Ujala - The Supreme Whitener

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Case Details:

Case Code : MKTG051
Case Length : 10 Pages
Period : 1983-2003
Pub Date : 2003
Teaching Note :Not Available
Organization : Jyothi Laboratories
Industry : FMCG
Countries : India

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"He wears only white and swears by white. At a time when Hindustan Lever managing director M S Banga is busy pruning his portfolio of brands, our man is marching ahead with expansion plans in the fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) sector. That's MP Ramachandran, chairman and managing director of the Rs 2 billion1 Jyothi- the man behind the magic fabric whitener brand Ujala."

- The Economic Times, July 2001.

Shaking The Market Leader

By the end of 2002, Ujala, a fabric whitener2 from a company named Jyothi Laboratories (Jyothi) based in Andheri, Mumbai, had emerged as the market leader in the whitener segment of the Indian fabric care industry. What was noteworthy about Ujala's achievement was the fact that it had gained most of its market share in the segment, by eating into the erstwhile leader, Robin Blue's sales. Robin Blue was marketed by one of the country's leading fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) companies, the Reckitt Benckiser subsidiary, Reckitt & Coleman (R&C)3. By the beginning of 2002, Ujala had emerged as one of the few brands in the Indian FMCG sector that was posting handsome growth figures despite stagnation in the sector as a whole.

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1] In February 2003, Rs 48 equaled 1 US $.

2] Also called post wash fabric whiteners or optical whiteners, fabric whiteners are used to brighten white clothes after they have been washed. These whiteners are available in two varieties, powder and liquid. They are dissolved in water and then clothes are soaked in the solution for a few minutes and then dried. Such whiteners are popularly known as 'neel' (a Hindi language term for the word 'blue') in India.

3] R&C (now Reckitt Benckiser India Ltd.), is a 51% subsidiary of Reckitt Benckiser Plc, a company formed by the global merger of Reckitt & Coleman Plc and Benckiser Plc in December 1998. Reckitt's presence in India dates back to 1934 when a group company Atlantic East Ltd. (AEL), started operations in India. Initially, the Company was engaged in trading activity. Over the years, it set up manufacturing facilities. Reckitt & Coleman India (RCI) was incorporated in 1951 to take over manufacturing operations of AEL. The trading activities of RCI and the operations of AEL were merged in 1969. RCI was a wholly owned subsidiary of Reckitt & Coleman UK till 1970 when it offered shares to the Indian public to reduce the foreign holding to 70%. The parent company's holdings were further reduced to 40% in 1977. However, the parent hiked its stake to 51% in 1994. The company's name was changed to Reckitt Benckiser in 1999 to reflect the change in global parentage. It has a presence in several niche segments such as household cleaners, surface care, shoe care and insecticides.

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