Image: ShutterstockWhat happens when two big germ killers—entrenched for decades in the homes and minds of consumers—suddenly find two more from their FMCG fraternity trying to flaunt their equally potent killer instincts? Well, it’s time for a bitter antispectic fight—Emami and Marico are taking on Dettol and Lifebuoy with their respective hand sanitiser brands, BoroPlus and Mediker. Though the Covid-19 pandemic has proved to be the trigger for a slew of companies from diverse backgrounds to enter into the booming hand sanitiser market—from liquor makers to sachet innovator CavinKare—BoroPlus and Mediker have an edge over others, reckon marketing experts. Both brands have a pedigree of health and care embedded in in their perceived DNA. “Both have a strong antiseptic history, one in the cream segment (Boroplus) and the other in the hair care segment,” says N Chandramouli, chief executive officer of Mumbai-based marketing and branding agency TRA Research. The current Covid-19 crisis opens up a new path for them into a segment that’s been ruled by Dettol and Lifebouy, he adds. Sanitisers, interestingly, might open up horizons for the new entrants, Chandramouli explains. If the brands manage to create a mark in sanitisers, they can extend product lines to soaps, liquid handwash and the like. In fact, they may both have an advantage over the reigning brands, because they will have a broader palette to paint on, considering that one is a very popular skincare product and the other equally popular in haircare, he adds. Consumers could favour the new products, as brand fatigue with the older ones would have set in due to predictability, says IIM Ahmedabad marketing professor Abraham Koshy. Secondly, BoroPlus and Mediker are no spring chickens. These two brands also enjoy start-up equity, recall and reputation values. Entering the hand sanitiser market provides both these brands strategic opportunities to broaden appeal. The brands’ "protection" claim becomes more relevant when consumers are seriously concerned about Covid-19. “With the arrival of two new players, the anitiseptic market, otherwise staid and boring, has become more active,” avers Koshy. Can Dettol and Lifebuoy fend off the challenge? Well, the fight will only heat up further. Till then, keep washing your hands and wait for the big boys to strike back.