Unilever is launching a premium detergent range that it claims brings fragrance to the skin-kind laundry market for the first time.

The debut of Persil Naturals, which will be backed by a £11.7m marketing push, will be the company's biggest laundry launch this year in terms of spend and "significance to the market", claimed brand manager Kathryn Fordham.

The range, which includes liquid concentrate, powder and capsule formats, will sit alongside Comfort Naturals, the fabric conditioner range introduced last September.

Since launch, the sister brand has clocked up sales of £8m, according to IRI data [MAT 13 June 2009].

Other non-bios have been seen to compromise on fragrance, according to Unilever. But the Naturals range has 'infused natural extracts' in the form of olive blossom and aloe vera variants.

"A massive trend has emerged in the premium market," said Fordham. "The two biggest drivers are fragrance and skincare but there has previously been nothing available that offers both. There is a clear demand for such a product. None of our competitors has British Skin Foundation accreditation but our Persil Non Bio, Comfort Pure and Comfort Naturals ranges do."

Persil Naturals comes with a premium price tag - an 18-wash liquid concentrate bottle is priced £3.91, while a 26-wash powder pack is £6.65 and a nine-wash capsules pack £2.99.

Although the prices are in line with the current Persil range, the new variants come in smaller pack sizes to encourage people to trade up, Fordham said.

"Consumers are willing to pay more for gentle skin variants that have natural ingredients," she said. "We are heroing the liquid concentrate as it drives retailers' sustainability agenda."

The marketing push kicks off next month with television advertising followed by press, outdoor, sampling and online activity.

The range is rolling out in Tesco now ahead of a wider launch in the next few weeks. The existing Persil with Aloe Vera variant will be phased out over the next few weeks to make room for the new products.