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On hearing the word “Dettol”, the first thing that undoubtedly comes into anyone’s mind would be its signature “Dettol-like” scent from its hygiene products or the memorable advertisements we have all grown up watching. 

Dettol products can be found in almost any household in India. Many of us have used or come across any of the brand’s products since they’re so widely available and easily accessible! 

Dettol has been consistently named one of the most trusted brands and has become a segment leader in hygiene brands despite the supply and operational challenges brought by the advent of COVID-19 and rising competition with other major hygiene brands in the Indian Market, with over 80% of market share of antiseptics in India.

But how did Dettol emerge as a brand we trust and are so familiar with? This article will explore how brand consistency and quality products factored in Dettol’s widely acclaimed success in the Indian Hygiene Market.

How it all started

The year was 1933. At that time, millions of mothers and children were falling prey to sepsis, a potentially life-threatening condition that occurs when the body’s response to an infection damages its tissues. So to bring down the patient’s exposure to bacteria and viruses and provide a disinfectant for medical supplies used to deliver babies, Dettol came into existence. 

At first, Dettol’s antiseptic liquid was introduced and tested in various hospitals and maternity care facilities. It got immense success. Within a few years, the incidence of puerperal sepsis fell by more than 50% in the places where the antiseptic liquid was introduced.

Soon after that, Dettol was launched in India when it rolled out of RB’s factory in England. 

At first, Reckitt, then known as Reckitt Benckiser, had decided to market with the name PCMX as the term was short form for parachlorometaxylenol. This aromatic compound gives Dettol its germ-fighting ability. However, the management chose to market the product with the name “Dettol” to reflect the product’s history and medical rigor. ​​

The logo came to represent the idea of “trusted protection,” with the gradient green and the white sword representing a combination of a sense of growth and success and emphasizing stability and trustworthiness.

It wasn’t very long until Dettol became a pioneer for household hygiene products in India. The handwash and antiseptic liquid made healthcare and well-being much more accessible for average Indian households than before. Eventually, as Dettol came up with soaps, plasters, disinfectants, and various such products, it gained prominence in the market along with its beautifully crafted advertising and branding strategy to appeal to Indian audiences from diverse backgrounds.

Today, Dettol saw its global sales surge 62%, with market share expanding 430 basis points in India as consumers stockpiled the product amid the coronavirus pandemic.

It sounds like a perfect brand success story, doesn’t it?

However, Dettol didn’t become a success story just by the quality of its products. What drove Dettol’s success in the Indian market and gave the brand a competitive edge is its unique yet modest marketing strategy and brand identity.

How did Dettol create its Unique Brand Persona?

To understand the success behind Dettol’s marketing and growth strategy a little better, it is essential to look into what is commonly referred to as “Brand Archetypes.” If you’re a psychology enthusiast, you might be aware of the idea behind archetypes and how they personify universal patterns of behavior we instinctively understand. The same applies to the way we perceive brands!

A brand archetype is a way of presenting a brand – its symbology, values, behaviors, messages – as a persona, thus making it more recognizable and relatable to target audiences.

Although we share a transactional relationship with brands, we tend to feel connected to some brands who’s message evokes a feeling of love, belongingness, innovation, or even pleasure. 

Brand archetypes are a tool most successful businesses have used to differentiate themselves from their competitors, give the brand a personality of its own, and create an authentic connection with their target audience. These brand archetypes and identities are communicated through visual and verbal communication with the target customers. 

Dettol created a unique brand identity that we deeply associate with and trust. Some of the brand’s taglines we know of and have heard often are “​​Help keep you and your family healthy, whatever their stage of life” and “Be 100% Sure.” Not only does the tone of marketing communication used by Dettol reflects surety in the products’ effectiveness, but it also promises safety, well-being, and belongingness to its customers. 

