Brand Failures: Vicco Turmeric

By on September 24, 2012

One of our readers, Snigdharup Banerjee, got inspired by our earlier post on Vicco Turmeric, did further research on the subject, and taking cues from our article and some other references from the web, came up with this article. Do share your comments on what you think of Brand Vicco.

Vicco was founded in 1952 by the late K.V. Pendharkar and at a point of time were one of the most renowned Ayurvedic product manufacturers over the world. Their most famous products included Vicco Turmeric cream, Vicco Sunscreen and Vicco Vajradanti. The flagship product, Vicco Turmeric, was targeted towards the young woman, who was about to get married. During the late 80s and early 90s, marriage was the most important and the most celebrated occassion of a woman’s life. Vicco appealed to that particular segment of the market, with its product, which was also not earmarked as a cosmetic, but as a natural alternative.

Most of Vicco’s competitors also had taken and exploited the path by ‘marriage aspiration’ route but they changed the course with the evolution of the modern woman whereas Vicco stuck to the same and lost market share.

The rise and fall of Vicco is an interesting case study for marketers. It’s devastating fall can now be a classic example of a brand suffering from ‘Marketing Myopia’. Vicco did not anticipate the change in the stance of the target audience. Not acknowledging the fact the modern woman was becoming self independent and confident, thus making marriage one of the many other reasons to celebrate, primarily caused its downfall.

Let us now delve deep into some important aspects of the brand.



The “Yellow Colored” Cream

Vicco was in the ‘naturals’ segment of the beauty industry. Vicco Turmeric, the flagship product, is still recognized by many in the industry as one of the best products till date. Not only in the country, Vicco Turmeric was successfully exported to many countries. Vicco Turmeric contained 16% turmeric and 0.5%sandalwood. The process of manufacturing was clearly defined on the packs which depicted Vicco’s confidence. The product had a strong aroma of sandalwood oil which became synonymous with the brand. Though, at the early stages the yellow color of the cream was a deterrent (other beauty cream were white), but due to its effectiveness and Word of Mouth publicity, Vicco became a rage in the country.

All in all, at this juncture one can conclude that Vicco Turmeric was an excellent and revolutionary product.


Vicco was one of the first brands to promise ayurvedic beauty care in a tube. At that point, its competitors were HUL’s Fair and Lovely, CavinKare’s Fairever and Emami’s various skin products. Vicco had an advantage of a superior natural product over them but when it came to packaging, it scored very low. All the competitors had evolving packaging to lure their target group whereas Vicco stuck to the reddish orange tube. It understood the value of packaging very late and hastily brought in two-three variations but that ended up confusing the TG and hurt them severely

Vicco 2

Packaging 1

Vicco 3

Packaging 2

Vicco 4

Packaging 3

Vicco 5

Packaging 4

The three new introductions were brought out in a very little time. In fact that was the primary reason for generating all the confusion. The packaging killed its distinctness and slowly it moved towards a packaging which was similar to ‘Fair and Lovely’. The Vicco loyalists had just wanted a good packaging which was misinterpreted as ‘similar to competitor packaging’.


Most of the population who are in the 20+ age group distinctly remember the Vicco Turmeric Cream and this can be primarily attributed to its super famous jingle’ “Vicco turmeric, nahi cosmetic, Vicco turmeric ayurvedic cream…”. Vicco used 3 different advertisements, one of which starred famous actress Sangeeta Bijlani and another starring Mrunal Kulkarni. Both of them registered and instant connect with the audience which was supported by Vicco’s inherent theme of marriage being the biggest occasion in a woman’s life. In the initial years, the brand thus captured heavy market share. They also successfully bought TV ad spots during Chitrahaar, Rangoli to reach a wider population base. Moreover, Vicco was among the first brands to start the mystery buyer program which was eventually not leveraged.

But the ads were not revived and same ads were relayed year after year though consumer preferences were changing. Not using consumer insights for their executional idea and relying heavily on their blockbuster product was a costly mistake and they lost all market share. Eventually the ads were also faded off.

Understanding Consumer

As already discussed above, Vicco serves as a classic example of Marketing Myopia. In the early 90s, the woman in the country was evolving. She was becoming self confident and independent and had started progressing. But the Vicco advertisements emphasized on marriage being the single biggest achievement/occasion in her life. This mismatch was due to their lack of customer insights. If they had proper access to what their TG actually wanted, they might have implemented the insights in the copy strategy. The competition thus started overtaking Vicco, in terms of advertising and positioning, and the conservative approach of Vicco saw it lose to HLL’s (Now HUL) Fair and Lovely.

We can conclude by saying that Vicco excelled when it came to the product and promotions(at that particular time) but their lack of the understanding of their evolving customer base, continuation with the same theme in their ads and highly ordinary packaging cost them their market share

The state of affairs for the brand is presently so appalling that in one of my recent visits to a modern retail in the city of Indore (for research on the same) it took me more than 2hrs to trace a Vicco SKU.

Snigdharup Banerjee is a B.Tech in Electrical Engineering from NIT Rourkela and currently pursuing his PGDM in IIM Indore. His interest in marketing stems from his love of decrypting advertisements since high school. A Steve Job devotee who, he believes, was the best marketeer ever, he interned with Marketing Division of Sony Entertainment Network (Multi Screen Media) this summer. Like most others in the country, He has been brought up in the lap of Bollywood and Cricket making him a die hard fan of Om Puri, KayKay Menon, MS Dhoni, KKR (and a silent Gunner at heart). He is an avid quizzer and a painter apart from being an awesome bathroom singer.

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