Hind Lever Hooks Hrithik

Published On: 2012-03-23

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Hind Lever hooks Hrithik Roshan to boost sales

India's second-largest company by market value, Hindustan Lever Ltd, has roped in movie icon Hrithik Roshan as a part of its plan to boost sales by focusing on the top 30 of its 110 brands. 

The youthful Bollywood star will promote Lever's Close-Up brand of toothpaste, which has a 20 per cent share in India's Rs 12-billion toothpaste market, Debjit Rudra, Lever's marketing manager for oral care products, said on Friday. 

"Close-Up has always been identified as a youthful brand. Our new Close-Up campaign seeks to strengthen and connect with today's youth." 

On Thursday, Lever chairman M S Banga said that he was not happy with the company's 4.5 per cent growth in sales in calendar 2000 and promised faster growth this year by focusing on the 30 brands that brought in 75 per cent of its revenue. 

Hindustan Lever, the Indian subsidiary of the Anglo-Dutch consumer giant Unilever Plc, said its premium soap brands such as Dove and Lux as well as top tea brands like Red Label and Taj Mahal fared better than cheaper brands last year. 

In toothpaste too its high-end brand Close-Up had a strong position comparison with its other brands -- Pepsodent with a 16 per cent share, and the recently launched Aim with an annualised 2 per cent share last year, Rudra said. 

Hindustan Lever, India's third-largest private-sector company by sales, sees growth potential in rural areas where only 42 per cent of the people used toothpaste, half the rate in urban areas. 

The rest chew Neem twigs to clean their teeth or use tooth powder. 

Bombay-based Hindustan Lever has only a 7 per cent share of the tooth powder market dominated by rival Colgate-Palmolive (India) Ltd, Rudra said. 

Lever is a major force in the toothbrush market, although toothpastes were the cash cow of the profitable oral care division. 

"Oral care is one of the biggest divisions of the company," Rudra said, adding the company plans to boost sales further through high-profile campaigns. 

Hindustan Lever will choose 30 winners of a Close-Up contest and take them for an airplane ride and dinner with Hrithik Roshan, the matinee idol who is hugely popular among Indian women of all ages. 

The concentration on top brands is expected to boost the company's net profit, which rose 22.5 per cent in calendar 2000, beating market expectations of 15-20 per cent growth. 

After its earnings results were announced on Thursday, Hindustan Lever's shares jumped 5.5 per cent to a five-month peak of Rs 218.90 on the Bombay Stock Exchange. That is still down 33 per cent from its 52-week high of Rs 324.90 touched last February 25.