Hindustan Unilever (HUL) will rename its skin-lightening brand Fair & Lovely to make it more "inclusive and diverse". The decision comes at a time when the company and other such product sellers have come under fire for reinforcing racial stereotypes.
"Taking forward the brand's journey towards a more inclusive vision of beauty, the company will stop using the word 'Fair' in the brand name," HUL said in a statement.
The new name will be announced after receiving regulatory approval, the company said.
Also read: Why HUL might not withdraw Fair & Lovely — nearly Rs 4,100 crore annual revenue from India alone
The brand is committed to celebrating all skin tones, the company said in the statement. "The company will continue to evolve its advertising, to feature women of different skin tones, representative of the variety of beauty across India," it said.
Recently, Johnson & Johnson, the US healthcare and FMCG giant, decided to discontinue its skin-whitening creams amid the ‘Black Lives Matter’ protests.
The Indian fairness cream market, dominated by HUL, Procter & Gamble and Garnier (L'Oréal), is between Rs 5,000-10,000 crore, as per FMCG analysts.
Unlike J&J, other companies are unlikely to stop selling fairness or anti-ageing products as the stakes are high, brand experts say.
J&J said it will stop selling the Clean & Clear Fairness line of products that is available in India. Earlier this month, the company discontinued its Neutrogena Fine Fairness line in Asia.
Also read: Fair & Lovely brand name change won't have negative impact on HUL: Expert
The beauty industry has faced criticism for controversial products many times.
In 2017, Nivea faced backlash in Africa for marketing a skin lightening lotion.
As of 2012, Fair & Lovely has occupied 80 percent of the fairness cream market in India and is one of HUL's most successful cosmetics lines.
But it has faced criticisms and recently an online petition was circulated to stop its sales.
Until recently, these products were primarily aimed at women. However, over the past decade, men, too, have become their target group, with many companies introducing separate fairness products.
About 6,277 tonnes of skin lightener, including products marketed as anti-aging creams targeting dark spots or freckles, were sold worldwide in 2019, according to Euromonitor International.