Meet Entrepreneur Aditi Talwar Sodhi, Who Is Disrupting the Bathroom Freshener Category With India’s First Pre-toilet Spray
Cramped living and working spaces with heavily shared toilets are a reality in India. The other reality is the increasing focus and spends on personal care and home care categories. Add to that the demand for natural, non-toxic and environmentally friendly products and the fact that Poo de cologne is an innovation that promises to turn on its head the way people deal with restroom odours, and we believe we have a winner.
The problem of leaving behind a smelly loo is an embarrassing one, be it a situation at home, or between friends, co-workers, traveling companions or honeymooners, no one wants to be identified as “the stinker upper.”
The current solutions on offer are aerosols but they don’t do a good job of masking the odours – in fact, they make the situation worse by adding synthetic fragrances to faecal odour, not to mention they are loaded with toxic chemicals. And whilst at first glance, they may seem lighter on the pocket what you actually end up paying for is a can full of gas with a bit of synthetic fragrance. Or the pods that smell great day one and then the fragrance fades off over the next few days, rendering it useless in the face of rough toilet smells.
This unsolved, niche but important, problem of stinky loos is what Poo de cologne aims to address with pure and natural ingredients that guarantee to mask completely, even the toughest of odours.
Essentially Happy Marketing was launched on January 26th, 2021. Their range is setting a new benchmark in washroom malodor solutions.
We are publishing an interview with Ms. Aditi Talwar Sodhi, Partner & Managing Director at Essentially Happy:
Q.: Please tell us something about yourself.
Ans: Before taking the entrepreneurial leap, and starting Essentially Happy Marketing, I have been a successful brand strategist, with over 20 years of experience in companies like Vodafone, Publicis and McCann where I worked on global, regional and local brands. I am a published author and scriptwriter. But most importantly it’s my love affair with fragrances has intoxicated me, enticed me and stimulated me all my life…it’s the one thing that makes me Essentially Happy.
Q.: Tell us a little more about the product development process and the initial consumer reactions.
Ans: Poo de cologne is India’s first pre-toilet spray. A pre-toilet spray is used ‘before’ toileting by spraying the product over the toilet bowl water. The formulation creates a barrier over the water’s surface trapping all the bad smells below while the essential oils fill the toilet with beautiful aromas.
With the best manufacturing, packaging and raw material partners, we have developed a formulation that has created a new benchmark in product quality and delivery for dealing with toilet odour. Our fragrances, made from proprietary blends of pure essential oils, have been developed to suit the Indian consumers’ preferences and we are priced to suit their pocket.
Poo de cologne is a product of a rigorous product development process, extensive consumer testing as well as packaging design and performance tests. Consumers have appreciated the innovation, the freshness and strength of the fragrances and most importantly the complete masking of bad odours – better than any other product currently available in the market, i.e. aerosols. We have a 10% return rate of happy customers with an average of 1.5 units on subsequent purchases.
Launched at Rs.555 for a 120 ml bottle Poo de cologne has found admirers equally in metros, Tier 1 as well as Tier 2 towns. We have some great reviews online where consumers have called us a
unique innovation that delivers on its promise, some have compared our fragrances to the essential oils experienced in spas, and one even said that Poo de cologne “saved my izzat” in a shared accommodation.
Q.: What is your USP?
Ans: Poo de cologne is an innovation for the Indian market. It is India’s first pre-toilet spray and is unique in many ways, primary being its usage “before” toileting.
– It is the only available preventive solution to bad washroom smells
– Our blends are proprietary and made from 100% pure essential oils
– We don’t use gas, toxic chemicals, synthetic fragrances and alcohol in our formulation – We guarantee 100% masking of bad odours when used as prescribed on the back of the pack
Millennials are a cohort of travel enthusiasts who are big on natural ingredients and are more willing to spend on hygiene than the earlier generations. With Poo de cologne we have delivered on these parameters and at Essentially Happy Marketing we intend to further leverage these and other trends by coming up with safe, natural and quality products at affordable prices.
Proudly made in India, Essentially Happy Marketing is geared to bring the best international concepts in personal care and hygiene to India with a focus on Indian sensibilities and preferences.
Indians, in general, are resistant to talk about toilet habits. However, in recent times, movies like Toilet Ek Prem Katha, Padman, the Academy Award-winning Netflix documentary ‘Period. End of Sentence,’ Bill Gates’ documentary on Netflix that focuses on sanitation in India as well as PM Modi’s Swatch Bharat Abhiyan movement against open defecation, that had superstars talk openly about toilet hygiene, have not only lifted this taboo but also brought the discussion to the forefront. With this shift in the overall environment and using humour to break the ice with our target audience, we have launched many funny and informative marketing campaigns to create awareness and interest.
Our latest campaign is a series of hilarious videos with popular stand-up comedian Atul Khatri, wherein he uses humour to introduce pre-toilet sprays to the audience.
Q.: What has been the one learning from the market that took you by surprise? What is your ideal consumer profile?
