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    Clean Slate

    Household cleaning products aim for market interest in convenience, natural ingredients and sensory appeal.

    By Lynn Petrak
    Many toilet cleaner brands, including Ty-D-Bol, now offer natural alternatives.

    The answer to how to deal with life?s messes is clean and simple ? and never more so than in today?s marketplace.

    Above all, household cleaning products have to be effective to stay on the retail shelf and in consumers? shopping carts and homes. Increasingly, there?s also the desire for simplicity when it comes to such items, both in ease of use and in the way those products are made and merchandised.

    The fact that things have become so complicated in many consumers? lives is the impetus behind the demand for something easier when it comes to the chore of cleaning. Because of consumers? time constraints and desire to get cleaning over with as quickly and successfully as possible, manufacturers have focused on convenience, multifunctionality and simple usage, with a variety of new and improved cleaning products.

    ?Consumers today are looking for more from manufacturers when it comes to cleaning. Between jobs, kids, activities and the speed of life, cleaning gets squeezed out of their day,? observes Priscilla Tuan, director of marketing at the Clorox Co., in Oakland. Calif.

    Shelley Cade, VP of marketing for Willert Home Products, in St. Louis, agrees that consumers are seeking solutions in household cleaners that help them do more or as much with less. ?People are basically looking for products that are effective, long-lasting and with superior performance. And, with the need for saving time, there are products that do more than one task,? she says.

    Also changing are the people doing the cleaning, notes Tuan. ?We are seeing demographic shifts in the makeup of households that are changing the way people clean. We used to talk about ?she,? and now it?s ?he or she.? Studies suggest men are cleaning more than they have 10 or 20 years ago. We need to design products for, and communicate to, both men and women,? she points out.

    Another demographic shift concerns the influx of multigenerational families. ?We used to define a household as the nuclear family. Now we find more families living intergenerationally than in the past ? millennials returning to the nest, or grandparents in the home. More people in the same space means a higher need for cleaning, as well as sharing of labor among more adults,? Tuan says. ?And the makeup of consumer households is increasingly diverse. Now the conversation has shifted to ?total market,? because America is now multicultural.?

    Although lifestyle changes and demands have evolved and impacted retail offerings, they haven?t affected the overall use of cleaning products. According to a report released last year by Chicago-based market research firm Mintel, the household surface cleaner category is a ?resilient? $5 billion market spanning all-purpose cleaners/disinfectants, toilet/tub/tile cleaners, specialized surface cleaners, household cleaner cloths, floor cleaners and furniture polish.

    For its part, Chicago-based market research firm IRI reports that sales of household cleaners topped $3 billion for the 52-week period ending Nov. 2, 2014. Within that general category, sales of all-purpose cleaners led the way, with a little more than $1 billion in sales, followed by toilet bowl cleaners/deodorizers, at $493 million, and nonabrasive tub/tile cleaners, at more than $407 million. IRI research also shows that sales of household cleaning cloths are approximately $625 million a year, up 5 percent from the year-ago period.

    Many Uses

    Within the category of household cleaning products, many new items reflect consumers? interests in effectiveness and simplicity.

    From a convenience standpoint, multifunctionality is a major feature of new products, beyond general all-purpose cleaners. One example is Clorox Toilet Wand, a disposable cleaning tool.

    ?With Clorox Toilet Wand, they can get right to toilet cleaning with no prep, without compromising their standard of clean, and then they get to throw the ?ick? away,? explains Tuan.

    Also making the daunting and not-so-fun chore of toilet cleaning easier is the new Scrubbing Bubbles Fresh Brush Starter Kit and Caddy, from Racine, Wis.-based SC Johnson. The system includes an easy-load tray for touchless dispensing and disposal, and flushable cleaning pads. And for those who truly want a hands-off approach to cleaning the can, there?s The Works automatic toilet bowl cleaner, from Concord, Ontario-based KIK Custom Products.

    Beyond the bathroom, multifunctionality and easy-disposal features are evident across all cleaning functions. The Brillo Sweep & Mop, from Walled Lake, Mich.-based Armaly Brands, for example, is a three-in-one mopping system for hard flooring surfaces, with disposable dry pads for dusting, wet pads for quick washing, and deep-cleaning pads. Clorox?s Liquid-Plumr line now includes a Double Impact Snake and Gel System, which features a 23-inch snake to unclog pipes, along with a gel to flush away the residual ?gunk.?

    Natural Progression

    Simplicity has another meaning in the household cleaning product category right now, namely in the ingredients used to make the items. San Francisco-based Method Products, for example, continues to expand its line of natural cleaning products, including newly introduced air fresheners featuring pressured-air technology instead of traditional aerosol delivery. Last summer, Method revealed that 75 percent of its naturally derived biodegradable product lines had been certified Gold by the Cradle to Cradle certification program.

    Willert, meanwhile, has introduced into the natural arena a new toilet bowl cleaner with an accompanying ?cleaner? label. ?The product is a plant-based cleaning product with nontoxic, noncorrosive ingredients that kills 99.9 percent of germs on a toilet,? says Cade, adding that the product will be officially unveiled in early 2015. ?Plant-based cleaners have been around for a few years, and we saw what was going on with green product lines and felt there is certainly a segment for that.?

    According to Cade, Willert is developing additional natural options. ?We are working on other items associated with odor control that fall into the natural product category. We want to be a company that gives you something to clean and help with odor control, with natural ingredients,? she remarks.

    Having likewise found growing interest among consumers for natural ingredients, Clorox has expanded its Green Works line of 15 natural cleaning products. ?A lot of consumers are interested in going more natural for their families and for the environment, but are worried they will be trading down on the clean they are getting,? says Tuan, noting that the Green Works line allows for impressive cleaning results as well as a natural profile.

    Cleaning accessories are also going au naturel, so to speak. The Scotch-Brite line, from St. Paul, Minn.-based 3M, has added new ?Greener Clean? nonscratch scrub sponges, heavy-duty scour pads and dish wands.

    The trends toward multifunctionality and natural have fused in some cases. SC Johnson?s venerable Pledge brand, for example, offers a multisurface cleaner that?s 99 percent natural, while the Mrs. Meyer?s Clean Day line of natural cleaning products includes items like automatic dish packs in such varieties as Lemon Verbena and Lavender, and multisurface cleaners spanning ingredients from Radish to Orange Clove.

    ?A lot of consumers are interested in going more natural for their families and for the environment, but are worried they will be trading down on the clean they are getting.?
    ?Priscilla Tuan, The Clorox Co.

    By Lynn Petrak
    • About Lynn Petrak

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