Introduction: Why Lakmé’s Victory Story is the Ideal Innovation for ‘Make in India’
It was the year 1971 when Pakistan had just capitulated the liberation war, giving rise to a contemporary country, Bangladesh. Assembling on the patriotic ardor that was all entirely around her; a 19-year-old girl Meeta Shah from the location of Bhavnagar, Gujarat, made a mind to purchase a native make-up product for her own by demanding her father to provide her Rupees 5 which was a quite big amount in those days.
“Papa, I want to buy a compact which is made by a native or swadeshi brand known as Lakmé. Do you know the innovation behind this brand was Chacha Nehru?” she inquired. After a minute of inspection, her father voluntarily accepted her daughter’s request. She then added the money to her piggy bank, and then the total amount which he made was Rupees 30, which was just enough for Meeta to get a compact. She started to give countless oil massages to her granny. With her one oil massage, her granny used to give him 25 paise and an unbelievable dedication for just a single cosmetic product.
However, she was one of few girls in her area who took a daring step to imbue money in makeup products, something that was glared upon in past days. But less did Meeta know she was donating to a fully Indian brand, Lakmé, which found its origin in the after-effects of India’s self-government from the British Raj to upgrade our unsteady economy.
In 2017-2018 Lakmé which is now renowned by Hindustan Unilever (HUL), traversed rupees 1,000-crore streaked in sales in Indian Rupees 97,000 crore in the beauty market. So, this is how the desi Indian brand captured the Indian market and made cosmetics reasonable for middle-income households is described below.
The ‘Self-reliant’ India
After India got attendance, its economy was frangible. Like other industries, the Indian Cosmetic Market also anticipated heavily on international brands. The swelling middle and elite class was depleting on imported cosmetics and this had an undeviating effect on India’s foreign exchange conserves. Surprised by this, then the Prime Minister of India Jawaharlal Nehru, greeted industrialist Jehangir Ratanji Dadabhoy Tata in 1950 to establish a native cosmetic brand.
The company was started as an auxiliary of Tata Oil Mills and after ample deliberation, it was named ‘Lakmé’, an English contemplative of the goddess of prosperity and beauty — Goddess Laxmi. Legends say that the intention behind having a tropical name was that Laxmi would not resound with the proposition of beauty, according to a western phenomenon. That was the time when the concept of beauty exists in desi households whirled around ‘Dadi Ke Nuskhe’ or just bound with a talcum powder. So, Laxmi would have been turned down to so-called another local product.
Incidentally, Lakmé also transpires to be a French opus. Being the trader of beauty and skin products, Lakmé bowled out a team of genuine experts and researchers who ascertained the necessities for an Indian skin tone. The packaging was designed to be dignified to be at creation with the international equivalents.
How Lakmé Industries acquired their Growth
At a time when make-up was contemplated as a restriction in India, as an only woman with an ‘adulterate character’ and had kohl-edged eyes and scarlet red lips, the proliferated brand needed tactics that would assist the products in making. This is when Simone Naval Tata trampled in. The Swiss-born wife of Naval H. Tata took on the arduous task of defining beauty in the 1960s. Her inherent agony for beautiful attires and imported make-up brands helped in ascending the process.
While her visit abroad she used to collect samples and provide those to the chemist to create the specification. She had a voguish cousin in Paris. When she visited Paris her father gave her money to buy dresses but she didn’t spend that money. Instead of it, she went to a beauty parlor with her cousin to learn professional make-up; skincare and texture process, etc. In one word, she studied cosmetics. It was an evolution for her; Simone reported Rediff in a 2007 interview.
As reported in a Vogue article, Simone then met finance minister, Dr. Man Mohan Singh, to resolve the issue. So, the finance minister told Simone to bring the signatures of those people who perceived such a high levy duty was not fair. And Simone did. In the prospering Union Budget meet, the levy duty was lessening down.
What made the company Lakmé Bearable
Simone was influential in introducing almost all of the Lakmé cosmetics like mascara, nail polish, lipstick, compact, foundation, toner, and many more. Besides selling affordable products, the company also concentrated on generating a brand image via its hostile marketing tactics.
Moreover, their very first advertisement was a combination of novelty, Indian ness. Lakmé’s first brand face was model Shyamoli Verma, an idol in the early 80s. The company then also wanted a familiar face in their educational campaign, which aimed at breaking the social taboo around cosmetics.
Embellished with the make-up products of Lakmé, Simone also played Indian classical musical instruments like sitar, flute, and gave a tagline which is like — ‘If color is to beauty what music is to mood, play on’.
After all this; they attached India’s followership for big Bollywood beauties and tied in actresses such as the ever-elegant Rekha, and later in 1994 Miss World, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, was the brand ambassador.
Conclusion: Currently Lakmé
Then Tata sold Lakmé to Hindustan Unilever; which was one of the quick extending companies in the FMCG sector in the year 1996. Today, the company has almost 300 diverse products that are sold in more than 70 countries all over the world. Their price range starts from Rupees 100 to the most expensive of rupees 1,000, serves to each kind of spectator.
Despite the liquidator competitions from homespun in addition to international cosmetic brands, Lakmé has been directed to blossom in the industry over the years. It is one of those brands that have altered society in many ways.
For Meeta, Lakmé is her trademarked brand for even today. For years she has seen it to establish and to be accepted in society. Although while many erroneously associated the 70 years old native brand as ‘foreign’ for Meeta; it will consistently be a loyalist gift for her.
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