Wipro Consumer Care & Lighting (WCCL) is one of the fastest growing FMCG companies not just in India but across South East Asia, Middle East and China. While Wipro, for most people today, is associated with being an IT giant, the consumer care business under WCCL has been hiding in plain sight. It was split from the parent company and spun off into an independent entity in 2014. It is now part of Wipro Enterprises which holds several non-IT businesses apart from WCCL.
Wipro in Nepal represents the group’s bestselling products. “The market here is very different in comparison to India. I studied the market here for some time and designed a few marketing strategies to go ahead,” says Ashutosh Bhushan, Country Head, Wipro Nepal.
Ashutosh moved to Nepal during the pandemic. He is focusing on consumer markets outside Kathmandu. “In the capital, the branding is quite visible but the outer regions need greater attention. I am currently focusing on tapping consumer markets which is the only gateway for other remote regions,” Ashutosh adds.
From household names like Santoor, Yardley, Enchanteur, Safewash, Maxkleen, Giffy, WCCL has a portfolio of products in personal hygiene, liquid detergents, dish wash liquid, floor cleaners, surface sanitisers and energy drinks.
Santoor soap is the flagship brand and was launched in 1986. “During its initial years, the soap’s natural ingredients – sandal and turmeric – were highlighted. One of the reasons for Santoor’s growth in the category is its consistency in communicating the core proposition of younger-looking skin while making the message contemporary,” he shares.
In India, orange Santoor is one of the largest soap brands, and in Nepal white Santoor is popular. “Looking at the sales, the white variant of the soap is preferred by people here,” he affirms.
Santoor is the first and the only Indian soap brand to be among the Rs 2,000 crore+ consumer brands in India and recently attained second rank in terms of soap sales. “The shift from ingredient-based to benefit-based positioning was not without its risks but the soap managed to retain its consumer base as the former premise of ‘natural ingredients’ was built into the result,” he shares.
WCCL is among the top players in personal care in markets such as Malaysia, Vietnam, Singapore, Middle East; a leading player in female fragrances in Indonesia; among the top three players in body lotions and hair styling in Philippines; and again, in the top three in detergents and male grooming products in Southern China, besides its obvious base in India. “It has made a tentative foray into African markets. WCCL’s international forays have come through carefully strategised acquisitions,” he says.
WCCL has made more than a dozen acquisitions in the last 15 years, including major ones like Malayasia-based Unza Holdings as early as 2007, Yardley UK and Singapore-based LD Waxsons in 2012, China-based –Zhonghshan Ma Er in 2016, South African Canway Corporation and Filipino company Splash Corporation in 2019.
For the fiscal year end in March 31, 2022-2023, WCCL did about Rs 10,000 crore in revenue of which 52% came from outside India. “Of course, because of the pandemic like everybody else, we too were impacted, otherwise both the growth and margins would have been even better,” asserts Ashutosh.
As the FMCG sector recovers from the impact unleashed by the pandemic, Ashutosh is targeting the feeder markets across