In a bid to increase their customer base and attract a new generation of consumers, Hashmi Group have, for the first time in their 225-year history, embarked on a ‘rebranding journey’, which began last year. The initiative began with two components.
The first is a new logo – a bold, double-lined ‘H’ (representing Hashmi) – introduced essentially to compete in international beauty markets – which will be used on some of their newer products. According to Mohammad Amir Hashmi, Director, Hashmi Group, “The old logo will still exist on some of our products as it is the identity of the Hashmi family, specifically, our eye care segment. We export our products around the globe and people recognise our products through this logo.”
The second is a new product: Hashmi Majestic Black Kajal, which has been introduced with contemporary packaging, and carries the new logo in order to give the traditional product a modern look and appeal. The product has its own website: hashmikajal.com (prior to this, all Hashmi products were sold at hashmisurma.com). Through the new website, Hashmi specifically want to attract younger women (between 18 and 24) and in addition to Majestic Black Kajal, all older variants of Hashmi kajals (tube, chubby stick and gels) can be purchased on the website.
According to Zeeshan Niaz Ahmed, CEO, Benchmark (Hashmi’s creative agency), a separate website for kajal will allow the brand to identify and directly interact with current and potential customers and receive feedback unlike earlier, when Hashmi employees had to periodically visit retailers throughout Pakistan to find out what their consumers thought of their products.
The reason why the brand opted to separate kajal from surma, according to Hashmi, is because both the segments have different users. “We already have a loyal customer base for our surma; men and women who have been using it for years for various reasons such as habit, tradition, as sunnat or as a medicine because kohl keeps your eyes cleans and protects them from infections and ulcerations.” (Even today, it is tradition among many families for mothers to apply kohl to their baby’s eyes soon after birth to strengthen their eyes or prevent them from the evil eye).
The Hashmi Group was established in 1794, by Hakim Mohammad Hashmi (Hashmi’s great-great grandfather), who ran an ayurvedic clinic in Bareilly India and prepared health and eye care products for his patients, including their well-known Mohammad Hashim Tajik Surma (kohl). The business moved to Pakistan after Partition and today, has three manufacturing facilities in Karachi. Their products constitute three categories: healthcare (Hashmi Ispaghol, Hashmi Joshanda and Hashmi Honey); eye care (Hashmi Surma, Hashmi Surmi and Hashmi Kajal) and personal care (Hashmi Rose Water Facial Mist, Hashmi Hair Oil and Hashmi Henna).
Given the 200-plus year history of the Hashmi Group, one could argue that the introduction of the new logo and website should have happened earlier and could be a case of too little too late. Hashmi responds by saying, “Lifestyles are rapidly changing and things are not the same as they were 30 years ago. Today’s consumers are exposed to digital content and this has raised the competition to new heights. Moreover, since the beauty industry has also undergone a massive revolution, it mandates the constant upgrading of products – hence, the need to rebrand.”
Ahmed adds that the revamping had more to do with the brand’s identity and image. Given that Hashmi products are already top-notch quality, the aim was to elevate the product perception from a necessity to that of luxury while maintaining its premium quality. “We are enabling the brand to evolve into the digital age and a new retail environment. We are not shaking off the old look; rather, we are entering the next stage of the growth cycle in order to boost Hashmi’s market reach further.” Although the Hashmi brand has seen minor changes in their centuries old logo (which depicted an eye), another objective was to differentiate the product range from counterfeits in the market. “A project of this scale has never been attempted before,” remarks Hashmi, who belongs to the fifth generation of the family-owned business.
Majestic Kajal was promoted over radio, OOH and digital (with the biggest budget on OOH spend) and as far as the impact the rebranding has had on the brand image, Ahmed says it has been extremely favourable. “Given that Hashmi is a strongly established brand name and deeply entrenched in the market, we only had to build upon it and our efforts have so far been well received.”
The presence of three dusky models clad in black with their eyes lined with Majestic Black on numerous hoardings as well as digital has given the brand an oomph and instant popularity. “We chose these models so that the younger, digital generation could relate to the brand. We wanted to tell them ‘this is a brand for you’.”
The hope is that the ‘modern’ packaging of Majestic Kajal (silver stick) will enable the brand not only to compete with local competitors (Saeed Ghani and Olivia) but also with international brands that have launched their own kajals and are locally available (ARTDECO, Maybelline, L’Oreal, Revlon, and Rimmel).
Majestic Kajal (priced at Rs 200) is selling well, despite the fact that the company is charging Rs 180 delivery fee for online orders. Hashmi says consumers are paying Rs 380 (almost double the price of the kajal) to buy one kajal stick only. In his opinion customers should order more than a single stick at a time to offset the delivery cost, but that “customers are willing to pay the amount because they believe that since they are buying directly from the website, the product must be authentic.”
Giving his final word, Hashmi opines that like all things in life there are no guarantees and there is a risk factor involved in all transformations. However, he is optimistic that given the legacy and trust Hashmi has earned over two centuries, this transformation will be successful.