Shreyas Kulkarni

Dettol’s laundry sanitiser ad arrives at a time when the segment is more cluttered than clean

The ad touts the sanitiser, but makes mention of a man challenging his wife’s laundry process. It is a bit strange when one assumes that couples were sharing the laundry load since last year’s COVID-induced lockdowns.

As hygiene awareness increased due to the Coronavirus pandemic in 2020, so did the number of laundry products aimed to give your clothes that extra dose of protection from bacteria and viruses.

Revenue in India's laundry care segment amounts to US$4,455m in 2021 says Statista. There are several detergent products available in both bar and liquid formats. There are fabric softeners and conditioners. You have the stain removers, starches, bleaches… it’s all too many to count sometimes.

While all these help you to keep your clothes clean, we (afaqs!) have observed a steadily growing product range of laundry sanitisers and sprays. These assure you protection against all-pervasive germs and bacteria, which spread to you from your clothes. The claim being made is that viruses can stick to your clothes and regular washing may not help. Thus, these ‘sanitising’ products in powder and spray formats.

Also Read: Now, a sanitiser for clothes and laundry too…

The earliest examples of laundry sanitisers came from Hindustan Unilever’s soap brand Lifebuoy and Reckitt Benkiser’s hygiene giant Dettol last year (Dettol's offering was available on Amazon India from 26 December 2019).

In tandem with the liquids are the sanitiser sprays. The main ones being ITC Savlon Clothes Disinfectant & Refreshing Spray, and Godrej’s fabric sanitisers under its Aer brand.

And then, there was the Samsung ‘AirDresser’. As per the brand's website, it "uses powerful steam and air to dust off, deodorise, gently dry and sterilise clothes, and also smooth out wrinkles." It is priced at Rs 1.27 lakh.

Today, we are looking at Dettol’s new ad for its laundry sanitiser. It's not every day that you associate Dettol with laundry. You associate it with health and hygiene.

Twenty seconds long, the ad says that it "protects your clothes from illness-causing germs... Just two capfuls of it after the detergent, and it’s done."

Dettol’s laundry sanitiser ad arrives at a time when the segment is more cluttered than clean

An image from the product’s Amazon India page talks about the three ways in which you can use it.

With all these products, the laundry segment has become quite cluttered. Yours truly wondered if people may end up not buying anything because of so many choices.

Gauri Chaudhari
Gauri Chaudhari

“The consumers are tired of COVID fatigue and can’t take it anymore. They are rejecting anything that’s outright scary to them. One more brand coming in and telling them, doesn’t help,” says Gauri Chaudhari, co-founder Brand Innerworld, a healthcare brand consultancy.

In the Dettol ad, three women (moms) are seen talking about their husbands, who say that freshly washed laundry can still have germs. One woman says, “I’ve dried the clothes under the sun.” “Where’s the surety,” her husband supposedly responds. And then we’re told ‘Dettol Laundry Sanitizer’ is the surety.

The brand should not be doing such an argumentative ad, and could have been more reassuring, “You’re doing everything right, and everything is good…,” instead of the negative theme of the husband saying you’re not doing enough, says Chaudhari.

Another interesting aspect of the ad we noticed was the women being the ones doing the laundry and talking about the laundry process. Post COVID-induced lockdowns, one would have assumed a couple would share the load the way P&G has been asking people to do for the last several years.

“At the end, when it comes to health, the woman of the house is in charge, not the man. Research after research says it’s the woman and her decision, her judgment, her information,” remarked Chaudhari.

She went on to reveal that it (her company) did research for a brand, where it asked men what vitamin supplements they take. And, half of them didn’t even know, and just said whatever their wives give to them after breakfast/before they leave for office.

“Brands have to do it more innovatively. Take care, Corona is there, doesn’t work. People know it and have lived through it for the past 12 months. Any more pushing, or question marks, or confrontational ads won’t work,” Chaudhari signs off.