The Red Lifebuoy soap manufactured by Unilever was first launched in the UK in 1894, for the workers in the dirty centres of Industrial England who faced improper sanitary conditions and fatal diseases. By 1990’s these conditions were long gone and after years of declining sales, Unilever had to withdraw the brand from UK and it retreated to its former colonies. Lifebuoy today with the help of its niche branding strategy has helped deliver sales equivalent to 500 million ponds mainly from countries like India, Pakistan and Indonesia. Lifebuoy is growing more quickly than its competitors today and it has led itself to enter new markets in South America and re-enter former markets in Africa.

Lifebuoy in India landed in the year 1895. From its humble beginnings as a chunky red soap, today it has evolved itself in various specialized products in the health and hygiene space. It is available in India as bar soaps, liquid handwash, hand sanitizer and talc.

Lifebuoy Soap

Branding Strategy

The hundred year old soap in India was tagged as male and sporty. But, today it has become a family brand. In the late 90’s, the brand targeted women. They realized that women are the decision makers when it came to shopping, be it urban or rural. At the same time, health was still the focus of the brand. Therefore, Lifebuoy changed its punchline from “You will be healthy if you use Lifebuoy” to “You will not fall ill, if you use Lifebuoy”. The appearance of the soap also underwent a change – it was more perfumed and less carbonic. At this point, TV commercials directly aimed at the mothers on screen, a very popular one being where kids could get full attendance, thanks to Lifebuoy.

The brand now wants to adopt a friendlier tone. Health is a serious concern, but they do not want to tag themselves and treat it so seriously.

A must watch: Watch this amazing video to get a glimpse of Lifebuoy Marketing Strategy