The coronavirus pandemic has changed the way consumers buy products and therefore, the way marketers create products to satisfy consumer needs. It’s spawned product extensions in both the hygiene and immunity zones — and most products, during a bid relevant within the context of the pandemic, have made room for themselves in one among these two buckets.
But interestingly, a third zone, apparently at the intersection of hygiene and immunity, seems to have developed. Sample these examples: we spotted the claim for ‘immunity boosting’ on a Lifebuoy sanitiser (turns out, the range existed during a pre pandemic world) and recently, Dabur launched a soap which is known as ‘Sanitise’ (which bears a resemblance to Dettol’s soap, both in its form and odour).
We live in interesting times when consumers are deeply worried about both boosting their system also as keeping their surroundings clean. Has this led to a brand new ‘third’ space, created at the intersection of hygiene and immunity?
Traditionally, the ‘immunity’ space in India has been largely defined by consumable items like chyawanprash (a space Dabur has strong equity in) and vitamin based edibles.
By contrast, the hygiene space has been dominated by the likes of soap, floor cleaners, hand sanitisers, and other care products that promise to stay surfaces germ free.
But Dabur’s crossover into the sanitising space and lifebuoy’s immunity claim have given us food for thought. Will the market belong to products that successfully stake claim to both hygiene and immunity related properties?
Gauri Chaudhari, co-founder at Brand Innerworld (former consultant, Draft FCB and Piramal Healthcare), expresses her views by commenting that the word hygiene isn’t synonymous with immunity.
“Hygiene is about not letting germs enter the body, and immunity is about fighting and winning over germs once they enter the body. To develop immunity against a specific virus or bacteria, it must enter our body naturally or artificially (a sort of vaccine).”
Chaudhari says there’s ample evidence within the world of science to point out that generally speaking, ‘too much of hygiene’ can actually impact immunity adversely. So, during this sense, hygiene, and immunity could be antonyms of every other.
She says, adding that it is vital to draw a line between immunity and hygiene space, “Corona may be a new virus. We might not have inbuilt immunity against it. We will keep ourselves safe during this pandemic by not letting the virus enter our body (hand hygiene, masks, and social distancing) and simultaneously building the body’s system (just in case the virus enters the body). But equating hygiene to immunity is misleading.”
Chaudhari elucidates that if marketers don’t do so, the claims may simply boomerang — as trust may be a brand’s most vital asset, especially in these uncertain times.