Dettol associates with the Everyman Brand Archetype. The core purpose of this archetype is to strive for connection, create a sense of belonging, and build trust between the brand and its target audience. People of all ages and backgrounds commonly use such brands. It is vital to deliver high-quality products that are consistent with the brand’s identity. Dettol strives to build a community and make the customers feel belonged and protected. 

Dettol, as a brand, aims to evoke many feelings among its customers using positive imageries and communication styles. From making them feel protected and secure about their wellness to guaranteeing high-quality products, Dettol builds a connection with its target audience while conveying how their products are the best available in the market. 

Bringing the Brand Philosophy to life: Dettol’s Advertising Strategy

So far, we know about what Dettol is, how did it become a success story, and what marketing philosophy does the brand abide by. But, is the work of a marketing strategy done here?

Absolutely not!

Once a brand’s philosophy, logos, and mantras are decided, the next and the most crucial step is to bring the brand identity to life. This includes implementing marketing and advertising strategies that amplify the core values a brand stands for and reach out to the target customers in the best possible way. Let’s take a look at how Dettol converted its brand philosophy into successful marketing strategies. 

Sustainable and Simple Advertisement Campaigns

On viewing a Dettol Ad, “innovative” and “out-of-the-box” are usually not the words one might think of. Unlike many other brands we know of, Dettol has a relatively modest and simplistic product advertisement strategy. Yet, its advertisement campaigns have been a significant success in disseminating the brand’s message and promoting its products. 

In its advertisements, Dettol focuses on creating awareness about healthy habits such as cleaning hands regularly and making an appeal for its products. For instance, take a look at one of Dettol’s famous advertisements, #MaaMaane, one of Dettol’s ad campaigns:

Creating an Appeal to families and people from all backgrounds

One of the features of Dettol’s products is that it doesn’t have a specific target audience to cater to, as consumers from all groups very commonly use hygiene brands. In particular, families are the most vital customers for a household brand such as Dettol. 

Now, a critical feature that you would notice in a Dettol ad is how it is centered around mothers, children, and keeping households and surroundings clean. This is how Dettol creates an appeal for its products to families and people of all age groups. 

By creating an emotional appeal to families, these advertisements evoke feelings of safety, well-being, and belongingness amongst the target audiences – some of the core brand values Dettol strives to show.

Delivering Consistency 

Remember we talked about how Dettol follows a modest and straightforward marketing strategy? This is one of the features that help Dettol deliver consistency with its advertisements and product quality.

While managing a brand, two things are essential:

  1. How consistent is the brand message and values
  2. If the brand’s statement aligns with the product’s quality and design

To build a dedicated and loyal audience, delivering consistency plays a key role. 

Dettol has been advertising in India since the 1960s. Starting with cinema advertisements, the brand had, later on, brought their advertisements to diverse platforms such as print and television. 

Over time, the style and communication of Dettol’s advertisements have changed, as have the advertisements of many other brands. However, the core message of Dettol remains the same: 100% protection and guaranteed safety. This is what builds a consistent image that eventually creates customer trust and loyalty. 

Some lessons from Dettol’s marketing and brand strategy

It is often thought that brands are mere tools used for differentiating products and businesses in a marketplace. However, the significance of a brand runs much deeper than fancy logos and powerful taglines. 

Take any brand: be it Apple, Nike, or Starbucks; we are drawn to these brands because they represent an idea that evokes positive emotions within us. Every successful brand has its persona, backed by its history, purpose, and promise. The same is true for Dettol.

A significant takeaway from Dettol’s strategy is to build a brand that connects with the customer on a deeper level and that has a persona and an authentic story. Because at the end of the day, we are more deeply impacted by the idea and aspiration a brand reflects rather than merely the outward look and appeal of its advertisements and brand communications.


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Anushka Raghava
Author

Anushka Raghava (she/her) is an undergraduate student majoring in Economics and Psychology from Delhi University. A huge fan of books, music, and iced coffee, Anushka loves to broaden her knowledge about various topics and to engage in discussions about issues that matter.

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