Last year, while on a visit to a remote village in Tamil Nadu with her CEO Nitin Paranjpe, Priya Nair, Vice President, Detergents, Hindustan Unilever (HUL), got a surprise. She saw a bottle of HUL's Comfort Fabric Conditioner in the house of a poor farmer. Fabric conditioner, by any stretch of the imagination, was not considered a mass-market product.
This experience convinced Nair that there was a market for premium products even in rural India. "They may not use fabric conditioners every day, but some do use it once or even twice a month. As aspirations begin to change, consumers start upgrading," says Nair. As head of the more than $1 billion detergent business of HUL, the country's largest FMCG company, Nair is now betting on "premiumisation" to fuel further growth in the category. "I see this business moving forward on the premiumisation journey, but we also need to strike a balance between aspirations and reality," she says. One of her recent launches is Comfort One Rinse, a fabric conditioner that promises to save water while washing clothes.
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