It’s an interesting initiative by a multinational corporation to go into the heartland, or hinterland as you would consider it, and make its presence felt. ‘Khushiyon Ki Doli’ is a rural marketing initiative of Hindustan Unilever Limited (HUL) that was launched in March this year in three states – Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra. Here’s what we could unearth about the project:
1. ‘Khushiyon Ki Doli’isn’t HUL’s first rural marketing foray by any means, but it could well be their most ambitious. "While we have done a lot of individual brand-led rural activities, ‘Khushiyon Ki Doli’ is the first multi-brand rural engagement module started by HUL," said Krishnan Sundaram, marketing manager – premium fabric wash. "In both scale and depth, it will be the largest such activity ever undertaken." During the year, 14 million consumers in 35,000 villages have been set as the target for contact, with the aid of Ogilvy Outreach.
2. According to an explanatory note from HUL, "The main objective of the campaign is to reach out to media dark villages with HUL brand messages and to engage with consumers deeply to rapidly change brand adoption metrics." The way they’re going about it is to change the attitude of the rural audience to inculcate good hygiene, and in the process, the company hopes to create greater preference for its brands. The note elaborates, "Through a multi-brand approach, Khushiyon Ki Doli also helps to create a cost-efficient rural activation module. It involves various personal care and home care brands of HUL including Wheel, Surf Excel, Fair & Lovely, Sunsilk, Vim, Lifebuoy and Close Up."
3. The process of making contact includes three steps:-
- Awareness: The first step is achieved through 4-5 teams of promoters who head to each village and invite the residents to gatherings that are termed ‘mohallas’ to make them aware of the company and its products. The events are conducted in the local language for small focused groups which is supposed to encourage greater engagement and involvement for the audience.The note says, “During this activity, brands are introduced with the help of TVCs [some customised, others that have been aired on national television] that are played continuously. And the promoters by way of demonstrations bring alive the hygiene benefits of using such brands and improving the quality of daily life.” There are also quizzes and games which aim to make the interaction more enjoyable and enhance interest. “As part of this activation, we offer schemes both for the participating consumers and also local retailers for generating trial among consumers as well enhancing availability at retail,” the note adds.
The name ‘Khushiyon Ki Doli’ comes, in part, quite literally from the device that is used to showcase the TV set on which the commercials are screened. Sundaram elaborated, “We have used the latest communication technology (LCD TVs, mobile phones) but the entire activity is themed around a palanquin (Doli).” According to the note, “One of the unique aspects of this initiative is the use of technology to bring alive the benefits of our brands in a simple and compelling manner. The other unique characteristic feature of this initiative is the effective use of popular traditional symbols with technology to create more acceptance.”
- Consumer Engagement: In the second step, post the mohalla activity, the promoters go door-to-door and conduct consumer home visits to generate trials where they offer promotions to the consumers.
- Retail: Finally, there is another team which visits all the shops in the village which ensures improved availability and visibility of the brands.• The brands that are promoted in each step vary from state to state based on the specific marketing task, whether it be penetration or consumption, in that region. For instance, in Uttar Pradesh, the module has Wheel, Fair & Lovely, Sunsilk, Huggies, Vim, Surf Excel, Lifebuoy, Close Up in the Awareness stage, Surf and Vim during Consumer Engagement, and Surf, Vim and Close Up in Retail Promotions.
4. According to Sundaram, "The activity has been received very well. We have seen an increase in trials, sales and distribution for all the brands participating in this activity."
What it means for…
- Awareness about company’s brands in media-dark villages
- Cost-efficient rural activation module
- Greater engagement by blending technology with traditional symbolism
- Greater scope of work for rural marketing divisions
- Chance to explore ideas in communication, such as customised TVCs for rural audience