The consumer goods multinational is using the increasingly dominant platform of mobile phones, which is still fairly novel in rural areas, to sell products from its brands, such as Lifebuoy soap and Fair & Lovely skin cream.
The company is set to reach 350 million villagers in India by streaming Bollywood music interspersed with adverts to their phones, according to Bloomberg.
A study by the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India has noted that fast moving consumer goods will see more than 50% growth in rural and semi-urban India by the end of 2014: Unilever’s latest move comes as consumer goods companies more widely are mobilising to take advantage of this trend.
To access the weekly 15-minute music segment, consumers call a free designated hotline. There is no element of personalization to the content, which in part is made up of advert’s for Unilever’s brands in the country.
Last month, the service reportedly reached 2 million people; though Bloomberg notes that the effectiveness of this marketing move is likely to have a time-limit, as it appears to owe its current success largely to its novelty.
This latest move from Unilever follows its participation earlier this year in the formation of a Facebook-led alliance called ‘Internet.org’; a programme of facilitating internet access nationwide in India.
Annual growth for the Indian hair and beauty sector is set to continue at a rapid rate, and is expected to reach $6.2 by 2015, according to ‘International Beauty Mart' (IBM).
This coincides with the approaching explosion of online sales for the country, where revenues of e-commerce companies may increase threefold in the next three years, reaching 504 billion rupees ($8.13 billion) according to Indian research firm Crisil.
The new music service is an instance of beauty brands making moves to address and unite both rising trends.