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HUL’s homecare brand Domex has launched the toilet war in India – here’s how


By Amit Bapna, Editor-at-large

July 27, 2021 | 5 min read

With the evolving concerns on health and hygiene, brands in the post-pandemic world are rushing to grab a slice of the pie. The Drum finds out from Prabha Narasimhan, executive director and vice-president – home care (South Asia), Hindustan Unilever Ltd, the flagship home hygiene player Domex’s brand marketing plans to find increased relevance in a hitherto low-engagement category such as toilet cleaning.


Domex Fresh Guard toilet cleaner claims to prove its ‘99.9% germ-kill formula’ through ISO-certified lab attestations

The toilet cleaner category is in for some action of the marketing variety, as Domex, the disinfection and home-cleaner brand, takes the open combat route to educate consumers about the category players. Domex, part of Hindustan Unilever Limited (HUL), India’s largest fast-moving consumer goods company, has been around since its India launch in 1997.

To start with, Domex has unveiled a new campaign recently calling out assertions by its competition – in this case, claims made by the leader brand Reckit’s Harpic on toilet cleaning. Harpic in India has been the largest player, occupying a sizable chunk of the category, with Domex trailing behind.

Brand campaign

The brand has launched a campaign in many languages, including Hindi and Tamil, in a classic ‘homemaker and kid at a retail outlet ambience’ narrative. While the Hindi version features well-known TV star Divyanka Tripathi, the Tamil version has the famous film actor Revathy. The campaign has been conceptualized by Lowe Lintas India.

Hindi version

Tamil version

The category evolution

“For a long time consumers have been choosing a toilet cleaner as a force of habit without tending to question the right ingredients and technological aspects before choosing the product,” says Prabha Narasimhan, executive director and vice-president – home care (South Asia), Hindustan Unilever Ltd, in an exclusive chat with The Drum.

With the pandemic and the resultant awareness, hygiene and sanitation have become a top priority and consumers are becoming more aware of the options available, she adds. Home care as a category has seen a considerable uptick over the last few months, and brands are increasingly looking at ways to make the most of this emerging trend.

Domex’s reinvention journey amid emerging consumer concerns

Domex, part of the HUL portfolio for several decades, has also began that journey in a post-pandemic world. As per the company, it has just launched Domex Fresh Guard disinfectant toilet cleaner, which “is inspired by leaves and petals that don’t allow water to settle on them” and claims to prove its “99.9% germ-kill formula” through ISO-certified lab attestations.

With the new campaign, Domex aims to challenge the generic consumer purchase habits toward toilet cleaners and help them to make informed choices based on scientific facts. The sole purpose of the campaign, shares Narasimhan, “is to nudge consumers from a place of complacency and dormancy to a place of understanding and better decision-making.”

With the environment having undergone functional and structural changes during the last year, it is time to get the toilet cleaning category out of its dormant stage, she adds.

Challenging the category narrative

Interestingly, the creative route that the HUL-owned brand has taken to break the dormancy of the category and talk about its USP in a low-engagement category has been a combative one – by openly calling out the claim of the competitor brand. This is much like the cola wars of yore, when they used to play the one-upmanship game and in the process made the category a buzzing one for many years.

Narasimhan elaborates that “comparative advertising in the commercial is simply to highlight the differentiating element to illustrate the brand’s game-changing innovation”. The focus is as much on the efficacy of the product as it is on the consumers and their needs, both of which are integral to each other, she adds.

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