“No matter if your brand is new or old, you will find your path only through customer observation and research.”Darshan Patel, Co-founder Paras Pharmaceuticals & Vini Cosmetics
Paras Pharmaceuticals, founded by the Patel family, made business history when they sold the company to Reckitt Benkeiser for Rs. 3260+crores in 2010. Vini Cosmetics, started by one of the Paras founders, Darshan Patel, sold majority stake to private equity firm KKR, for Rs. 4,600 crores in June 2021.
The Patel’s have achieved this success by launching a series of smartly positioned and well-marketed personal care and over-the-counter products. While some of their products were pitted against market leaders, many created new categories. Here’s a look at their winning brands and the insight behind each.
Launched in 1986, the pain-relief ointment Moov, is Paras Pharmaceuticals’s most successful brand.
Insight: The pain-relief market was dominated by Iodex from GlaxoSmithKline & Beecham. Iodex came with a peculiar purple colour and strong smell. In contrast, Moov was a white, pleasant-smelling ointment in a tube. It was initially launched for knee-pain but growth stagnated since this addressed only a smaller, older demographic. Moov was re-launched as a back-pain specialist, which helped it become a resounding success. The name came from the insight that the most common way to address pain was to halt activity and lie down. While the launch slogan was “Aa se Aha Tak” or (“From Ouch to Aha”), the team also used this insight in one of their later campaigns: “Move lagakar so” or “Apply Moov before you sleep.”
Given our propensity for open footwear, cracked heels are common amongst Indian women. Story has it that Darshan Patel was initially preparing a product to take on Burnol – a burns-relief ointment, but then realised that with safer kitchen equipment, burns were declining.
Insight: While at a railway station, he noticed that most women ascending stairs had cracked heels and decided to re-formulate the burns ointment for this ailment. There was no competing product at the time – a few people used Vaseline petroleum jelly. Paras launched Krack cream in 1993 and brought focus to a hitherto-ignored part of the body. For a while, Krack even outsold Moov. The packaging was more or less a clone of the US-based brand Scholl.
SetWet, a hair gel for men was pitched against Brylcream, which dominated 75% of the male grooming market in 2005.
Insight: Younger men saw Brylcream as their ‘Dad’s hair cream.’ In direct contrast to Brylcream’s sedate and rather dull image, SetWet was sharply targeted to address younger men. The packaging and the communication focused on sex appeal, with the launch slogan “Very very sexy.” SetWet rapidly overtook Brylcream to dominate the youth market.
Marico which acquired the brand from Reckitt has stuck to the core positioning, only changing the slogan to “Sada sexy raho” or ”May you always be sexy.”
Vini Cosmetics, Darsha Patel’s second venture, launched FOGG – a deodorant to take on the ‘smell-good’ market. Colognes and perfumes in India are used only by a small section of people. Mass Indian consumers will use just one product to address body odour and smell good. The market leader in deodorants was Axe, which is owned by Unilever.
Insight: FOGG stands for ‘Friends of Good Guys’ and ’Friends of Good Girls.’ The brand positioning, in classic Darshan Patel style, sharply addressed a pain point in the market. Research showed that a common grouse with deodorants was the fact that they were full of ‘gas’ and delivered too few sprays. FOGG launched with a direct promise: “A can will give you 800 sprays.” In two years, they had gained 24% of the market.
These are just four of the many brands that Paras and Vini created. Each one was launched with bold positioning, memorable communication and massive distribution. If you think about it carefully, those are still the three most important ingredients for consumer brand success.