Uploaded by Mirazul Islam Siddiqi

Head & Shoulder in India

Head and Shoulders shampoo from Procter & Gamble (P&G) is a world-class brand. The challenge of
entering the Indian market was well-managed by the company when the brand was launched in India. The
brand made progress in India outperforming established brands in the shampoo category. The brand’s
“anti-dandruff” positioning and the manner in which it was executed endeared the brand to the
consumers, to the extent that the brand became one of the leading brands within a short period of time.
The brand’s proposition and the celebrity usage combined well with its expert endorsement. The brand
then faced a situation that many successful brands often face after they become successful: the brand was
unable to grow in terms of its share of the market beyond a point. Although, there may be several factors
associated with the marketing mix elements that could be used to address the situation, the brand
management team, based on its experience, felt that the brand needed to be repositioned. The
repositioning exercise had several risks associated with it. Would the existing positive associations get
affected? With the proposition of “anti-dandruff” strongly entrenched in the minds of the consumers,
what kind of associations can be added? Should they continue endorsement of the brand by celebrities?
The brand management team decided to use insights from consumer behavior and felt such an approach
will enable them to strengthen the brand equity of Head and Shoulders.
The Brand Manager of Head & Shoulders, India, was in a quandary. He had been asked by the Brand
Director of Procter & Gamble, India, to identify the reasons associated with the stagnation of the brand’s
market share and was entrusted with the task of strengthening the brand’s positioning.
The shampoo category in India was worth nearly INR 80 billion per annum in 2017 ($1 = INR 64,
August 2107). It was highly fragmented with several global and local brands that competed with one
another at the national level as well as the regional level. Within the shampoo category, two companies –
HUL & P&G – controlled over 73% market share. HUL controlled over 48.8% market share with its
five-brand portfolio (Clinic Plus, Dove, Sunsilk, Tresemme, and Clear), while Procter and Gamble
controlled 24.2% market share with its two-brand portfolio (Head and Shoulders and Pantene). The other
major companies in the market were L’Oreal (with L’Oreal Paris and Garnier), CavinKare (with Chik,
Nyle, etc.), and Dabur (with Vatika). The remaining market was controlled by local brands that had a
strong regional presence in certain geographies of India. The top five brands in the category were Clinic
Plus (HUL), Head and Shoulders (P&G), Dove (HUL), Pantene (P&G), and Sunsilk (HUL).
The penetration of the shampoo category was more than 90% in India. The varied consumer
demographic distinctions divided India into several consumer classifications based on age, gender, and
socio-economic class. The most pertinent consumer classification was on the basis of the socio-economic
class (SEC). Brands such as Dove, L’Oreal Paris, Pantene, Head and Shoulders, Tresemme, and Clear
were ‘‘Premium’’ priced brands which catered to the higher SECs. Mid-priced brands such as Sunsilk,
Garnier, and Nyle catered to the ‘‘Popular’’ segment, while ‘‘Economic’’ brands such as Clinic Plus,
Chik, etc. catered to the lower SECs. Even premium-priced brands, in order to cater to the lower SECs,
existed in low-priced stock-keeping units (SKUs), which suited the cash outlay of these consumers. The
presence of these SKUs divided the shampoo market into two distinct packaging forms – bottles and
The retail landscape in India was highly diverse. There existed a variety of store formats spanning from
modern trade (hypermarkets, supermarkets, and mini markets) to traditional trade (kirana stores, Mom
and Pop stores, grocers, paan shops, etc.) as well as the pharmacy channels Although, the modern trade
contributed to about 12% of shampoo sales in India, the remaining 88% was derived through traditional
trade channels and the pharmacy channel.
In line with consumer needs, all the brands in the shampoo category have designed their propositions to
communicate one of the three main benefits. The three main benefits are:
1. Hair Health and Beauty/Cosmetic Benefit
2. Scalp Health and Anti-Dandruff Benefit
3. Goodness of Natural and Herbal Ingredients
Brands such as Dove, Clinic Plus, Pantene, Sunsilk, Tresemme, L’Oreal Paris, Garnier, etc. catered to the
Cosmetic/Hair Health benefit segment. Head and Shoulders, and Clear catered to the Scalp Health and
Anti-Dandruff benefit segment. Shampoos with natural and herbal benefits have low penetration in India.
