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Hindustan Unilever's Kan Khajura Tesan: 'On-Demand' Consumer Communication

ET Cases, 8 pages
AUTHOR(S) : Vijay Kumar Tangirala and Dr. Nagendra V. Chowdary

Case Preview

Hindustan Unilever’s Kan Khajura Tesan: ‘On-Demand’ Consumer Communication


Hindustan Unilever Limited (HUL), India’s largest Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) Company, found it difficult to promote its products among consumers belonging to the rural regions of Bihar and Jharkhand, an important target market for HUL. This was primarily due to power cuts in these states and restricted traditional media coverage. Consumers also found it difficult to access sources of media entertainment. HUL, however, realized that consumers’ access to mobile phones was far greater in these regions, the primary reason being the battery backup. In October 2013, HUL launched the Kan Khajura Tesan campaign in Bihar, wherein mobile phone users could give a missed call to a certain number. They would immediately be called back and could listen to 18 minutes of Bollywood songs, jokes, dialogues – this content was peppered with advertisements of the company’s products.

There was an overwhelming response to the campaign, with the number of subscribers reaching 5 million by February 2014. Kan Khajura Tesan was subsequently extended to Jharkhand where it found a similar success rate. The campaign’s coverage was increased to 10 other states in August 2014. The cumulative impact was that the number of subscribers to the campaign increased to 11 million by December 2014. On account of the campaign, there was considerable increase in the spontaneous awareness for three among HUL’s brands. However, would Kan Khajura Tesan campaign have the wherewithal to come up with equally compelling content when expanding to other states where the local languages dominate?..........


Exhibit I: Kan Khajura Tesan’s Promotional Message in Hindi

Exhibit II: Rural Consumers Listening to Kan Khajura Tesan Compiled

Exhibit III: Independence Day Promotional Message from Kan Khajura Tesan (August 2014)

Teaching Note Preview

Hindustan Unilever’s Kan Khajura Tesan: ‘On-Demand’ Consumer Communication



This case study portrays how companies can innovate in employing a combination of traditional and mobile media technologies in reaching out to consumers. Hindustan Unilever Limited (HUL) was finding it difficult to promote its products among its potential consumer base in the rural regions of states such as Bihar and Jharkhand. The reason was the heavy power cuts in these regions which limited the time people watched television. HUL overcame this hindrance by launching, in October 2013, Kan Khajura Tesan (KKT). KKT was a free and on-demand mobile radio channel. To avail of the service, consumers had to give a missed call to a certain phone number. They, in turn, would get a call back and could listen to 18 minutes of entertainment content such as Bollywood songs and jokes every week. HUL also used these 18 minutes to promote some of its products. The service proved so popular that by December 2014, KKT had a subscriber base of over 11 million and the service was expanded to at least ten other states in the country. KKT also resulted in a rise in the spontaneous awareness of some of the company’s products among consumers. However, would preference for regional language content prove to be a deterrent for deployment of KKT in the rest of the country?

Prerequisite Conceptual Understanding (PCU)/Before the Classroom Discussion

This case study presupposes an understanding of the concept of communication and consumer behavior. This would enable an effective discussion leading to an appreciation of the use of traditional advertising media as well as mobile media. The participants were asked to read the following chapter to help them better connect with the concepts:

  • • Leon G. Schiffman, et al., “Communication and Consumer Behavior”, Consumer Behavior, 10th Edition, Pearson Education, Inc., 2010: To focus on how radio and mobile technologies can be used to create brand awareness


The participants/students should be asked to view the following social media videos about the Kan Khajura Tesan campaigns:

  • • Lowe Asia Pacific, “Lowe Lintas India - Hindustan Unilever Ltd: Kan Khajura Station”,, May 22nd 2014
  • • DigitalMarketAsia, “PHD India’s Kan Khajura Tesan for HUL”,, June 17th 2014


Case Positioning and Setting

This case study is positioned for discussing how companies can make innovative use of mass media as well as mobile media to reach their target audience. Ideally suited for “Communication and Consumer Behavior” chapter of Consumer Behavior course, this case study can be used in MBA and Executive MBA programs.

Assignment Questions

  • I. What prevented HUL from reaching out effectively to its consumers in the rural areas of states such as Bihar and Jharkhand? What measures were initiated by the company to address the issue? What game plan did HUL devise to reach out to its potential consumers in these areas effectively?
  • II. How did the KKT campaign help HUL overcome the barriers of inadequate infrastructure and reach out to its target consumers in the rural areas of states of Bihar and Jharkhand? Could it be attributed to the fact that facets of the campaign were in sync with the culture or lifestyle of the target consumers? Were there any long-term benefits that resulted beyond the company getting access to its potential consumers?
  • III. .................


Preamble to the Case Study Analysis

This case study introduces the students/participants to an innovative and focused marketing communication with target, yet unserved, consumers. While the case facts present the entire canvass of Kan Khajura Tesan’s communication campaign along with its direct business results and the acquired accolades for HUL’s communication initiative, there is a deeper scope to connect the dots between Kan Khajura Tesan’s campaign and some facets of consumer communication. This case study, accordingly, may be orchestrated in the way suggested in Exhibit (TN)-I to unravel the veiled potential of such campaigns. Exhibit (TN)-II portrays the promotional route adopted by HUL...............

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Product code: CB-1-0018, CB-1-0018A


This case study aims to illustrate the importance of innovative consumer communication strategies. This is a case of turning an adversity into an advantage. Hindustan Unilever Limited (HUL), India's largest fast moving consumer goods company, set a world record with India's first free and on-demand entertainment mobile radio channel Kan Khajura Tesan (KKT) for receiving the maximum number of missed calls (72 lakh) in 120 hours. KKT has been named the best marketing campaign in the world according to the annual WARC 100 rankings. In October 2013, HUL launched Kan Khajura Tesan (KKT) - this implied earworm station in English - a free and on-demand entertainment radio mobile channel in Bihar. To enjoy the service, a user had to give a missed call to a certain number. A few seconds later, he/she would be called back and could listen to 18 minutes of Bollywood music, jokes, dialogues and radio jockey talk, peppered with HUL products' advertisements. The response was overwhelming from the target audience, resulting in HUL expanding KKT's coverage to several other states. Furthermore, the number of subscribers to the service reached more than 11 million by December 2014. This was besides the spontaneous awareness of the Ponds White Beauty brand, the Close Up brand and the Wheel brand increasing by 56%, 39% and 20%, respectively. However, would the preference for local language-entertainment content in the Southern states hamper further expansion plans of KKT?

Pedagogical Objectives

  • To examine how companies can reach their consumers despite infrastructural bottlenecks and despite limited coverage of traditional media
  • To understand how mobile phones can be effectively used as a communication channel with consumers
  • To discuss how companies can effectively engage with their target consumers by catering to their latent requirements
  • To understand how companies can employ entertainment content to reach out to their consumers and also promote their products

This Case Pack Includes:
- Abstract
- Case Study
- Teaching Note (**ONLY for Academicians)
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