Ananya Pathak
Social Media

Why are people trolling HUL on Twitter?

#BoycottHUL was listed as 'Trending in India' on Twitter on March 18, 2020. Tweets criticised Hindustan Unilever for being 'opportunistic'.

With the outbreak of COVID-19, the demand for soaps, hand sanitisers, masks and similar products has swelled globally. Amid the ongoing crisis, netizens went on to allege that the Indian FMCG company Hindustan Unilever (HUL) had hiked the prices of soaps and hand sanitisers. On Wednesday, March 18, #BoycottHUL was listed as 'Trending in India' on Twitter. Tweets criticised the company, which goes back eight decades, for being 'opportunistic' and 'shameless'.

However, HUL claims that the allegations are false. It goes on to say that the prices of soaps were increased 5-6 per cent across its brands: Lux, Lifebuoy, Dove, Hamam, Liril and Pears, back in January 2020. The reason was an increase in the price of palm oil, a key ingredient for soaps. In fact, by the end of 2019, the price of palm oil had increased by over 25 per cent. The same was shared with the media and market on January 31, during HUL's quarterly earnings call.

The increased prices hit the market in February, long before the Coronavirus spread in India.

HUL put out an article on its official website to clarify the same:

Recently, there were some news reports claiming that HUL increased prices of its soaps. Subsequently, there was some criticism against the company on social media that we were trying to profiteer amid a health crisis.

We would like to state that this is completely false. We have not increased prices of soaps after the outbreak of COVID-19 in India, especially when people need hygiene products the most.

The price of palm oil, a key ingredient for soaps, has been increasing for many months, and at the end of 2019, was up over 25 per cent. Therefore, in January 2020, we increased prices of our soaps by 5-6 per cent across our brands: Lux, Lifebuoy, Dove, Hamam, Liril and Pears. This was shared with the media and market on January 31, 2020 during our quarterly earnings call. The price hikes landed in the market in February, which was well before the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in India.

The HUL article also said:

We took up this matter of incorrect reporting seriously and engaged with the media. Post that, they issued a clarification on their social media handles and removed the misleading story from their website.

We are doing everything in our power to make our range of hygiene products, including Lifebuoy and Domex, available for our consumers despite all the disruptions on account of COVID-19. We are also ramping up the distribution and production of our hygiene brands, whilst working with the government to increase awareness on proper hygiene by washing hands with soap, or use of sanitisers.

We are fully committed to supporting the government and various authorities in our collective effort of stopping the spread of COVID-19. And, we will not allow misleading and malicious information to spread in these times.