The specific benefit articulation of all these brands is listed in Exhibit 1.
Brand History
Procter and Gamble launched its flagship anti-dandruff Hair Care brand, Head and Shoulders, in India in
1997. Before its launch in India, the brand was already a globally established name in the anti-dandruff
benefit segment in the shampoo category. Launched in 1961, the brand was the highest sold shampoo
brand in the world. When Head and Shoulders was launched in the Indian market, it was pitted against
the then market leader Clinic All Clear (now ‘Clear’), a brand by Hindustan Unilever. However, in a few
years of the launch, Head and Shoulders overtook Clear as the leader in the anti-dandruff benefit segment
of the shampoo category in India. In 2017, the brand had nearly 15% market value share in the overall
shampoo category in India, while Clear was reduced to nearly 5% market value share. With its superior
proposition of scalp and hair health, eight variants catering to the multiple needs of the Indian consumer,
premium tier pricing, SKU range spanning across multiple sizes, and a very strong distribution network,
Head and Shoulders emerged as one of the strongest hair care brands in urban India.
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After establishing a sizeable presence in the urban market, Head and Shoulders, in its quest to become the
top shampoo brand in India, started making in-roads into the rural market through the launch of the 5 ml
sachet priced at INR 1.5. This SKU competed with Clinic Plus, a Unilever brand, which was the market
leader in rural India with its 6 ml sachet at INR 1.
Competitors to Head and Shoulder – Clear and Clinic Plus
The two main competitors of Head and Shoulders were Clinic Plus and Clear, both brands by Hindustan
Head and Shoulders competed with Clear (previously known as Clinic All Clear or All Clear) in the antidandruff and scalp care benefit segment. Being the flagship anti-dandruff brands of the two power-house
companies in the Indian Shampoo category, Clear and Head and Shoulders have been competing against
each other since 1997 when Head and Shoulders entered the Indian market. These two brands also
competed with each other on a global scale as the two most preferred brands in the anti-dandruff and
scalp care benefit segment.
Head and Shoulders also competed with Clinic Plus brand in India. The competition between Clinic Plus
and Head and Shoulders is quite unique because an intense rivalry existed despite the fact that they
occupied distinct benefit spaces in the category. Although Clinic Plus catered to the hair health seeking
consumer, Head and Shoulders’ core benefit was dandruff protection. The two brands competed with each
other as the highest sold shampoo brand of their respective mother companies. The competition specially
intensified after Head and Shoulders, which was a premium-priced brand otherwise, launched its 5 ml
sachet at INR 1.5 to make in-roads into the rural market of India. This offering by Head and Shoulders
was in direct competition with HUL’s flagship offering of the Clinic Plus 6 ml sachet in the rural market.
Brand Positioning and Communication
Each brand positions itself distinctly in the minds of the consumer through its marketing activities and
particularly through its communication. This section explores their positioning and communication
Head and Shoulders
Dandruff being a common scalp problem for both men and women, Head and Shoulders targeted both
men and women who sought a solution to their dandruff problems. With brand claims such as ‘‘Up to
100% Dandruff Free Forever, Up to 95% Less Hair fall’’, Head and Shoulders has always maintained a
dual positioning. On one side, the brand demonstrated its product efficacy as an expert anti-dandruff
shampoo, while on the other side, the brand also promised cosmetic benefits.
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The salient features of the brand’s communication are as follows.
1. The brand typically employed two legs of communication. The first leg focused on anti-dandruff
superiority via dermatologist testimonials. The second leg highlighted the cosmetic quality of the
brand alongside its anti-dandruff efficacy and showcased a fun and trendy imagery of the brand.
2. The brand’s communication played on how protection against dandruff not only allows people to
have a beautiful scalp and beautiful hair, but also brings them closer to each other.
3. The brand employed Bollywood actors as brand ambassadors for its advertisements, which created an
aspirational appeal, thus further strengthening its beauty/cosmetic appeal.
4. The brand’s communication was highly functional in nature with a strong product story and
demonstration in its advertisements in order to drive home its anti-dandruff efficacy even harder.
