HLL's direct marketing biz achieves breakeven

The Indian Express Online/November 25, 2003
By Namrata Singh

Mumbai -- Hindustan Lever Network, the direct marketing business of Hindustan Lever Ltd (HLL), has achieved breakeven this year.

The network, which was originally launched as 'Aviance' four years back, has become the distant second player in the Indian multi-level marketing industry, where Amway is the leader. Last year, HLL was ranked way behind other players at the seventh or eighth position.

HLL director (new ventures) Dalip Sehgal told FE that the company hopes to become the leading player in the multi-level marketing industry in the next five years. The current turnover of Hindustan Lever Network, which recruits consultants at the rate of 25,000 plus per month, is estimated at around Rs 100 crore. Amway's turnover is estimated at around Rs 500 crore. The other players in this field include Oriflame, Avon and Modicare.

Mr Sehgal said the target for 2004 is to have four lakh consultants, with the long-term target being half-a-million consultants in five years.

HLL had relaunched Aviance as Hindustan Lever Network early this calendar year, in order to harness business opportunities outside the personal care category. The direct marketing network will now be used for a wider range of product offerings, such as foods.

"We are planning to include foods in our direct marketing set up. We are still exploring the brand name to be used for the food products which, in all probability, would be different from what HLL sells through the retail channel," said Mr Sehgal.

HLL's direct marketing network currently has four products - Aviance personal products for women, Denim personal products for men, Lever Home detergent and Mentadent toothpaste. Mr Sehgal said the product range of Hindustan Lever Network would be broad-based so as to include categories which HLL is already present in through the retail channel. HLL hopes to launch its food products through the direct marketing channel early next year.

Mr Sehgal said the company's understanding of the consumer's needs, pricing issues and a superior supply chain has enabled it to reach out to 40 cities and 1,250 towns in the country. Hindustan Lever Network has also undergone an organisational revamp, with 55 people - having profiles different from those in HLL - being recruited over the last one year.

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