has been the epitome of beauty for the Indian woman and inspires all women in India to enjoy the process of beautifying without any constraints,” says Srikanth Srinivasamadhavan, category head, personal wash, HUL.
Lux—derived from the word luxury— was launched in 1899 as a laundry soap in the UK. In 1925, the brand was extended to the toilet soap category. It was positioned as a beauty soap in India, and HUL has since used successful film actors of the time—such as Leela Chitnis, Madhubala, Hema Malini and Kareena Kapoor—to endorse the product.
Lux’s secret of longevity has been its consistent evolution—be it the soap colour, packaging or new variants, the brand has banked on innovation to keep its youthful image intact. Extending the soap cake to a range of shower gels, liquid soaps and moisturizing bars has helped the brand keep consumers excited and the competition at bay.
What has not changed is the consistency in its communication and its positioning.
Its tag lines—If it’s good enough for a film star, then it’s good for you too to Play with beauty—have conveyed the same message over the years. “Lux is a brand like Mills & Boon. While the packaging and content could change, the romance angle doesn’t. It taps into an emotion very close to humanity’s basic need—social interaction.
The brand has always hired celebrities when they have reached a certain height rather than using them at the start of their careers. This avoids the issue of celebrities overshadowing the brand,” says Agnello Dias, national creative director, JWT, which handles the account.