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A consumer behavior study

on Lakme
Its brand perception among
Indian women

A project by:
Adil Mirza

Lakme is a product range that caters to the beautification needs of not only women in their adult
age but in today's context teenagers also. It has a brand personality of someone who takes care of
you and your beauty needs. It tries to position itself amongst its consumers as a product range
that will help them look beautiful as is evident from its catchphrases:

1. On top of the world!

2. Source of radiant beauty1!

Lakme has a range of beauty products to offer to its consumers. Some of the ways in which it
tries to position itself:

1. Lakme Hair Color: magic of colors (collage).

2. Lakme (versatile eye shadow collection): rich, long lasting and healthy make up.

3. Lakme fair perfect: For flawlessly fair skin!

4. Lakme face magic: daily wear soufflé.

5. Lakme (skin vitalizer): radiant skin, now and forever.

6. Lakme (moisturizer): radiant skin, now and forever.

7. Lakme nail polish and lipstick: electric brilliance/sensual brilliance/free

spirit/peppermint/9 to 52.

8. Lakme sun expert (sunscreen): sun safe hamesha! (face the sun with a smile)

9. Lakme pure defense: anti-pollution system.

10. Lakme Tropical Island (cosmetics): defining the future of fashion.

11. Lakme hair care (international): natural hair care, a source of pleasure and well being.

Source: http://www.rediff.com/business/nov/06lak2.jpg; 10/08/08
Source: http://i159.photobucket.com/albums/t160/indianmakeupdiva/9to5catspics.jpg; 10/08/08
12. Lakme hair next: exclusive range of hairstyle products that give you that salon look

On the basis of above mentioned positioning strategies Lakme can have the following
characteristics that determine its personality:

• Someone who takes care of your beauty needs.

• A long lasting beautification product range.

• Something that is not harsh on your body or harmful for your beauty.

• A product that provides you with an option of getting beautiful hair.

• A product that helps you get a beautiful skin.

• A cosmetic product that you can wear for the entire day and not a special occasion.

• Someone who tells you right things about looking good.

• It's an Indian cosmetic brand.

• It covers all facets of beauty care for women.

The following factors of Lakme's personality help in differentiation of its products from the

• It covers all facets of beauty care.

• It helps arm the consumer with products to pamper her from head to toe i.e. a complete
product range.

• The quality of its products which can be only gauged by the consumer perception of the

• India's first beauty brand and is there for a long time in the market (since independence).
However, most of the other foreign brands have come only lately.


• According to Freudian Psychoanalytic theory Lakme tries to position itself on the basis of
its appeal to the consumers which have an ego. This means that the consumers of Lakme
have an impulsive drive for which they seek immediate satisfaction without concern for
means of satisfaction3.

• Women all over the world are always expected to look good and Indian women are no
exception; More so because of the fact that Indian women in general do not have a fair
skin like that of their western counterparts. Thus it becomes but natural for Indian women
to try and look good and use beauty products that help enhance their looks and style. With
globalization and liberalization of Indian economy and the changing demographics and
income levels there is more and more concern to look good as today's Indian woman is no
longer confined to her home but is a big contributor to the growth of Indian economy.


• Lakme tries to woo the compliant consumers according to Karen Horney's classification 4
of personality groups i.e. people who move towards others. Those who have desire to be
loved, wanted and appreciated. As is earlier stated women are supposed to look good not
only in western countries but also in India.

• Women always appreciate if someone calls them beautiful and it has become the custom
of the society to see women in such a context. So it would be prudent to say that
according to the societal norms a women has to look good at all times and which has a
bearing on the psychology of female consumers towards cosmetic products which help
them achieve that desired look. Needless to say that Lakme plays on the concept of
women wanting themselves to be appreciated for their beauty and being loved for that.

L.L.Kanuk, Leon.G.Schiffman; Consumer Behavior 9th edition.

L.L.Kanuk, Leon.G.Schiffman; Consumer Behavior 9th edition.

On the basis of perceptual selection Lakme has tried to position itself among its consumers in the
following ways:

• Lakme has tried to gain the attention of its consumers by line extension and having more
and more product depth, packaging and attractive print advertisements. If we look at the
line extensions of Lakme than we would observe that it is in almost all the segments of
cosmetic care ranging from hair care to skin care to beauty salons! Looking at the product
depth it is pretty evident that Lakme has actually tried to fill in all areas that it can,
particularly the nail paint and the lip color segment is a big hit among Indian women as it
offers them a wide variety of products in terms of colors as well as various styles that
they can choose from.

