Jawaharlal Nehru Death Anniversary Special: India’s First PM Was The Brain Behind Lakme Cosmetic Brand

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On one hand, upper middle class women were spending valuable foreign exchange on western cosmetics while, on other hand, the ones with comparatively lower financial status had no access to quality makeup because of non-availability in the Indian market.


Make In India, Atmanirbhar Bharat, Self-reliant India, and many other synonymous visions spilled by Prime Minister Narendra Modi have also been exercised and promoted by our former Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru.Jawaharlal Nehru was an eminent leader of India’s freedom against the British regime who fought for our country’s independence and went on to become the PM. He was a firm believer of democracy, secularism and socialism that improved India’s economy as well as its image on the international platform.

Right after the independence from British Raj, India was stared by a weak economy. Nehru and government had to quickly come up with measures to revive the staggered economy. Amid the crisis, Nehru observed here were no Indian cosmetic products in the market to compete with the foreign ones.

On one hand, upper middle class women were spending valuable foreign exchange on western cosmetics while, on other hand, the ones with comparatively lower financial status had no access to quality makeup because of non-availability in the Indian market. In order to provide Indian women with their choices of cosmetics and in-turn, save the Indian money running outside country, Nehru decided to find a solution, i.e. ‘Lakme’.

Here’s How Master-mind Nehru Came-Up With First Ever Indian Cosmetic Brand Lakme:

In 1952, Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru personally requested JRD Tata to launch a cosmetics brand as a subsidiary of Tata Group. Nehru believed that Industrialist JRD Tata was the only one with the necessary entrepreneurship to make a difference. Acting on to Nehru’s expectations, Tata, who never takes step back off from a challenge began to study the situation carefully.In the year 1952, Tata Oil Mill (Tomco) started the 100 percent subsidiary company. Simone Tata joined as Director and later became its CEO, spearheading its exponential growth into a household name. While launching the firm, the biggest challenge was build a brand image that would attract both classes of women. To appeal to Indian ladies, the brand had to have an aspirational touch-be affordable to all classes and yet find resonance across the board.

Keeping in mind that the idea was to save the Indian economy, Nehru and Tata’s recalled Hindu Goddess ‘Lakshmi’ which is often associated with wealth and prosperity. However, the leaders also observed there’s no way Indian ladies would be buying anything called Lakshmi kajal or lipstick.

And so Lakmé it was! Deriving from Maa Lakshmi’s name, Nehru settled for ‘Lakme’ as the brand name for the cosmetic company. Started about 67 years ago, this product made its place among foreign brands and today its market share has increased to more than 17.7 percent. Later, in 1996, Tata sold Lakmé  to Hindustan Unilever for Rs 200 crore.

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