Spruce up your cleaning offering to reflect the latest trends and you can be sure to mop up missed sales. Matt Chittock offers some pointers

According to IRI, the household cleaning market is worth £598m, and growing 5.8% a year. So whether your core customers are house-proud hausfraus seeking big-name brands, or detergent-dodging students looking for good deals, the category could offer the perfect opportunity for you to clean up.

Procter & Gamble (P&G) head of trade communications Paul Lettice says that the cleaning category is a great way to boost till ring among customers. “The average homecare shopper spends £39.60 a week in convenience versus the average c-store shopper who spends only £18.36 each week,” he says.

Top tips

Customers tend to shop for household products by rooms in their home, so divide the fixture into areas of the home and keep similar formats together within those areas 
Stock essential cleaning tools such as cloths and sponges next to the items they will be used with, for example, put bleach and bath cleaners together on the fixture 
Washing-up liquid and bleach are among the biggest sellers so retailers should make sure these items are given the most space to ensure availability and avoid out of stocks. Double-face key brands to provide shelf standout and help customers find what they are looking for 
When it comes to the household category, shoppers prefer brands and are willing to pay a higher price for the items that they need immediately. Brands will also help to signpost the most commonly looked for categories 
Place heavy and bulky items at the bottom of the fixture where the shelf is deepest. 

Source: Partners for Growth

So what can retailers do to ensure pristine profits? Lettice explains that it’s all down to making sure that key products are available all the time. “Research has shown time and again how consumers consider availability to be the most important factor when it comes to c-store shopping,” he asserts.

“Consumers can be very brand loyal and will expect to find what they’re looking for as they come into your store particularly when huge amounts are being invested in advertising household favourites.”

Of course, since the days when the first American soap operas tempted housewives with new products in between the drama, the cleaning category has always been about heavily advertised big brands.

According to Mintel, the four major players who manufacture those famous brands now divide up the UK market between them. Unilever accounts for 15% of sales, SC Johnson 14%, P&G 13%, and Reckitt Benckiser 11%.

Mintel says that performance is the most important factor influencing consumers’ home- cleaning purchases, which they rely on the big brands to deliver.

Even though in a cleaning survey from Mintel, half of interviewees said that own-label products offer good value for money, a quarter of clean-conscious consumers were reluctant to sacrifice performance for cheaper prices.

Still, the recession has made consumers look hard at their weekly outgoings, and today the big brands have to work more than ever to retain their market share.

Joanne Mathers is a brand marketing controller at SCA. As a representative for Plenty, the UK’s number one household towel, she’s aware of the challenges brands face.

“Essentially, the recession has polarised the market,” she says. “While it’s understandable that consumers look to make savings where they can, it’s essential that brands show their value positioning and deliver benefits they want in conjunction with a fair price.

“We believe that this is one of the key reasons why Plenty sales have not been negatively affected during the recession.”

Mathers advises retailers to include at least one branded product and one own-label product for each cleaning category to signpost the fixture.

Kerry Miller, sales director at Reckitt Benckiser, which makes Dettol and Cillit Bang, agrees that brands help shoppers navigate the store. “Limited space means that there is limitation on what can be stocked so it is important that convenience retailers can offer their customers the market-leading brands and the appropriate market coverage that won’t compromise their category growth potential.”

Retailer’s view

“The cleaning category really works as an impulse area. People come to us when they run out of washing powder or bleach. 
“Supermarkets do offer deep discounts on cleaning products, but we give them a run for their money. We open longer, for instance, and feature our own regular discounts on cleaning products. For example, we recently featured Lenor for £1. We also do well with stocking pricemarked packs. 
“Best-selling products in the category are probably washing-up liquid and bleach, since people are more likely to pop out and get smaller items if they’re having a spring clean. My advice to get the most out of the category is to stock best-selling lines with a branded product and an own-brand. That way you can target the people who want the big brands, as well as people who prefer a value buy.” 

Julie Sharpe, Spar Sleaford, Lincolnshire

Mintel adds that with the big brands in the cleaning category already established, suppliers are concentrating on innovation and premiumisation to boost market share often based around new scents. Manufacturers are drawing together the benefits of their most popular products to add value as well as nose-appeal. For example, P&G is relaunching its Bold2in1 Infusions range to include new premium fragrances from Lenor.

Fairy, the UK’s number one hand-dishwashing brand, is also supercharging its scents, with a new trio of fragrances including tangerine & ginger flower, green apple & lime blossom and pomegranate & honeysuckle. 

Flushed with success 

According to Mintel, a quarter of adults now live in a two-bathroom household, and this number is slowly increasing. This trend is predicted to drive demand for toilet cleaning products, which means the smallest room in the house could be a big earner for c-stores. To meet demand, Unilever has expanded its Domestos range to encompass a ‘total toilet cleaning system’. The brand is spending £7.5m to promote the new products, which include gels, rim blocks, limescale remover and the classic bleach. Meanwhile, Cif currently the fastest growing brand in the £191m powercreams category has relaunched its range to include a fresh ‘Active Shield’ formulation, which promises to build up a protective barrier over bathroom surfaces

Read more:
Laundry: Awash with innovation
Household and laundry : Ones to watch