The economic downturn has probably done the household cleaning sector a bit of a favour. More people are entertaining at home, which means more people are making an effort to ensure that their home is clean when guests arrive.
According to Mintel, the market for household cleaning products grew by 20% between 2005 and 2010 to reach £610m. The research company says all-purpose cleaners have done well as consumers have sought out better value-for-money products.
However, sales of specialist cleaning products have taken on a new lease of life as cash-strapped consumers tackle more tricky cleaning jobs themselves such as carpets and ovens rather than calling in outside help.
The most important factors that influence consumer choice of cleaning products are performance (44%), promotions (33%), low prices (32%) and brand (25%). But Mintel reports that consumers are apparently reluctant to sacrifice performance for cheaper prices.
Paul Lettice, head of trade communications at Procter & Gamble (P&G), explains: "Shoppers look to brands they know and trust for reliability and longevity and that provide true value for money. While budgets are tight, their basic needs have not changed and they are not prepared to take chances on ’unknown’ brands.
"The average household category shopper visits their local convenience store four times a week and spends £9.03 per trip (Him Convenience Tracking Programme). The average c-store shopper only spends £5.31 per trip and visits 3.3 times per week, which is why range clarity, availability and good display are key to maximising sales for retailers."
Both P&G and Unilever have category management advice programmes that encompass household and laundry products. Retailer Mr Sommers of Manor Garage in Wiveliscombe, Taunton utilised Unilever’s Partners for Growth. He says: "We have very limited space in store but Partners for Growth really helped us organise and get the greatest potential from our shelf space. Beforehand, we just piled our household products on the shelves without much thought.
Now with the use of the Partners for Growth planogram, we are stocking the best sellers and the display is more eye-catching for our customers.
"The advice has really helped our sales and I would highly recommend it to other retailers."
The Partners for Growth advice is quite straightforward, but it works. It includes the following:
Make products easy to find help shoppers find the fixture by using clear signage and merchandising. Remember, if a product is not visible, shoppers will think it’s not available.
Divide products into areas of the home. Customers tend to shop for household products by rooms in their home so retailers are advised to divide the fixture into areas of the home and keep similar formats together within those areas. For bathrooms bleach, toilet blocks and cleaners and bathroom cleaners are recommended.
For kitchens: multi-purpose cleaners liquid, trigger, wipes and creams; machine dishwash and hand dishwash products. For specialist cleaning: sink and plughole unblocker, carpet cleaner and disinfectant are recommended; and for general cleaning air fresheners and furniture polish.
Give more space to the best sellers. Washing-up liquid and bleach are among the biggest sellers so retailers should make sure they get the most space to ensure availability and avoid out-of-stocks. To provide shelf standout and help customers find what they are looking for, you can double-face key brands.
Branded products attract shoppers. When it comes to household, shoppers prefer brands and are willing to pay a higher price for items they need at short notice. Brands also help signpost the most commonly looked for categories.
Place the bulk at the bottom. Put large bulky packs at the bottom of the fixture where the shelf is deepest.
Merchandise for a bigger spend. Put cleaning tools like cloths and sponges next to the items they will be used with, for example, bleach or bath cleaner.
Tony Berry, Symonds Forecourts, Gloucester:
"We allocate minimal space to household lines as they are not our biggest sellers, so we have a one-metre bay with six shelves. We stock the big names such as Ariel, Fairy Liquid, Comfort, Lenor, Flash, Domestos bleach as well as the Londis own brand. At the moment we have seven offers across the category including an Andrex four-pack which is pricemarked at £1.99 but which we are selling at £1.79, and Thirst Pockets at half price."
New Cillit Bang active foam is a mousse that ’clings’ to vertical surfaces penetrating and dissolving soap scum and dirt for a ’brilliantly clean’ finish. It has a specially designed wide-spray nozzle that allows quick and easy cleaning of large surfaces such as baths and showers. The launch is supported by a TV campaign which begins this month.
Lenor is being relaunched this autumn. This includes the addition of four new scents to the Infusions range passion jasmine scent fusion; citrus & spice scent fusion; pearl & moonflower; and amethyst & floral bouquet. Brand owner Procter & Gamble has employed Sex and the City stylist Patricia Field as Lenor’s brand ambassador.
Mr Sheen Express Mist is a new trigger spray that delivers a fine mist which is light enough to not need buffing. It can be used on wood as well as on modern surfaces including laminates and glass. It comes in spring meadow and original variants, with a recommended retail price of £1.99. To coincide with the launch, the existing Mr Sheen range has been given a new look for better shelf stand out and clearer communication of the products’ benefits.
The Persil range now includes Persil 2in1 with Comfort, which comes in two variants: passion flower and sunshiny days. Brand owner Unilever says it offers ’the brilliant cleaning performance of Persil with the softness and delicate fragrance of Comfort’.
New Fairy Platinum washing up liquid is said to offer the ’degreasing power of an overnight soak’ in just 10 minutes. At the same time, Platinum dishwashing tablets are being relaunched with ’significant formula and packaging upgrades’. Brand owner Procter & Gamble is describing the activity as its ’first-ever megabrand initiative’. Support will include TV, print and digital advertising.
According to Unilever, 76 bottles of Domestos are sold every minute. The brand was boosted earlier in the year by the launch of a ’total toilet cleaning system’ range which comprises: total blast toilet gel; germ blaster rim blocks; zero limescale remover; and 24-hour bleach. The company says £2.7m-worth of the products have been sold since launch.