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Marketing Strategy of Vaseline brand | Story of a 150-year-old skincare brand | Petroleum Jelly

In this comprehensive article, we will talk about marketing, branding, advertising & strategy of HUL (Unilever) brand Vaseline.


We will learn about below topics in detail:


1. History of Vaseline:


One of the first packaging of Vaseline, the wonder jelly
One of the first packaging of Vaseline, the wonder jelly

The pre-story of Vaseline starts in 1859 when a 22 year of old chemist Robert Chesebrough learned about a natural, waxy ingredient, rich in minerals from deep within the earth, which had visible skin-repairing properties.

After several years of testing, Robert patented the product in 1865 and launched the Brand Vaseline in 1870. He began distributing this pure petroleum jelly in North America. He accomplished selling 1400 tins/day by 1874.

One of the earliest advertisement of Vaseline.
One of the earliest advertisements of Vaseline.

By the 1900s, Vaseline became the handiest skincare product used by soldiers to get relief from their sore feet and by families for skin repair use.

It took almost 100 years for Vaseline to launch a brand extension by making body lotions under the Vaseline Brand. From there on, it became the go-to product to save your sorry skin.



2. What is Brand Vaseline? The Core elements of the Brand Vaseline.

In the world of skincare, there are only two kinds of brands- first, the ones that make your skin healthy, and second, the one that makes your skin beautiful. Vaseline is the former kind of brand with the motto- "Beautiful skin is healthy skin".


As a brand, Vaseline encourages its users to involve in positive skin repair routines. You can check their complete blog here.



3. How do they make Vaseline Petroleum Jelly?


As Vaseline is a proprietary product of Unilever, we don't know how it is made. But, we do know how petroleum jelly, the main ingredient of Vaseline, is made.


Petroleum Jelly is made using waxy petroleum material formed on oil rigs. The lighter and thinner oil-based products make up petroleum jelly, also known as white petrolatum. The material is purified using vacuum distillation. Well, it is a lot of technical stuff, so let's focus on marketing which is our forte.


4. Marketing Mix of Vaseline Petroleum Jelly | 4Ps of Vaseline


Currently, the brand Vaseline is more than just a petroleum jelly protecting your skin in winter. Unilever has launched a number of products under the mother brand of Vaseline under the category of Moisturizers, Lip care, Body butter, hand care, and also an entire range for men. More about it in the next section.


Here let us do a simple 4P analysis for the most famous petroleum Jelly: Vaseline

4Ps of Vaseline
4P of Vaseline

1. Product:

  • 100% Pure & triple-filtered petroleum jelly.

  • Product is hypoallergenic & helps heal dry, damaged & cracked skin.

  • Product has occlusive properties that create a protective barrier.

  • It helps in preventing dryness associated with Eczema.


2. Price:

  • In India, the plain variant is available in 4 SKUs from 21 gm to 200 gm.

  • Price starts from Rs. 50 for the smallest SKU and Rs. 375 for the biggest one which is 200 gm.


3. Place:

  • Buy it from retail shops nearby.

  • Buy it from modern retail such as Walmart, Carrefour, Dmart, etc.

  • Buy it online on eCommerce websites like Amazon, Flipkart, etc.

  • Get it from hyperlocal quick commerce platforms like Zepto, Blinkit, etc.


4. Promotion:

  • Most eCommerce players and quick commerce hyperlocal brands provide discounts of 4% to 25% depending upon the season.

  • As it is not a serious purchase decision, people aren’t much concerned about discounts.


5. Product Mix of Vaseline Brand. (Product Line, Extension, Category):

We have made a complete product mix of the brand Vaseline in the image below. Vaseline has 5 major categories namely:

  1. Healing Jelly

  2. Lotions and moisturizers

  3. Lip Care

  4. Hand Care

  5. Gels and body butters

  6. Men

Product mix of Vaseline Brand
Product mix of Vaseline Brand

6. SWOT Analysis of Brand Vaseline:

Vaseline has enjoyed a successful reign for more than 150 years. Currently, it looks like they have to work hard on addressing the weaknesses and eliminating the threats.


A. Strength:

  • 150-Year-old strong brand.

  • Extensive distribution network in Deep rural geographies due to Unilever.

  • Strong R&D facilities capable of reinventing the product.


B. Weakness:

  • Heavy reliance on petroleum jelly portfolio for revenue.

  • Preference for a legacy brand like Vaseline may drop compared to a versatile Unilever brand like Dove.

  • Increased reliance on trade promotion compared to Advertising.

C. Opportunities:

  • Vaseline brand to leverage the full potential of the entire range.

  • Focus on developing geographies in Africa, Latin America, and Asia.

  • Vaseline loyal base to be farmed for up-selling of Lotions, Skincare & Hand care options.

D. Threats:

  • People’s preference is shifting towards non-petroleum jelly-based products such as creams & lotions.

  • As manufacturing petroleum jelly is easy, Copycat brands are eating market share.

  • Market Saturation in developed geographies.


7. Competitive Landscape:

It is said that "You don't live a long & successful life without making an enemy or two." During a very long life of 150 years, Vaseline has seen many competitors have killed a big chunk of those while some survived.


Currently, Vaseline has two kinds of competitors:


A. Internal: Brands from Unilever bucket which acts as a competition.

  • Dove

  • Lakme

  • Ponds

Above 3 iconic Unilever brands compete to gain maximum consumer share.


B. External: Brands from other companies which act as competition.

  • Nivea

  • Johnson & Johnson

  • Olay

  • Garnier

  • Parachute from Marico


8. Distribution strategy of Vaseline:

Vaseline basically follows Unilever's distribution which pretty much becomes the benchmark of every Indian FMCG company.


Here is the infographic of the complete distribution model of Indian FMCG/FMCD. For a detailed explanation of technical terms, please check here.


9: Word-of-mouth Marketing / Advertising Strategy of Vaseline:

H&M brings out a new clothing range every second week, L'Oréal launches new colors every season, and Netflix keeps on refreshing on daily basis. All these changes are due to people's preference for newness. New is essential in today's world.


Now, how will a 150-year-old brand innovate as the world expect?


The brand communication of Vaseline is more or less similar to other Unilever brands from a bird's eye view similar to Dove or Ponds. Although One big difference is the sole focus on skin health. It is also good that Vaseline did not extend the brand to hair care so far.


Vaseline's marketing done by its loyal users far supersede the company's efforts in traditional ATLs. Here are some amazing key drivers which keep Vaseline relevant:


A. Everyday uses & Survival hacks:


Apart from protecting wounds from germs that would infect them, Vaseline has become an essential item in Hiker & Camper bags. It provides relief from poison ivy and lubricates locks and keys that have rusted. It can also protect from frostbite.


One crucial hack is the Vaseline Fire Balls. You can turn a cotton ball into a fireball by rubbing the jelly on it.


It provides relief from poison ivy, lubricates keys and locks that have rusted, can protect from frostbite (where hands and feet can crack open from dryness from the cold), and is a great fire starter if you have a cotton ball that you can rub the jelly on.

Here is the video for key survival hacks:


B. Beauty uses:


People love to use Vaseline as a beauty despite so many alternatives available in the market. You would be shocked to see the number of Vaseline beauty hacks on Youtube.

Here is the one, if you would like to take a dig.



Well, that's the end of the comprehensive article on Vaseline petroleum jelly.



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