Hindustan Unilever, right from the day the first consignment of Sunlight Soap hit the Kolkata harbour way back in 1888, has internalised the philosophy of what is good for the country is good for the company. In those days, the idea of selling Sunlight in India was not to make profits, but to make washing clothes for the Indian woman less monotonous.
Similarly, in the 70's, when there was a price regulation imposed on several categories, many MNCs decided to shut shop in India . HUL, despite incurring loss, decided to stay and work with the government. We launched a common man's soap (Janata Soap) at a low pricepoint and thus convinced the government to remove price control on soaps. We also set up factories in backward places such as Doom Dooma in Assam, Orai in U, as the government wanted large companies to contribute to the economy.
The India of today is completely different from the India of 1888 or the India of seventies. In the seventies, Ponds was a mere talcum powder and cold cream brand. Vaseline even five years ago was just a petroleum jelly brand. Today, Ponds is a premium skin care brand while Vaseline has a full range of men's grooming products. Today, we are trying to develop a business model which focusses on sustainability.
Our goal is to improve health and well-being, reduce environmental impact and source 100 per cent of our agricultural raw materials sustainably, and enhance the livelihoods of people across our value chain. We have set ourselves a deadline of 2020 to achieve this. We are going to launch products that are environment friendly. PureIt, our water purifier brand, which promises to make any kind of water drinkable, without using electricity, is a step towards that commitment.
CEO, Hindustan Unilever