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

With growing concerns over hygiene and health, brands in the post pandemic world are racing to grab a piece. The Drum finds out from Prabha Narasimhan, executive director and vice-president – home care (South Asia), Hindustan Unilever Ltd, on 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, the disinfection- and home-cleaner brand, is taking action in the toilet cleaner category. 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 India was the largest player in the category, holding a significant portion of it, with Domex following closely.

Brand campaign

Hindi version

Version in Tamil

The evolution of categories

“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.

She adds that hygiene and sanitation are now a top priority due to the pandemic and the increased awareness. The category of home care has seen a significant increase in the last few months and brands are looking for ways to capitalize on this trend.

Domex’s reinvention journey amid emerging consumer concerns

Domex, a long-standing member of the HUL portfolio, has also begun that journey in a postpandemic 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.

Domex’s new campaign aims to challenge consumers’ general buying habits for toilet cleaners and encourage them to make informed decisions 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.”

She says that the environment has seen structural and functional changes in the last year. Now it is time for the toilet cleaning category to be revived.

The category narrative must be challenged

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 similar to the cola battles of old, when they played the one-upmanship games and made the category a popular one for many years.

The brand has launched a campaign in two languages – Hindi and Tamil – in a classic ‘homemaker and kid at a retail outlet ambience’ narrative. The Hindi version features TV star DivyankaTripathi, while the Tamil version features Revathy, a well-known film actor. Lowe Lintas India designed the campaign.

Narasimhan elaborates that “comparative advertising in the commercial is simply to highlight the differentiating element to illustrate the brand’s game-changing innovation”. She says that the emphasis is not on the product’s efficacy, but on the consumers and their requirements.