Will Indians spray used clothes instead of washing them? A look at ITC's new 'safai bina dhulai' product
‘The more the merrier’ seems to have become the catchphrase of India’s laundry segment. Detergents in powder, liquid and bar forms, fabric softeners and conditioners, stain removers, pods, bleaches, starches… There are a ton of products that you can use to wash and clean your clothes. Unfortunately, it’s not enough.
Due to the COVID pandemic, you need to take a step further and ‘sanitise’ yourself and the items you touch, in this case, wear. The virus can stick to your clothes and regular washing may not always help. So, various laundry brands have given their customers a new weapon in their fight against viruses and germs – fabric sanitisers.
Last year (2020), we (afaqs!) saw Reckitt Benckiser’s Dettol and Hindustan Unilever’s Lifebuoy introduce laundry sanitisers.
With Dettol, you can soak your clothes in a mixture of the sanitiser and water, and then hand wash it. Or, you can add it (the sanitiser) along with your detergent to the ‘softener’ compartment for machine wash.
In the case of Lifebuoy, you can either hand wash or machine wash your clothes with the solution, but only after the ‘regular’ wash.
This is just one part of the new laundry sanitiser segment, with ‘sprays’ being the other. Godrej launched fabric sanitisers under its Aer brand. As per its website, “This trigger-spray bottle keeps your curtains, bedsheets, pillows, towels, carpets, rugs and doormats protected from germs, and also keeps them smelling amazing.”
These offerings are proof of how much we’ve started focusing on sanitisation and cleanliness. We are more than willing to use a new product, or take an extra step in the laundry/wash cycle if it makes us feel that we’ve done enough to keep ourselves and our loved ones safe and healthy.
A few days ago, ITC Savlon came up with a new offering. One that will keep your clothes safe from virus, bacteria and odour-causing germs. And, guess what? There is no need to wash our clothes, which means one step less in the laundry/wash cycle.
The closest offering to this spray comes from South Korean electronics giant Samsung’s ‘AirDresser’, whose ad was released on its India YouTube channel in December 2020.
As per Samsung's website, it "uses powerful steam and air to dust off, deodorize, gently dry and sterilize clothes, and also smooth out wrinkles." It is priced at Rs 1.27 lakh.
The new ITC offering is called Clothes Disinfectant and Refreshing Spray; the 20-second spot, titled ‘Germs ki Safai, Bina Dhulai’, shows a woman (mother) simply spray on her son’s jacket.
The ad’s description says the spray kills virus and 99.99 per cent of germs like moulds, fungi and odour-causing bacteria on your clothes, and refreshes them.
Also, “It is gentle and safe on a wide range of clothes, like everyday wear (shirts, pants, kurta, leggings), clothes that are not frequently used (woollens, denims, coats, bedsheets, blankets), fabrics and soft surfaces that are not frequently washed (curtains, upholstery, sofas, couches), and clothes that get smelly (gym wear, vests, kitchen towels).”
While this new product comes with the equity of ITC Savlon’s germ kill and the reduced laundry cycle, we wonder if people will choose it, considering the multitude of products available on the shelf.
A whole host of sprays have been launched in the last few months, but the jury is still out on whether they will become meaningful to the consumer, says Jasravee Chandra, brand building, research and innovation, Master Sun, the consulting brand of Adiva L. (She has worked on brand Lifebuoy in the past during her advertising days.)
Chandra went on to remark that “it seems unlikely that the consumers will be willing to add an unconvincing spray to their laundry regime. Spraying does not come naturally to us. We are a scrub, swab and wipe culture. The spray seems wasteful and not very effective. Perhaps, also not so safe since particles and drops fly off in the air too.”
Neeraj Sharma, planning head, Rediffusion, tells us that the Coronavirus has made a certain set of people extra cautious and the other set extra careless. Of course, all the sprays and disinfectants are for the first set and they are lapping it up.
“While for a few, this could be too much, for many, it is a valid product. Smartly, they have shown the jacket and not a T-shirt – a clothing piece which is not known for everyday washing.”
Speaking about the ‘… Bina Dhulai’ aspect of the ad, it reminds yours truly of those perfume/deodorants that say, ‘Spray me, don’t bathe’. After all, you have to wash your clothes one day…
Says Sharma, “‘… Bina Dhulai’ part is not saying don’t wash your clothes. But it is saying that if you are not washing, then at least disinfect…”
Chandra also talks about deodorants and says that the only kind of sprays we have adopted in the last couple of decades are perfumes and deodorants. “ITC has positioned the product as a deodorant for clothes, as an additional ritual, a hygiene-enhancer for clothes not frequently washed.”
The spray may be relevant for clothes like jeans, winter wear, sari, jackets only, which are not washed regularly. One could also use the spray as a substitute for washing when one is travelling, or during overcrowded family events like a wedding, Chandra adds.
“ITC has positioned Savlon Clothes Disinfectant as a niche product. The key question to ask is whether the positioning will resonate with the consumers,” Chandra signs off.