How Sunsilk arrested stagnating growth in Malaysia


The haircare and shampoo category has been dominated by multinational/international players in the Malaysia market for a long time. But the category has been stagnating at 15% CAGR.

One of the ways in which these players are trying to steal market share from each other is by launching specialised haircare products. Most of the brands have an anti-hair fall shampoo and nearly all of them boast damage control features

Sunsilk has been one of the leaders in this category. It had around a 21% share in 2012. But over the years, the growth has stagnated as with any mature product category. Sunsilk also launched a specialised product called Sunsilk Clean & Fresh to arrest this growth. The product was targeted at young hijab-wearing working women.

Because of cultural sensitivities, however, it couldn’t show the hijab-wearing women washing their hair (usage) or flaunting their hairstyles (core proposition) in the communication.


Sunsilk embarked on owning the “hijab styling” territory. “Hijab styling” replaced “hair styling”, and Sunsilk engaged with its audience through three big content initiatives revolving around the hijab (hijab styling videos, mini-drama, and a hijab fashion reality show) as part of a well-integrated campaign.

The campaign was based on the insight that while by wearing the hijab these women conformed to their culture and religion, by styling it they showcased their individuality and distinct personalities. The hijab was thus turning from being religious attire to a fashion statement while still respecting Muslim values.

Sunsilk thought of using this consumer insight to use hijab fashion as a platform to communicate to its audience. Usually, Sunsilk’s ads featured women washing and styling their hair. In Malaysia instead it replaced it with hijab styling.

The campaign Sunsilk Hijabista was born.


Sunsilk, together with Mindshare, created a series of core content projects across multiple media and used the synergies across the media to communicate better. TV was used to create mass awareness for the content and then it took it from TV to digital media to create further engagement.

On digital it used banner ads, Facebook ads, YouTube channel ads, bloggers, and also had a sponsored lifestyle page on MSN Yahoo and a Twitter page.

To begin with, it partnered with five popular hijab bloggers and created 10 hijab styling videos for 10 different occasions. These videos were put on the Sunsilk YouTube channel as well the social networking sites.

It also featured these in popular hijab magazines. Taking it further, it had a drama series in which it showed a journey of a young woman who was inspired to become a hijab fashion stylist, but since she came from a very conservative background, she had to go through various struggles. In the series, it showed Sunsilk had a contest online and she goes online and participates in it which helps her realise her dream.

Sunsilk also had a nationwide hijab designer/model reality show. It was primarily driven by social media. It invited people to photograph their hijab designs and themselves wearing the hijab and put it up on its Facebook page through an app which it had created. Once up, based on the judges’ view, 10 people were chosen as designers and 10 as models.

They competed against each other through the reality show. These were very short-form content on TV so about five-minute shots on some of the most popular channels in Malaysia.

For people who wanted to catch more content, they had to go to the Sunsilk YouTube page and Sunsilk’s social media. TV also drove traffic to its digital brand platforms. All this culminated in a fashion show in which the designers and models were showcased at the Islamic Fashion Festival.


These activities led to a great deal of digital engagement for the brand. About 50% who were exposed to the content on TV also went online to engage with its content through social media, according to Mindshare. The brand had about 3.5 million views on its channels which were newly created.

In terms of social media, it saw 300,000-plus engagements and acquired more than 28,000 new fans, purely based on the hijab contest.

After a decline of minus 5% in 2012, Sunsilk grew by 9% in 2013. Brand imagery scores among Malay hijab-wearing women grew by double digits.

The case study was shared by Saurabh Tyagi, director of client leadership for Mindshare at Marketing Insights organised by A+M recently.

Read more about what happened at the Insights here.

*Pictured: A Sunsilk inspired blogger video on hijab styling.

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