• It was the first cosmetic brand in India that captured the imagination of consumers. It had
a market share of 52%5 at one time as the consumers didn't have many choices but as the
foreign brands came in, it lost its Numero Uno position. This was primarily due to the
fact that consumers now had easy access to high quality products and with rising
disposable income and size of the Indian middle class consumers shifted their attention to
foreign players.


According to the answers in the in-depth interview of the respondents:

What respondents feel:

• Colorful: 20% (6/30) of the respondents in the in-depth interview said that they
associated Lakme with colors i.e. something which is vibrant and lively. According to
them Lakme offers them with a wide range of colors in product category of nail paint and
lip color. This makes them perceive it as colorful.

What Lakme wants them to feel:

http://www.thehindubusinessline.com/2002/08/01/stories/2002080100151200.htm; 10/08/08
This consumer perception goes well with the
positioning of Lakme’s lip color and nail polish as they try to position it as colorful and
vibrant which is how the consumers perceive it as.

What respondents feel:

• 30% (9/30) respondents felt that Lakme is a trendsetter for fashionable cosmetics in
India. The major reason they attributed to this was that it was the first cosmetic brand in
India which was particularly catering to the need of Indian women and thus set a trend
for the foreign players to tap the Indian market. Today also they said that it is a
trendsetter in cosmetics as it keeps on coming out with novel colors, shades and products
from time to time.

What Lakme wants them to feel:

This again matches with what the company wants Indian

consumers to perceive about it as is evident from the shown advertisement. Lakme’s
strategy has been to come with new and vibrant colors and shades of cosmetics each and
every season. Currently it is aggressively advertising its ‘Tropical Island Collection’6
which has been designed by none other than famous fashion designer Wendell Rodricks.

What respondents feel:

http://www.lakmeindia.com/index.asp, 12/08/08
• 20% (6/30) respondents feel that Lakme’s lip color is longer lasting as compared to other
brands such as Maybelline and Revlon. They felt that it is because of good quality of lip
color that was provided by the company.

What Lakme wants them to feel:

This is what Lakme is trying to do with the advertisements of its

lip color. In fact it has launched a special range of lip color that is called 9 to 5 range and
is meant for women who are working in offices. This product is primarily harping on the
premise that the lip color stays longer than any other and is meant for working women
who stay in offices from 9 to 5 and can’t give that much time for their looks in between
working hours.

What respondents feel:

• 10% (3/30) respondents felt that when they thought of Lakme they thought of an expert
in beauty care. According to them it is a brand which communicates to them the various
ways in which they can protect as well as enhance their beauty.

What Lakme wants them to feel:

This advertisement of Lakme is exactly

trying to communicate this message to its consumers that the brand is an expert in beauty
care as it helps the consumer not only to look beautiful but also helps her to protect her

What respondents feel:

• 10% (3/30) of respondents felt that Lakme although is not a very well known and trusted
brand for its hair care products but still the new range of hair styling products that it has
brought out in the market have to some extent provided them with an easy way of
making their hair look beautiful.

What Lakme wants them to feel:

This advertisement of
Lakme although is trying to say the same thing but the perception of consumers has not
been built according to what the company is primarily looking for i.e. it is trying to
position itself as a instant hairstyling product.

What respondents feel:

• 10% (3/30) felt that Lakme’s skin care lotion is one of the best products in its category
and provides them with optimum care in winters. However they said that the role of a
cosmetic product is different for different environments. They disagreed about the fact
that the cosmetic products actually help you maintain a good and healthy skin for a long
time unless it is of good quality. They were of the opinion that a good and healthy skin
can only be obtained by proper diet and hydration with the help of liquids taken orally.
What Lakme wants them to feel:

In this context Lakme has tried to woo its

consumers by means of informative advertisement but the perception of its consumers
doesn’t gel with that of what the company wants to do. The major reason for this could be
the level of sophistication of the respondent. In this case they are learned women from a
B school. However in case of women who are not at all abreast with the actual
mechanisms of body’s maintenance of good health, it can be a good way of trying to
generate awareness amongst it consumers regarding the role this product can play in the
achievement of the consumer’s goal.