Exhibit 2 provides information on the most important attributes desired by consumers in a shampoo.
Exhibit 3 provides information on consumer attitudes towards Head and Shoulders, Clear and Clinic
Exhibits 4 and 5 provide sample storyboards of Head and Shoulders from its TV advertisements.
Clear has always maintained a highly focused positioning of an expert in removing dandruff from the hair
and scalp, and protecting the hair and scalp against future occurrence of dandruff flakes. Its brand claim
such as ‘‘Clear – Nothing to Hide’’ outlined its anti-dandruff properties. The brand does not promise any
cosmetic benefits.
Salient features of the brand’s communication are as follows.
1. Targeting both male and female consumers, the drama in the brand’s communication brings out the
claim ‘‘Nothing to hide’’ via a playful interaction between men and women.
2. The brand’s imagery was seductive, stylish and sophisticated, be it via the use of Bollywood actors as
brand ambassadors or via the use of seductive dance moves and music in its advertisements.
3. The brand colors of black and gold complemented the brand’s imagery and further highlighted the
highly aspirational and hedonistic positioning of the brand.
Clinic Plus
Clinic Plus, being one of the oldest brands in India, enjoyed the legacy of having been passed down by
generations of Indian mothers to their daughters. Although, the functional benefit of the brand was ‘‘Hair
strength’’, its emotional positioning employed the mother–daughter relationship as a chassis to drive
home its heritage. With brand promises such as ‘‘Mazboot baal, mazboot rishte’’ (Strong hair, Strong
relationships) and ‘‘Baalon ka girna mana hai’’ (Hair breakage is not allowed), the brand established
itself as a gold standard for strong and beautiful hair.
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The brand was targeted at the mass Indian consumers. The salient features of its communication are as
1. Focused toward women of all ages, the brand’s heritage allowed it to strike an emotional chord with
the consumer by showcasing a mother–daughter interaction as the dramatic element in its
communication, be it via a ‘‘Maa se Mazbooti’’ campaign, a girl child education drive, or a mother–
daughter radio jingle.
2. The brand also has a strong functional message of ‘‘Strong, long and beautiful hair’’ in its
communication which tied in with the emotional set-up of the advertisements. Through the use of an
ingredient story of ‘‘milk proteins’’, the brand tried to convince the consumer of its superiority in
delivering strong hair.
3. In line with its target audience, the brand employed television actors who are easily recognizable to
its target audience. These are typically actresses from popular TV serials.
4. The brand used occasion-based marketing around Mother’s Day to bring out its emotional
Head and Shoulders had nine variants and six pack sizes. The top three variants were Smooth and Silky,
Cool Menthol, and Anti-Hairfall. The top-selling bottle pack-size was the 170 ml bottle and the topselling sachet pack-size was the 5 ml sachet. Clear had three variants – Complete Active Care, Ice Cool
Menthol, and Anti-Hairfall. Its top-selling pack-size was the 170 ml bottle. Clinic Plus had three main
variants – the Health Shampoo, the Naturals Shampoo, and the Anti-Dandruff Shampoo. Its top-selling
pack-size was the 6 ml sachet priced at INR 1.
The most popular bottle size for each of these brands, the 170-180 ml pack, was priced at INR 135 for
Head and Shoulders, at INR 163 for Clear, and INR 100 for Clinic Plus. Both Clear’s and Head and
Shoulders’ 7.5 ml sachets were priced at INR 3 and the 5 ml sachets are priced at INR 1.5. Clinic Plus had
a 6 ml sachet priced at INR 1.
All three brands were distributed across all major store formats, be it modern trade (via supermarkets and
hypermarkets) with the bottled packaging form, or traditional trade (via grocers, Mom and Pop stores,
etc.), and pharmacies, with both bottles and sachets.
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All three brands employed consumer promotions on their bottles to have a positive value perception in the
mind of the consumer. Head and Shoulders, and Clear, included price discounts and bundle packs
promotions on its bottles. Clinic Plus included volume promotion on its smallest bottle size, giving 25%
volume free on each pack. Further, Clinic Plus included bundle pack promotions with many different
The following positioning maps have been drawn by the authors on the three brands under
consideration based on the available data.
