Unilever’s Fair & Lovely In India: Fairness Matters
(8 pages of text)
Case (Pub Mat)
In July 2020, Hindustan Unilever Limited, the Indian subsidiary of global fast-moving consumer goods company Unilever plc, renamed its Fair & Lovely skin-lightening cream in response to criticism that the product’s positioning and advertising reinforced a pre-existing bias toward fair skin in India. India's market for skin-lightening creams, the largest in the world, was valued at US$450 million–US$535 million, and Fair & Lovely was the market leader with a 70 per cent share. However, the company had been criticized for its positioning and advertising of Fair & Lovely, which many saw as reinforcing a pre-existing bias for fair skin in India. Did the company make the right strategic move by renaming the popular brand? Or should the company have instead followed the path of some competitors and withdrawn the brand from the market? What else could the company do to support the brand?
This case is suitable for graduate- or executive-level courses in senior leadership and management. It can also be taught as an integrative case as part of a module on responsible leadership, business ethics, sustainability, or business and society. After working through the case and assignment questions, students will be able to
- understand the dimensions of sustainability in a large, modern-day business;
- recognize dilemmas associated with a company seeking a sustainability path;
- review frameworks used to assess the progress of a company's growth when using a sustainability strategy for all operations; and
- understand the interdependent nature of ethics and sustainability.
India, Large, 2020
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