The prevailing attitude of the consumers regarding Lakme is that it is:

• A brand that epitomizes the feminity of Indian women. 30% (9/30) of the respondents of
the in depth interview felt that Lakme has over the years built a brand that has got a
special place in the hearts of Indian women. This was attributed to the length and depth
of its product mix.

• 20% (6/30) of the respondents feel that Lakme is economical as compared to its
competitor foreign brands. This particular aspect has never been harped upon by Lakme
in its advertisements. When asked whether the consumers would buy the products of
Lakme if their price was increased most of the respondents were not able to make up
their mind. They were of the opinion that low price is one of the major strengths of the
brand and it should remain like that.
• 10% (3/30) of the respondents felt that Lakme provides them a complete range of
cosmetic products. This is in line with what Lakme has been trying to position it as. The
various advertisements of Lakme try to tell their consumers that they provide them with a
complete solution for their beauty enhancement.

• 20% (6/30) respondents felt that Lakme is not at all a healthy choice in order to keep a
healthy and beautiful skin. This is in contrast with its skin care products as they try to tell
their consumers that using their skin care products would help them achieve radiant and
glowing skin. The major reason is the growing popularity of herbal products and the
usage of chemicals in Lakme products.

In this respect what we as a group feel that Lakme should start a new product line of
Herbal or Ayurvedic based cosmetic products as Lakme is already considered as a
trendsetter in cosmetics industry by various consumers. So it should not miss the
opportunity and should either launch a new product line or incorporate Herbal or
Ayurvedic ingredients in its product portfolio.


We as a group came to the conclusion that whatever negative attitude consumers have
regarding Lakme at IBS Hyderabad campus it maybe because the respondents were
highly informed regarding the products and product range. They were all B school
students and were aware of the recent developments with respect to the cosmetic industry
to some extent.

If we look at a broader picture women today are changing their attitude towards more
healthier and natural cosmetic products as a whole and are reluctant to use chemical
based cosmetics if they have better options. Moreover due to immense competition it is
very much evident that consumers of Lakme would switch over to healthier brands as in
this product category the brand loyalty of the consumer stays as long as the product is
providing the consumer the desired level of satisfaction. Since that level is already on the
changing side its high time Lakme looks at beautification not only in terms of cosmetics
but healthy cosmetics!

In this project, we have done qualitative research for gaining insights into perception of
Lakme in the minds of consumer, their attitude towards the brand and also to find out
whether Hindustan Unilever’s intentions are matching with the consumer’s perception
about the brand. Qualitative data was collected to know more about consumer behavior,
intentions, feelings and thoughts that cannot be directly observed and measured. Hence
qualitative methods helped us to project the emotions, needs, motives, attitudes and
beliefs of women towards Lakme.

Moreover, these methods are less structured and more intensive than standardized
questionnaire based interviews. There is a longer, more flexible relationship with the
respondent, so the resulting data have more depth and great richness of context. We have
used qualitative research for the study where we wanted to gain insights into women’s
perception towards Lakme that otherwise might be impossible to pursue with structured
research methods.


The data collection tool which we have chosen for this study is Individual In-depth
interviews. The individual in-depth interviews were conducted face to face with the
respondent i.e. women (belonging to IBS Hyderabad), in which the subject matter of the
interview i.e. Lakme as a brand was explored in detail. The in-depth interview was of
focused type. The questionnaire that we administered to the respondents is given in
Annexure I.


The focused individual interviews were being done because we wanted to cover a specific
list of topics or subareas of the Lakme brand. So therefore the interviewer had the
discretion on the timing, exact wording and time allocation on each question area. Special
care was taken to avoid threatening questions. In the individual in-depth interview, we
have used laddering technique so as to get an actual response from the respondent. For
example, firstly the respondents were asked a particular question and then, they were
probed on reasons for their response given to the interviewer.

Earlier we narrowed down the sources of data collection to focus groups and individual
in-depth interviews. But finally we ended up by selecting individual in-depth interviews.
The advantages of in-depth interviews over focus groups are:

1. More quality: Unlike focus groups, one- on-one interviews can avoid responses that are
influenced by other people. Like in our case where personal beauty care is a critical issue.
Girls or women tend to get influenced by other participants of the focus group in order to
avoid any embarrassing situation. This kind of behavior is not seen in case of in-depth
interview. Interviewers may ask respondents directly and find out their personal thoughts
on the product; this ultimately enhances the quality of information.

