- The FairGlow brand is part of its hygiene segment, which contributes 26% to the biz.
- Brands now want to distance their imagery so there is no confusion in the market.
Godrej Consumer Products Ltd (GCPL ), India’s second-largest soap maker, will drop the word “fair” from its range of soaps, tracking companies globally that have taken similar steps amid consumer complaints over racial stereotyping and calls for more inclusive products.
GCPL sells the FairGlow brand of soap under its hygiene category that includes soaps, hand washes and wipes, and it contributes 26% of GCPL’s global business.
“We didn’t invest behind FairGlow or we moved away from that brand with the very reason that other companies are doing that now,” Nisaba Godrej, Executive Chairperson and Managing Director, GCPL, told analysts after the company’s first quarter earnings on 4 August.
“It’s a minuscule brand for us and we’re actually sort of changing the name. I think it’s the right thing for the consumer, for us. All consumer product companies are now really doing this,” she added.
An email sent to Godrej Consumer did not elicit a response.
In June, India’s largest packaged consumer goods firm Hindustan Unilever Ltd (HUL) decided to drop the word “fair” from its over four-decade-old skincare brand Fair & Lovely, also the country’s largest selling face care brand.
Fair & Lovely was rebranded as Glow and Lovely in July. The men’s range of Fair & Lovely will be sold as Glow and Handsome.
According to sector analysts, a larger number of consumers are now reaching a self-actualization segment where they prefer to do things that are not only correct, but politically correct too. Therefore, words like fair or dark signifying skin colour are meant to be out. Thus, companies across the board are rethinking the use of anything which has a colour connotation.
“It is a sudden clean-up of brands which have not been too sensitive to the issue. Brands now want to distance their imagery so there is no confusion in the market. So while it is the purge of the word ‘fair’, it is also to distance imagery of different brands within the same market,” said Harish Bijoor, a brand expert and Head of Harish Bijoor Consults Inc.
In June, French beauty company L’Oreal said it will remove the words “white”, “fair”, and “light”, from all its “skin even-ing products”. Also, Johnson & Johnson announced plans to discontinue its range of Neutrogena Fine Fairness and Clean & Clear fairness product line in India.
Godrej’s FairGlow soap was launched in December 1999, when the decision to promote the fairness proposition as a soap made strategic sense in India, given soaps penetrated 95% of households, while creams reached only 25-30%.
Also, soaps cost less than creams, raising the convenience factor of using a fairness product at a lower cost.