This Mumbai-based Startup is Upping the Ante in the Personal Hygiene Game

Meet Entrepreneur Aditi Talwar Sodhi, Who Is Disrupting the Bathroom Freshener Category With India’s First Pre-toilet Spray

How this startup is turning toilet etiquettes on its head

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, travelling 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. 

Aditi Talwar Sodhi, Partner & Managing Director at Essentially Happy
Aditi Talwar Sodhi, Partner & Managing Director at Essentially Happy

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.

Watch here:

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 travellers – 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? 
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.


Thanks Aditi. All the best!