2. More quantity: We can receive twice the amount of information per respondent in an in-
depth interview, where the interviewer speaks at most 20 percent of the time, as in a
typical 10-member focus group.

3. More depth: In-depth interviews capture all the relevance of the qualitative information
of focus groups. Every word the respondent speaks can be tapped and transcribed and
used in multiple ways. Well designed surveys can go beyond surface answers and produce
a rich database of interviews to produce analytical reports, identify broad themes, and
understand the ranges and depth of reactions.

4. More representation: In-depth interviews allow a much more representative approach.

Respondents are carefully selected to represent the marketplace as accurately as possible.
As in our case, the respondents were girls. Therefore it was better to conduct individual
in-depth interviews as girls can feel comfortable in answering questions pertaining to
beauty care of a person.

5. More value: One-on-one interviews can double or triple the number of minutes that the
respondent is talking, and that is the true goal of our research: understanding your
consumers better.
6. More convenient: As we are residing in a residential B-school where we are under
inevitable pressure of assignments and placements , so it was difficult for us to schedule a
focus group discussion comprising of 7-8 girls and that too we have to conduct 3-4 focus
group discussions. In comparison to focus groups, individual interviews were easier to

7. As our subject of research i.e. personal beauty care of women is quite sensitive, therefore
individual in-depth interviews were more appropriate in order to get more of the talking
from girls or women.

8. Moreover, with one respondent, there is absolutely no potential for influence from other
respondents which might have been prevalent if it was a focus group discussion instead of
an individual in-depth interview.

As we have clearly mentioned myriad advantages of in-depth interviews over focus group
discussions, there are also some limitations of individual in-depth interviews. They are:

 There is no group interaction among girls. Therefore, stimulation for new ideas from
respondents comes from the interviewer.

 In the absence of group pressure of girls, the thinking of respondents is not challenged.

 It takes a lot of time to obtain information and analyze it.


• The results are not necessarily representative of what would be found in the population,
and hence cannot be projected.

• There is typically a great deal of ambiguity in the results of qualitative methods.

• Susceptibility of the results to misuse.

• Flexibility that is the hallmark of these qualitative methods gives the moderator or
interviewer great latitude in directing the questions; similarly, an analyst with a particular
point of view may interpret the thoughts and comments selectively to support that view.

Questionnaire for In-Depth interview:

1. Which brand of cosmetics do you use and why? (Cosmetics include a complete range of
hair care, skin care, nail paints and lip color.)

Directions for Q no 1: In case there are different brands that you prefer for different
beauty spots kindly mention the name of the brand you like personally or the one
whose majority of products you use.

2. If you are asked to choose any Lakme product for your use which one would you choose
from its range of cosmetic products and why?

3. What is the first word/thing that comes to your mind when you hear the word Lakme?

4. If Lakme was the name of the person what would be the attributes that you would
associate with the personality of that person? (Atleast mention three!)

5. Do you think that Lakme is a source of radiant beauty? Please support your answer with a

6. Do you think that Lakme provides you with an option of healthy long lasting and
harmless make-up? Please support your answer with a statement.

7. Do you think if you would use Lakme products they would help you feel on top of the
world? Please support your answer with a statement.

8. Do you think that Lakme’s Hair next rage would help you to achieve good looking hair
instantly? Please support your answer with a statement.

9. Do you think that Lakme is a leader in the cosmetics industry in India? If no than who
according to you is the leader and why?

10. Would you continue to buy Lakme products even if their price is increased by say up to
1. Source of radiant beauty!

Source: http://www.rediff.com/business/nov/06lak2.jpg

2. Lakme’s style of positioning:

a. Lakme fair perfect: For flawlessly fair skin!

Source: http://www.indiaweekly.com/ImagesGift/b_G2081.jpg

b. Lakme sun expert (sunscreen): sun safe hamesha! (face the sun with a smile)

Source: http://www.lakmeindia.com/index.asp
c. Lakme pure defense: anti-pollution system.

Source: http://www.lakmeindia.com/index.asp

d. Lakme hair next: exclusive range of hairstyle products that give you that salon
look instantly.

Source: http://www.lakmeindia.com/index.asp;