Hindustan Unilever (HUL) plans to rev up its anti-dandruff shampoo, Clear. The brand has been trailing Head & Shoulders from Procter & Gamble (P&G) by a large margin, despite its relaunch over a year before.
Head & Shoulders has an overall value share of about 15 per cent, while Clear, which was earlier Clinic All Clear, has about five per cent, according to analysts. By overall here, the reference is to share in the total shampoo market of Rs 3,600 crore.
In the anti-dandruff segment, 22 per cent of the overall shampoo market, Head & Shoulders has a value share of 58-59 per cent, while Clear has 35-36 per cent, say analysts. They are, respectively, number one and two in the anti-dandruff segment.
Gopal Vittal, executive director, home & personal care, HUL, admits “There is a job to be done on Clear. We would like to see Clear playing a stonger role in our portfolio.”
Adding: “Our hair category performance has been a source of pride for us. We continue to motor strongly on Dove. Clinic Plus, which was repositioned last year as a shampoo for long and strong hair, has done well, too, while Sunsilk has held on. Clear is one brand we are determined to turn around. We are working on some strong plans for it.”
Clear is, at the moment, endorsed by actress Bipasha Basu, with the advertising around the promise of ‘Zero Dandruff. Just Fabulous Hair’. Incidentally, a Clear ad featuring Basu was in the news recently, thanks to what appeared to be a muted reference to P&G’s Head & Shoulders in the commercial. P&G wrote to the Advertising Standards Council of India, which sought a response from HUL on the matter.
Entrenched No 1
Experts say breaking the stranglehold of Head & Shoulders, a strong P&G brand globally, may not be easy, given the promise of anti-dandruff plus beauty that the shampoo has been playing out to consumers in India. “It is not just an anti-dandruff shampoo,” says an executive with a fast moving consumer goods company, who did not wish to be named, since he is not authorised to speak with the media. “People use it as a regular shampoo, too.”
Typically, dandruff shampoos in India, say analysts, are perceived to be harsh, with consumers using it for some time, then moving on to allied beauty brands. Head & Shoulders’ positioning as dandruff plus beauty has helped it maintain leadership in the market, they say. P&G’s brand has a number of variants, too, including Smooth & Silky, Itchy Scalp Care, Anti-Hair Fall, etc. The product is priced at Rs 69 for a 90-ml bottle. Clear is also priced at Rs 69, but for a 100-ml bottle.
Clear has been revamping its formulation and launched five variants — Clear Active Care, Clear Ice Cool, Clear Hairfall Defense, Clear Soft Gloss and Clear Radiant Black. There is also a variant targeted for men, say persons in the know. “Even then, taking on Head & Shoulders may not be easy,” says the same FMCG executive. In reply to a mail, a P&G spokesperson said, “Like all our brands, Head & Shoulders will continue to focus on touching and improving the lives of more consumers, more completely.” She declined to divulge marketing plans, citing company policy.