Jennifer White Boehm is the Director of Beauty, Personal Care and Household Research for Mintel Reports US.
New Mintel research on household surface cleaners spotlights how key issues like sustainability, holistic health, the pandemic, and inflation are affecting the industry. And, while we know that around half of Americas clean their home on a regular basis, these key issues are creating new challenges and opportunities for brands:
Changes in cleaning habits mean fewer products needed
Consumers continue to gravitate to disinfectants and all-purpose cleaners for general cleaning applications and functionality. This aligns with consumers’ most desired surface cleaning attributes: cleaning power, multi-purpose functionality, and anti-bacterial/antiviral attributes. All-purpose/multi-purpose hard surface cleaners cater to consumers seeking added convenience by enabling users to clean multiple surfaces with just one product – saving time and money while cleaning. However, the waning propensity to deep clean (thus eschewing specialized cleaners) combined with the strength of multi-purpose cleaners (perpetuating cannibalization within the category) challenges the category. Blurring the lines between surface cleaners, disinfectants, and air fresheners, for example, is forward-thinking innovation as it relates to convenience, multi-purpose cleaning, and functional claims, but it also lessens the need for a larger repertoire of products.
Brand switching as a money-saving strategy
Essential goods like household surface cleaners are usually resistant to economic volatility, as usage of these products is need-based. Yet, supply chain constraints and inflation have contributed to rising prices of basic staples including household surface cleaners. Leading category players such as P&G have all announced price increases to offset the higher cost of goods. Higher household expenses provide the impetus for consumers to trade down to less expensive brands or rely on multi-purpose cleaners in an attempt to buy fewer products. This behavior is especially prevalent among younger adults who may have less disposable income and aren’t as brand loyal.
Linking home cleaning to positive health attributes
Home hygiene is important to the majority of adults and maintaining a regular cleaning routine is key to having a healthy home. Linking home cleaning to positive health attributes is an important connection for marketers to emphasize. Nearly 40% of adults agree that cleaning helps them relax/put their minds at ease – and young adults and parents over-index on this sentiment. Tying the act of home cleaning to positive emotions can encourage more frequent cleaning. Makers and marketers can integrate botanicals, fragrances, and essential oils into household surface cleaners to help reinforce key emotional connections to cleaning (eg stress relief, relaxation, calmness). In fact, nearly half of category users are interested in product innovations that smell like their favorite fragrances.
Sustainability is a given, health is a plus
In a post-pandemic world, consumers expect brands to enable convenient cleaning to maintain a healthy household – but do so in a way that does not damage the environment. Ethical and environmental claims are the most widely used in household surface cleaner product launches and eco-friendly innovation does attract a large constituency of category users; brands must not solely rely on eco-friendly positioning as it has become expected. Health claims provide a good opportunity to support sustainability while also freshening product and brand narratives. For example, nearly a third of category users are interested in household cleaning products with immune-supporting ingredients.
Director of Beauty, Personal Care and Household Research, Mintel Reports US, Jennifer White Boehm, comments: “Consumers are consistent in their cleaning routine and category engagement, which results in habit-based purchasing – and little movement in household surface cleaner sales from year to year. Brands that can deliver a balance between sustainability and germ management, while creating a more enjoyable cleaning experience, will find the most success. Forward-thinking innovators in the category are developing formulas that emphasize safety and wellbeing with skincare or food ingredients, catering to consumer interest in functional wellness and self-care.”
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