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XIBMS – Burnol has been around for six decades as a yellow burns-relief ointment

XIBMS – Burnol has been around for six decades as a yellow burns-relief ointment


XIBMS – Burnol has been around for six decades as a yellow burns-relief ointment

Burnol has been around for six decades as a yellow burns-relief ointment.  It has almost become a generic brand.  Its yellow colour reminds one of turmeric, the traditional burns-relief remedy.

The brand has been recently acquired by Dr. Morepen (a subsidiary of Morepen Laboratories Ltd.) from Reckit Piramal.  The brand has high recall value.  Morepen is the brand’s third owner (Boots is the first, Pirmal second).

Burnol’s position in the mind space of the consumer is that of the burns ointment.  It is open to marketers to reposition the brand.  But sometimes the brand does not budge from its original position.  Burnol is a typical example.  It is so strong as anti-burn ointment that it has become intractable.

Burnol introduced by Boots started domestic manufacturing in 1948. JWT handled the account.  Formerly, it was sold on prescription.  In 1960 it became over-the counter (OTC) product.

As Indian housewives depended upon kerosene or wood-fed stoves, Burnol became an integral part of the household.  In 1967, Burnol’s application was far widened, to include antiseptic properties against cuts and other wounds. But it did not succeed and Boots reverted to its original anti-burns position.  In 1972, Shield was launched by SKF as a competitive brand.  It was followed by Medigard by J.L. Morison.  But they could not affect Burnol.

In 1980, a commercial on DD showed a daughter entering kitchen and getting burns due to oil splash. The mother uses Burnol and the VO says “Haath jal gaya? Shukar hai ghar mein Burnol jo hai”.

Kitchen became safer in 85s after the switch-over to LPG-based cooking and the use of gas-lighter instead of the match boxes.  Burnol started stagnating.

Though the product had high recall, the actual reality was that households did not keep the product handy.  Plain water was being recommended to treat burns.  Turmeric, as it causes stains, was becoming a liability.  The product composition was changed by changing colour from deep yellow to non-staining light yellow.  People were coaxed to keep the product within easy reach, Sales showed some improvement.

In 1995, again it was repositioned as antiseptic for multiple usages. The colour was made even lighter. It was given a new perfume.  But the brand failed to compete with other antiseptic creams such as Boroline and Dettol. The brand could not be moved from its ‘burns’ spot in the consumer mind. It’s becoming generic as a burns remedy proved to be its cause for stagnation.

In 2000, Burnol was sold to Reckitt Pirmal for 12.5 crore.  It became Burnol Plus.  It was positioned as ‘first aid cream’.  It registered a turnover of ` 6.2 crore in 2002. As Reckit Pirmal joint venture came apart, Burnol was sold to Dr. Morepen in 2003.  It is being relaunched in April 2004.

Burns market including dressings stand as ` 39 crore. Antiseptic market stands at ` 210 crore.  The old need is passing into history. The strategy should be to retain its original uniqueness, and still broad-base it.  There are new dangers such as geysers, irons, ovens and so on.  Burnol can become a cream that ensures safety if present. Burnol should be promoted as brand that cares.

Burnol is now marketed by Dr. Morepen Lab as protective cream which should be kept handy always.



  1. As a Management consultant give your comments on Burnol as a brand.
  2. What do you understand by the concept of a Brand?  Describe the characteristics of Brands.
  3. a.   Define the Brand Image. Explain the dimensions of Brand Image. 
  4. What is meant by Brand Identity? Explain the different elements of Brand Identity.
  5. Discuss in detail the different stages of brand building process.
  6.  What is Brand Audit?  Explain its importance.
  7. Describe the two steps in brand audit.
  8. “Positioning is an outcome of our perceptions about the brand relative to the competing brands”   – Discuss with examples.
  9. How do consumers perceive and choose brands? Discuss. 
  10. What are the different phases of strategic brand management process?
  11. Discuss the “TEN COMMANDMENTS” of Global Branding.

XIBMS – Burnol has been around for six decades as a yellow burns-relief ointment

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