Household cleaning: It’s clean-up time
With convenience retailers preparing to stock up on household cleaning products for the coming of spring, wholesalers should stand by to profit with a mix of traditional bestsellers and eco-friendly options
February is traditionally the time when shoppers buy household cleaning products in convenience stores. Wholesalers need to get ready now, stocking a wide range so retail customers can find everything in one place. Inevitably, the cost of living crisis means cash-strapped consumers are likely to turn to traditional bestsellers for distress purchases in c-stores. Even so, younger and environmentally concerned shoppers of all ages will look for sustainable, green options.
Spring cleaning stats vary, depending on what you read, says Bio-D’s Sales Manager Lucy Sowerby, but between 50% and 90% of consumers do some sort of spring clean.
There’s more certainty about the size of the household cleaning category, says Matt Stanton, Head of Insight at DCS Group, whose sales and distribution division supplies grocery market brands to independent retailers. The total market is worth £794 million and £30m in impulse, according to Nielsen figures.
Sales have slipped from their pandemic peaks when fears over spreading infection triggered an unprecedented focus on cleaning and disinfecting, and product efficacy. But household cleaning shoppers remain valuable to c-stores, with an average £15.19 basket spend versus the channel average £7.04, says Lumina Intelligence’s Convenience Tracking Programme.
Stanton says the top-selling household cleaning sub-categories in convenience are toilet and bleach multipurpose cleaners, disinfectants, drain cleaners and unblockers, and window and glass cleaners.
Despite the crop of eco-friendly brands appealing to environmentally conscious buyers, many impulse sector shoppers still see the traditional leading brands as guaranteed to get the job done.
The cost of living crisis is impacting household cleaning purchases.
“During the pandemic, shoppers gravitated towards these leading products and sales grew,” says Stanton. “But as household bills continue rising, we’re seeing shoppers switch to tertiary and own-label alternatives.”
CLEANER OR KINDER?
Traditional cleaning chemicals are known to be toxic, caustic and damaging to the environment and as consumers aspire to lead healthier and more sustainable lifestyles, it’s boosting demand for earth-friendly homecare solutions.
Mintel’s report says 35% of consumers are buying more eco-friendly household care products than 12 months ago. And 70% of household care shoppers say brands should provide more proof of their eco-friendly claims. But DCS’s Stanton urges caution, citing Kantar Europanel’s Who Cares Who Does 2022 research, with 31% of shoppers saying they frequently choose household products with fewer harsh chemicals. He says the actual sales data implies that a lower proportion go ahead and purchase every time.
Given 18-24-year-olds’ higher-than-average spend in c-stores (£19.05 versus £15.19, according to Lumina) and the large proportion known to be interested in sustainability, it’s tempting to suppose Gen Zs are the biggest eco-friendly buyers. However, Bio-D’s Sowerby says their consumers don’t fall into age categories but are ‘eco enthusiasts’, invested in living sustainably with a sense of responsibility about their purchases.
“Historically, consumers doubted non-harmful cleaning chemicals could do the heavy lifting,” says Mark Jankovich, CEO at Delphis Eco.
“But growing numbers are demanding eco-friendly options and recognising these can work and do what they promise. In our research of 2,000 UK consumers, we found more than 6 out of 10 were more likely to make sustainable choices. Furthermore, they want to see companies who produce cleaning chemicals acting more sustainably, citing less toxicity and the use of recyclable packaging, less plastic, less waste and mobilising renewable energy as top of their wish list.”
TIME FOR CHANGE
It will be interesting to see how the traditional household cleaning brands react to the pressure to be sustainable. Domestos, a household cleaning icon for generations, is relaunching its core bleach range in bottles made with 50% post-consumer recycled plastic, set to save 1,505 tonnes of virgin plastic per year. With plastic waste the top environmental concern for British shoppers, Domestos is communicating the move with front-of-pack labelling.
The growing number of household cleaning suppliers offering eco-friendly alternatives include relative newcomers and long-established players. Bio-D’s biggest-selling lines are often its fragrance-free units, which are certified by Allergy UK says Sowerby, suggesting its customers’ purchasing habits are driven by skin sensitivity alongside increased environmental awareness.
On the other hand, Delphis Eco was founded to deliver a range of household cleaning products that do the job and are ‘extraordinarily powerful’, yet are plant-based, non-toxic and kind to the environment. Its packaging is 100% recycled plastic.
The Cheeky Panda offers household products made with 100% biodegradable bamboo fibres and plastic-free, as is its wrapping, secondary packaging and PoS.