1. Price–Benefit Relationship
Head and Shoulders was priced at INR 60 for the 80 ml bottle where it offered both dandruff efficacy
benefit and cosmetic hair benefit. Clear was priced at INR 79 for the 80 ml bottle, where it singlemindedly communicated the Anti-Dandruff efficacy benefit. Clinic Plus was priced at INR 45 for the 80
ml bottle where it communicated Strong Hair cosmetic benefit. Hence, on the price axis, Clinic Plus has
been plotted the lowest, followed by Head and Shoulders, and then by Clear. On the benefit axis, Clinic
Plus has been plotted left most because it communicates only the cosmetic benefits. Head and Shoulders
has been plotted in between because of its dual benefit communication and Clear has been plotted right
most because of its strong focus on Anti-Dandruff efficacy benefit.
2. Price–Positioning Relationship
Head and Shoulders was priced at INR 60 for the 80 ml bottle where its positioning was largely
functional. Clear was priced at INR 79 for the 80 ml bottle and its positioning was also functional. Clinic
Plus was priced at INR 45 for the 80 ml bottle and its positioning was largely emotional. Hence, on the
price axis, Clinic Plus has been plotted the lowest, followed by Head and Shoulders, and then by Clear.
On the positioning axis, Clinic Plus has been plotted left most because of its emotional positioning. Head
and Shoulders and Clear have been plotted in parallel toward the right because of their functional
Exhibits 6 and 7 provide information on the positioning of brands associated with the case.
The Problem
For a couple of years, Head and Shoulders, with its distinctive dual positioning, strong communication
and media plans, growing distribution network, competitive pricing strategy and strong promotion plans,
was steadily growing market share by sourcing consumers and volume from its chief competitors. In
2012, the brand was one share point away from becoming the No. 1 shampoo brand in India. However,
for 2 years, despite remaining competitive in terms of its media, distribution, pricing and promotions, the
brand’s share had stagnated.
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The Brand Manager of Head and Shoulders was concerned and wanted to understand how he could
strengthen the positioning of Head and Shoulders to re-drive the market share on his brand. He thought
that the solution to his problem lay in understanding consumer attitudes and strengthening those attitudes
to restore the success of the brand. Understanding consumer attitudes and applying them to the
fundamentals of the brand by analyzing brand associations and imagery may be the key to his concerns on
Head and Shoulders.
Implications of Repositioning Head and Shoulders
Finally, the brand manager would have to think about how attitudes can enhance the equity of the brand.
This is essential as the case deals with the different dimensions of attitudinal components towards Head
and Shoulders and its competitors. The implications of such analysis may range between strengthening
the existing rationale associated with the brand Head and Shoulders or the emotional appeal of the brand
and dealing with changes in both the rationale of the proposition and its emotional appeal. Regardless of
the changes in repositioning, the brand has to ensure that its success is sustained.
Hence, the analysis is just not limited to straightforward answers to these questions: these questions at the
top of the mind for the brand manager formed just the trigger for an in-depth analysis.
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Exhibit 1
Shampoo brands in India and their respective propositions
Main Benefit
Hair Health and Cosmetic Benefits
No matter what your daughter does with her hair,
she won’t face hair fall.
Hair Health and Cosmetic Benefits
Damage free hair – Real beauty for a real woman.
Hair Health and Cosmetic Benefits
Stronger, shinier hair inside out.
Hair Health and Cosmetic Benefits
Address your most common hair dramas with
Hair Health and Cosmetic Benefits
Prevents hair fall at affordable prices.
Hair Health and Cosmetic Benefits
Affordable salon quality hair at home.
Hair Health and Cosmetic Benefits
L'Oreal Paris gives you stunning, celebrity-gorgeous
hair by repairing the 5 signs of hair damage.
Hair Health and Cosmetic Benefits
Triple nutrition, triple strength from scalp to tips.
Head and Scalp Health and Anti-Dandruff
Up to 100% dandruff-free hair forever; Up to 95%
less hair fall.
Scalp Health and Anti-Dandruff
With new Clear, dandruff won’t come back.
