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From skincare products for acid attack victims to gender diversity, India Inc moves towards inclusive brands

The definition of purpose-led brand building is now moving beyond protecting the environment, building toilets or incorporating gender diversity in the workforce

twitter-logoAjita Shashidhar | January 10, 2020 | Updated 16:37 IST
From skincare products for acid attack victims to gender diversity, India Inc moves towards inclusive brands
ITC's antiseptic brand Savlon with braille packaging

In 2018, ITC's antiseptic brand, Savlon, rolled out braille packs to help its visually impaired consumers. The launch coincided with an ad campaign which showed a blind woman getting herself first aid by touching a pack of Savlon which had braille packaging, after cutting her finger while chopping vegetables. More recently, Kolkata headquartered, FMCG company, RSH Global (which owns the Joy brand of skincare products) has launched Joy Sensitive, a range of skincare products which targets acid attack victims. The launch coincides with Deepika Padukone's new film, Chhapaak, which depicts the life of acid attack victim, Lakshmi Agarwal.

The skincare range, meant for hypersensitive skin that has gone through an acid burn, includes a body lotion, face wash and sun-screen.

Sunil Agarwal, Chairman RSH Global, says that "This is our way of contributing to the lives of people who have been affected by this heinous crime. The idea is not to be sympathetic, but enable them to lead a normal life".

The definition of purpose-led brand building is now moving beyond protecting the environment, building toilets or incorporating gender diversity in the workforce. The trend now is to build inclusive brands. Savlon and Joy are not the only ones, corporate India has more such examples. The Titan Company's youth brand, Fastrack, has a range of general neutral perfumes, M.A.C Cosmetics has recently launched The Brant Brothers, a unisex make-up range.

Similarly, personal care start-up, Super Smelly, has recently launched gender-neutral face packs which can be used by men, women and even by the LGBTQ community.

Dipali Mathur Dayal, Co-Founder, Super Smelly, says that barring a shaving cream which requires a specialised formulation other most skincare products for men and women don't require different formulations. "Our brand caters to the GenZ who understand inclusivity. Therefore, we have tried to break stereotypes."   

While Indian brands are just about getting there, inclusivity in the western world has become a way of life. From coming up with products that appeal to various races and ethnicities to creating products that are disabled-friendly or are meant for the LGBT community, brands are using 'inclusivity' as a differentiator.

In fact, marketers today say that they are listening to their customers much more than they ever did, and the millennial customer wants to be associated with brands that have a purpose. American retailer, Target, launched an apparel line, Cat & Jack, that creates adaptive products for kids with disabilities. The idea is supposed to have come from a mother of a disabled child who voiced the desire for her child to be included.

Similarly, Nike has Nike Pro Hijab, a more comfortable headgear for women athletes who need to use a hijab while participating in a tournament.

Inclusivity has become a key agenda of the colour cosmetic industry. M.A.C Cosmetic's unisex make-up line is just an example. One of the most talked cosmetic brand is Barbadian singer Robyn Rihanna's Fenty Beauty which lived up to its promise of being an inclusive brand by launching 40 shades of foundation that suited skin types of various races and communities. The strategy enabled Fenty Beauty to ensure $100 million in sales within the first 40 days of operation.

Coming back to the Indian personal care brand, Joy, the company's Chairman, Agarwal, calls it a new range of products meant for acid attack victims as purpose-led brand-building and he is not looking at ROIs. "My entire team was so excited about this range and they knew very well that this was not a ROI-based initiative. Everyone wanted to be part of a larger purpose."

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