Alex Winyard, The Cheeky Panda’s UK FMCG Sales Manager, says so far in 2022 the company has prevented more than 150,400kg of plastic entering the waste cycle, saved over 143,000 trees and balanced over 12,900 tonnes of carbon.
Bio-D’s washing-up liquid is currently its biggest seller. The range includes Lime & Aloe Vera Cleansing Hand Wash, Laundry Liquid and Washing Powder, and All Purpose Sanitiser Spray or Multi Surface Cleaner for the ‘everyday’ jobs.
CLEAN AND FRESH
Refills are trending in household cleaning. Delphis Eco has recently launched a range of two-litre refills across its portfolio, helping consumers save time and money and reducing household waste and recycling. Each refill can fill the Delphis Eco 700ml bottle up to six times.
The Cheeky Panda’s Anti-Bacterial Surface Wipes clean surfaces quickly and easily without sprays or other surface cleaners. There’s no need for frequent trips back to a sink to wash out cloths that can spread dirt and grime across multiple surfaces. The Cheeky Panda offers retailers a range of plastic free PoS, highlighting the benefits of switching to bamboo alternatives.
Zoflora boasts 24-hour fragrance credentials but is transitioning and expanding into a multi-format, multipurpose cleaning brand with the launch of its convenient Multipurpose Disinfectant Cleaner and Disinfectant Mist formats in 2021 and Biodegradable Antibacterial Cleaning Wipes, Power Bathroom Cleaner and Biodegradable Antibacterial Floor Wipes in 2022. It’s a long-established household fragrance business that Sarah Fozzard, the company’s Home Hygiene Hub Lead, says has been celebrating its centenary in 2022 with a national and regional TV campaign and a nationwide experiential tour.
As Mintel’s Richard Hopping stated in a recent blog, sustainability isn’t necessarily a new topic in the household care industry – prominent eco brand Ecover was founded in 1979 with the mission of creating phosphate-free cleaning products. However, in line with more recent, wider consumer behaviours and attitudes, it’s never been more relevant.
As the perceived threat to the environment grows, there is no doubt that people are taking far more responsibility for their decisions than they used to. This personal responsibility is encouraging people to make the best choices they can, even in what were traditionally low-engagement categories such as household care.
It’s understandable that many consumers are looking for ways to cut costs due to current economic pressures and compromising to save money. Even so, environmental factors and living sustainably are still high on shoppers’ agendas, so once the economy stabilises, many will likely switch back to more sustainable products. Meanwhile, alongside the traditional brands wholesalers should offer eco-friendly options that are active in advertising and social media and known to consumers. Get the mix right and you’ll clean up this spring and all year round.
DCS GROUP HEAD OF INSIGHT MATT STANTON’S TIPS TO MAXIMISE SALES
Wholesalers and retailers looking to take advantage of spring cleaning sales should stock up in January or early February.
Wholesalers should stock a full household cleaning range, reflecting their customers’ needs. Smaller retailers will only carry a small selection, but wholesalers need to cater for larger stores with the opportunity to provide an extended offering.
Spring cleaning is an important retail event, but the reality is that people clean their homes all year round. However, wholesalers and retailers should take advantage of the opportunity to drive sales as many brands offer promotions to line up with spring-clean events.
Help retailers make the most of their customers’ demand for eco-friendly options but give traditional cleaning products the prominence they deserve in your selection.
PMPs are important in household cleaning – 43% of consumers are more likely to shop in a c-store that sells price-marked packs and 63% say they think PMPs mean they’re not being overcharged.
FACTS & FIGURES
Wholesalers and retailers looking to take advantage of spring cleaning sales should stock up in January or early February [DCS]
31% of shoppers frequently choose household products with fewer harsh chemicals [Kantar Europanel Who Care Who Does 2020]
Many impulse sector shoppers still see the traditional leading brands as guaranteed to get the job done [DCS]
35% of household, health and beauty shoppers say they’re more likely to buy a product if it’s offered as a PMP [Lumina Intelligence Convenience Tracking Programme]
Spring cleaning stats vary but between 50% and 90% of consumers do some sort of spring clean [Bio-D]
DCS’S MUST-STOCK SKUS
- Dettol Surface Cleaner 750ml
- Dettol Antibacterial Cleansing Surface Wipes 30s
- Flash Bathroom spray 800ml
- Flash with Bleach spray 800ml
- Cif Ultrafast Kitchen spray 750ml £1.50 PMP
- Cif Cream Lemon 500ml £1.25 PMP
- Mr Sheen Multi-Surface Cleaner Spring 250ml
- Viakal Limescale Remover spray 500ml
- Mr Muscle Advanced Power Window Cleaner 750ml PMP £1.99