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Clean sweep

Canadians spend more than $2 billion annually on household products. Let’s take a closer look at the opportunity

It is hard to believe right now, but warmer weather really is just around the corner! For consumers, this means it’s time to break out the brooms and cleaning products and get ready for spring. Cleaning can feel like a thankless job, but there’s a wide array of cleaning products to freshen homes as the season changes, ranging from standard cleaners to eco-friendly and organic products, to fit consumer preferences. And turning over a cleaner leaf is no small affair: consumers in Canada spent nearly $2.3 billion on household products alone in the last year (and that’s not including paper products such as paper towels).

Across the variety of products in the household product arena, it should come as little surprise that laundry products are top sales drivers, with three different product variants appearing in the top 10 selling household products. Laundry detergents led sales in the household product category with $653 million in sales in the last year, with fabric softeners at $243 million and laundry care accompaniments at nearly $79 million.

But clothes aren’t the only thing consumers are keeping clean. Household cleaners have annual sales in excess of $172 million and boasted the largest dollar volume increase over the past year (+4%) among the top 10. Along with household cleaners, laundry detergents (+3%), laundry care accompaniments (+3%) and dishwashing products (+3%) led product growth by dollar sales.

Growth, however, isn’t evident across all products. Sales of bathroom cleaners, for example, have remained flat (0%) over the past year. For marketers, distinguishing the benefits of bathroom-specific cleaners over standard household cleaners may help expand sales in the category. So what factors are affecting sales? As we’ve seen across the store, consumers are growing increasingly conscious about their health and the environment when it comes to product selection, and household cleaning products are no exception. In fact, 49% of consumers say environmentally-friendly packaging is important to them when purchasing a household cleaning product, along with 43% who indicate organic/natural ingredients are important and 41% who desire packaging made from recycled materials.

As consumers weigh the benefits of going green with product effectiveness, they’re also minding their wallets. Notably, 69% of consumers say they perceive organic cleaning supplies to be more expensive, and only 20% say they’re willing to pay more for green/eco-friendly choices. To help offset consumer perceptions and raise product awareness, marketers and retailers can develop in-store signage and marketing campaigns that demonstrate green/eco- friendly effectiveness.

Additionally, concerns about product efficacy may be holding consumers back, with 29% of consumers indicating that eco-friendly options are not as effective as regular products. As well, 31% of consumers have purchased eco-friendly products but say they prefer regular products, and some consumers (20%) prefer to make their own cleaning products. But all hope is not lost: 38% of consumers still prefer to purchase eco-friendly products and 15% are willing to sacrifice effectiveness for an eco-friendly option.

And, of course, there are other factors that are influencing consumer purchase decisions that retailers and manufacturers should take note of. One-quarter of consumers, for instance, are influenced by their family and friends, while 19% are swayed by packaging claims and 17% are motivated by store signage, brochures and displays.

With the overall household product category seeing increased sales of 2% in the last year, cleaning is still top of mind for consumers, even as recent consumer confidence research highlights that many consumers (52%) have changed their spending to decrease household expenses. In the fiercely competitive fast-moving consumer goods market, successful retailers and manufacturers may benefit from marketing campaigns that distinguish their products’ benefits from the competition.

This article appeared in Canadian Grocer’s February 2019 issue.

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