Natural/Herbal Ingredients
With the goodness of natural ingredients, Nyle
works from inside for nourished, problem-free
Source: Analysis of the ads of respective brand by the authors
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Exhibit 2
Most important attributes desired by consumers in a shampoo
Avoid hair loss
Prevents dandruff
Suitable for hair
Softens hair
Hair growth
No rough hair
Less chemicals
Removes oil and dirt
Easy to rinse
Total number of
Percentage (%)
Source: Survey data made available by the company (reproduced with permission)
Exhibit 3
Consumer attitudes towards Head and Shoulders, Clear, and Clinic Plus
Feelings and Judgments
This brand makes me feel confident
This brand makes me feel beautiful
This brand understands me
This brand understands my hair needs
This is a brand I can trust
This brand has the best conditioner product
Percentage of consumers in Agreement
Head and Shoulders
Clinic Plus
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Exhibit 3 (Contd.)
Perceptions about Product Performance
Strengthens hair
Improves hair health
Improves the health of my scalp
Leaves hair soft to the touch
Leaves hair shiny
Provides vitamins
Effectively fights damage
Contains natural ingredients
Has a pleasant smell
Has a good lather
Moisturizes hair
Leaves hair smoother
Prevents hair fall
Leaves my hair clean
Provides superior anti-dandruff performance
Source: Survey data made available by the company (reproduced with permission)
Exhibit 4
Sample storyboard of TV ad which communicates only anti-dandruff superiority
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Exhibit 4 (Contd.)
Main characters
Inferred consumer
Inferred benefit
*Head & Shoulders Ad Understanding Summary
A journalist/interviewer and a dermatologist/hair and scalp expert
The ads are set in laboratories. The setting is clean, clinical and pristine.
Expert (dermatologist)
The drama focuses around an interviewer asking a hair expert why Head and
Shoulders is better than other anti-dandruff shampoos. The hair expert then performs a
feather test by dipping two dirty feathers in two different mixtures of different antidandruff shampoos. The result of the test proves how Head and Shoulders cleans the
feather better, proving that it will remove greater dandruff than other anti-dandruff
shampoos, even with one wash.
The ad has been targeted at both male and female audiences, between the age of 18
and 44 years, and suffering from dandruff problems.
Head and Shoulders is the expert-recommended brand for dandruff protection and
works better than other anti-dandruff brands.
*Authors have used their perception to describe the storyboard of the respective brand.
Advertisements reproduced with the permission of the Assistant Brand Manager, Head & Shoulders, Procter & Gamble, India.
Exhibit 5
Sample storyboard of TV ad which communicates both anti-dandruff superiority and
cosmetic hair benefits
Central character
Inferred consumer
Inferred benefit
*Head & Shoulders Ad Understanding Summary
A young man and a young woman, typically between the age of 25 and 35 years,
attractive and smart. The brand uses its brand ambassadors, Kareena Kapoor and Saif
Ali Khan, as the man and the woman.
The ads have a living room setting of an upscale posh house with impressive home
The drama focuses around the need of the female celebrity for dandruff-free as well as
smooth hair. The male celebrity expresses his wonder at how the female celebrity
never leaves her hair alone and keeps running her hand through the hair. The female
celebrity explains to him that her hair is really smooth and dandruff-free; hence, she is
unable to stop herself from touching her hair. She explains that the reason for this is
Head and Shoulders which has 6 times more moisturizer and gives 100% dandruff
protection and 100% smooth hair. After this, the male celebrity touches her hair, finds
the proof for himself, and expresses his appreciation.
The ad has been targeted at both male and female audiences, between the age of 18
and 44 years, and seeking hair which is dandruff-free and smooth at the same time.
Head and Shoulders gives 100% dandruff protection and 100% smooth hair.
*Authors have used their perception to describe the storyboard of the respective brand.
Advertisements reproduced with the permission of the Assistant Brand Manager, Head & Shoulders, Procter & Gamble, India.
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Exhibit 6
Perceptual map on Price–Benefit relationship
Source: Analysis of the authors based on their perception of the brands
Exhibit 7
Perceptual Map on Price–Benefit Relationship
Source: Analysis of the authors based on their perception of the brands
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