Ans: Before we launched Poo de cologne we believed that because it is a new concept with almost no awareness and is pitched at a price point higher than regular aerosols we will get sales more from metros and Tier 1 cities and thus our research and marketing was focused on these cities, however, we were pleasantly surprised by the demand from Tier 2 cities. This trend has encouraged us to extend our research to these towns to better understand customer usage and attitudes there.
Everyone poops:) so at a broader level everyone is our target. However, historically women have been known to be more conscious of their hygiene. Having said that, in recent years we have seen a shift in this trend as now men too are turning their gaze towards personal care and hygiene products. We have identified our audiences based on their lifestyle choices:
– Home proud – The woman/man who is the gatekeeper of the household hygiene standards and prides herself/himself on providing the best for the family. She/he is conscious of their social status and is becoming ever more aware of harmful chemicals in household products, and thus leaning towards more natural and safe products for the family. They would be between the age of 25 to 50 years of age.
– Frequent travelers – A younger audience who share the love for wanderlust and are frequent travels
– Office goers – who have to use shared office stalls on a daily basis
– People living in shared accommodations – migrant students and working population – At an institutional level we are looking at vacation rentals and co-working concepts, retail spaces like malls and cinemas, and the hospitality segment – hotels, restaurants and cafes.
Q.: What is your pricing model? And why?
Ans: Today’s generation is a lot more attracted towards innovations available within a price bracket as compared to the previous generations who were either price sensitive or very brand loyal. New drivers such as social impact, health and wellness, safety, and experience are emerging to the forefront.
There is no dearth of cheaper products in India. The race to the bottom is on. But for the quality conscious customer, there aren’t many options. We have made no compromises on the quality – sourcing the best quality essentials oils for our proprietary blends. The same philosophy extends to our packaging components as well, to offer our users the best product delivery experience. In a study by Deloitte, high quality material fares higher as a premium attribute for millennials and there is an overall understanding that natural/organic/pure ingredients cost more …as they do.
While there are no magic formulae to understanding the pulse of the elusive consumer – price, quality and brand image play a pivotal role in the success of a brand and we have tried to strike a balance.
We have achieved month on month sales growth as well as growth in repeat purchase ratio and thus have a product that is meeting demand at an acceptable overall price/value/image proposition and we are now ready to scale.
Q.: Please tell us about the investors.
Ans: Our startup is bootstrapped / self-funded.
Q.: What difficulties did you face while launching amidst the pandemic? Ans: Essentially Happy Marketing was established in December 2019 and before we could get our bearings we were hit by the pandemic and lockdown. When our componentry was ready to leave European shores, Europe was locked down and the container ship schedules were thrown out of whack, and as a result there were delays in supplies. When finally, the ships left for India, Maharashtra announced the lockdown – a simple process of 3 weeks took nearly 3 months to complete. And this is just one example, we have faced factory lockdowns, labour shortages and complete supply and delivery chain disruption before our product range could finally be launched amidst the pandemic. All this led to financial strains, yet we persevered and although delayed by a year Poo de cologne, India’s first pre-toilet spray, was launched in January of 2021.
Q.: Are you happy with where your business stands today in terms of value and sales? Ans: Consumer habits are difficult to change, and our biggest achievement has been that with minimum but smart advertising we have started to make a shift in the consumers’ behaviour by making them use a toilet freshener “BEFORE” the big job. While being the only preventive solution
to bad toilet odour is our biggest USP it is also the biggest challenge, as it means heavy investment in consumer education. So, we have a twofold marketing objective – consumer awareness and consumer education. Building a new category was never going to be easy, but we are satisfied with the results our efforts have reaped thus far.
Q.: What is the big picture of your startup?
Ans: Essentially Happy Marketing was established to bring the very best in personal hygiene and home care to the consumers in India. Inspired by an international concept of pre-toilet sprays, we have launched India’s first pre-toilet spray – Poo de cologne, Before U Do No.2 Toilet Spray. We will continue to craft differentiated first-to-market solutions, addressing relevant consumer needs, that are safe, devoid of toxins and affordable at the same time.
Q.: Who do you perceive as your competition? How do you differentiate yourself from them?
Ans: We have no direct competition as pre-toilet spray is a new category for India. But yes, all bathroom fresheners, in all formats, such as aerosol sprays, diffusers, pods, electric, automatic misting sprays etc. are competition as they are pitched as a solution for the same consumer issue. Our key differentiator is that we are the only preventive solution to the problem of nasty toilet odours and that Poo de cologne is a Before U Do No.2 Toilet Spray. Added to that is the fact that we use 100% pure essential oils as against synthetic allergy causing fragrance compounds used by competing products. Also, Poo de cologne product range is pure, in the sense that the formulation is not diluted with harmful gases and other fillers.
Q.: What would be your goal to accomplish in the next six months? Ans: We are doing good business online and within the next 6 months Poo de cologne will be available in speciality retail stores and pharmacy chains.
Q.: What message do you want to convey to fellow entrepreneurs? Ans: An idea is worth nothing without execution. So take action, and things will start happening all around you. A business is always in transition, impacted by external and internal factors, some that you can control and some that you can’t, so forever be ready to pivot and change strategy. Whatever vision you may have for it, the business will shape itself from within – be ready for that outcome.