The launch of ‘CIF’ by HUL underscores the fact that the Indian shopper has taken a quantum leap in terms of his demand & choice of products.CIF is the largest selling surface cleaner in the world & is positioned as a small surface specialist cleaner.HUL realized that with the changing infrastructure, the urban Indian populace required a specialized product which can cater to its cleaning needs in a hassle free way. It was found out that Indians used proxy products like detergent soaps,powders,dishwash liquids etc. to clean the surface of stove,sink,steel racks etc.-Therefore there was an evident need gap which created the market for CIF in India. Typically Unilever does an LSM analysis before launching a product in a new market.LSM which stands for Living Standard Measure is a scale ranging from 1 to 18 based on the living standard of the people in the country where 1 stands for ‘Lowest’ & 18 stands for ‘Highest’. CIF is targeted towards countries having an LSM of more than 5; so while India has an LSM rating of 3-it still saw the launch of CIF primarily because of the growing number of double income families who are willing to pay a premium on a product which caters to their specific need.
HUL is focused on development of new markets which is precisely the reason why the company is engaged in major restructuring exercises viz: relaunch of Sunsilk & Dove. Also, there were major price cuts in Power brands like Rin to uptrade customers to mid-segment from lower price points.CIF would be an attempt to develop future STAR(of the BCG matrix) for HUL.
The product would face stiff competition from Reckitt Benckiser’s Easy Off Bang & SC Johnson’s Mr. Muscle which are also positioned as speciality surface cleaners. However, CIF is likely to face several challenges in terms of its usage. Indians are wary of gel or cream based products as users cannot afford profligacy with these products. Besides, Indians demand hard-cleaning due to their eating & living habits. Therefore, shoppers are not convinced that one drop of cream would be able to clean the surface adequately. For Indian shoppers one ‘cap-full’ is definitely better than ‘one drop’. Besides, there is ambiguity regarding the surfaces that these surface-cleaners can clean. While the TVCs portray CIF as a stove cleaner; Easy Off Bang is portrayed as a multi-purpose kitchen & bathroom surface cleaner. There is confusion as to whether Easy Off Bang can be used to clean Oven surface or other delicate surfaces & whether CIF can be used for tough cleaning like rust & water stains.
The way forward for CIF would be to customize the product based on Indian living conditions & adopt a clear positioning with distinct POP(Point of Parity) & Point of Difference(POD) for the product.