Products with added power have become the driving force in the household cleaning category.

Research by Mintel suggests UK shoppers have the most enthusiastic attitudes towards cleaning in Europe. Add the interest generated in the category through TV programmes such as How clean is your house? and it’s clear that although the household shelves may not be everyone’s idea of the most exciting section of a c-store, they certainly hold a great deal of potential profit.

Manufacturers are constantly adding new lines or extensions to create products that double up in function or complete the job quicker. So perhaps it’s time to dust down what can become a neglected area and earn your fair share of an estimated £2.5bn industry (AC Nielsen).

To make sure you get the most from this growing category you have to make sure you stock the right products. Customers are often left confused at cleaning fixtures because of the huge variety of products on offer.

There are some lines that just have to be stocked, such as washing powder, bleach and washing-up liquid, but what else do customers expect a c-store to cover? The answer seems to be a careful selection of impulse and distress purchase products on top of the best-sellers to ensure repeat custom from shoppers who know they can rely on their local store just when they need it.

Nisaway category controller Stewart Waldie says retailers should take care not to overstretch the range.

“It’s best for retailers to focus on three main homecare areas to generate healthy sales: all-purpose, kitchen cleaners and toilet care,” he says.

“They should provide a cleaning range which, excluding dish cleaners and laundry, gives about 28% space to bleaches and disinfectants, 23% to triggers, 18% to toilet cleaners and rim blocks, and 9% to both multi-surface cleaners and wipes.”

Waldie also believes it’s worth testing the ground with eye-catching new products, pointing to the success of Reckitt Benckiser’s Cillit Bang trigger spray cleaner. “Despite the more traditional buying habits of convenience customers, retailers shouldn’t be afraid to introduce the latest technology when it’s given the right advertising support,” he says.

“If a cleaning product is being advertised on TV, then I’d urge retailers to stock it. It’s unbelievable quite how well Cillit Bang has taken off. It’s affected every part of the household cleaning business and other heavyweights in the sector have been quick to follow up with their own multi-purpose and power trigger products.”

Procter & Gamble trade marketing manager Paul Lettice echoes the importance of providing the right mix. “Best-sellers in the laundry category include detergents which are huge in value and will draw customers to your store and drive sales of related products such as fabric conditioners,” he stresses.

“Washing-up liquids, surface cleaners and air fresheners are huge in homecare and will also drive sales of related products such as kitchen cleaners.”

He adds: “It’s vital that retailers keep reviewing their product offer and stock the best-sellers. Customers are often looking to buy laundry and homecare products to top up on their weekly shopping. Some 30% of brands within the category will account for 70% of sales so it’s essential to dedicate 70% of your space to best-sellers.”

One area retailers can’t fail to include is the new power cleaners, which have become the focus for many manufacturers in recent months. Unilever has extended its Cif range to include Cif Power Cream spray and Cif multi-surface power spray with bleach.
power tools
Clean ’n Fresh trade marketing manager Rowena Howell believes retailers can benefit from this growing interest in power. “The most significant new product design recently has been in the power cleaning section with the introduction of power sprays such as Cillit Bang, Cif Power Cream and Mr Muscle multi-task,” says Howell.

“Clean ’n Fresh will also look to introduce power cleaning npd in a value form for the convenience sector in 2006.”

Howell believes shoppers are becoming more willing to pay for premium price products and adds: “We’re likely to see companies build on the success of these new power cleaners over the next 12 months all the while shoppers remain happy to spend more on keeping their houses clean.”

1001 brand manager David Whittome believes that while customers are willing to spend across the category when trading up to power products, they also want products to fulfil a number of roles.

“With lifestyles becoming more demanding, household cleaning is a chore most people can do without,” says Whittome. “People want quick and easy solutions. The area continuing to show growth is multi-purpose products, with consumers increasingly looking for a single solution to add to their baskets. While this is the case in certain categories, the same cannot be applied to carpet cleaning and freshening, where specialist solutions are still considered very important.”

While the power side of cleaning has been a key growth driver, it’s vital shoppers do not feel they are being cheated by company claims, says Rebecca Wilson, brand development manager at Jeyes. “Shoppers want to see their lives made easier but products still have to be believable.”

When to comes to the laundry category it’s not a better wash that manufacturers are promising but a sweeter smelling one, as a main growth driver in the laundry category has been fragrance. This is evident with Unilever’s launch of Persil with Comfort and Surf tropical, and Procter & Gamble’s investment in its Daz Citrus Blast variant and the ‘Cleaner Close’ series of adverts which are now back on our TV screens.

Unilever homecare category director Chris Pote explains: “Consumers often associate good smells with cleanliness. Our most recent fragrance-led launches have been well received by consumers.”

Product manufacturers have also turned to nature for inspiration in new fragrances and there’s a link to natural fragrances across the spectrum in the household category. Jeyes recently launched Parozone 3-in-1 rim block in ‘Spring fresh’ or ‘rainburst’ variants.

And Clean ‘n Fresh has new variants such as pink, arctic blast and lavender in its toilet cleaning range.

Kaboom and OxiClean manufacturer Acdoco produces a number of products that general manager James Conway believes make suitable c-store lines as they’re products that are often needed in a cleaning emergency. “Smaller stores often benefit through additional trade-up or distress sales,” says Conway.

“A good example is our ‘Rescue It’ stain remover as it’s the kind of product people might suddenly need to rush out and buy from their local store. We understand retailers in small stores can’t carry hundreds of lines but they should concentrate on key products so that customers learn they can count on their local store to top up on certain items.”

Unilever’s Pote believes it’s an exciting time for household cleaning.

“Television shows and books have helped raise the sector’s profile and as a result we’re beginning to see consumers take more interest in how to clean.”

Another opportunity is the annual Spring clean - and Jeyes’ Rebecca Wilson believes the traditional tidy up is something that’s here to stay. She believes retailers need to act now if they are to make the most of the season.

“Spring is still an extremely popular time of year to spend more time on the cleaning,” she says. “There tend to be seasonal peaks around this time of year and also pre-Christmas, before the guests arrive. It’s vital retailers act now to take advantage.”

So with the winter evenings slowly getting lighter now could be the perfect time for retailers to have a clean sweep in time for the Spring blitz.

Procter & Gamble has introduced an experimental product to its Lenor brand. Lenor ‘in the pink’ has a mango and orange fragrance and is aimed at women. The launch has been backed by a £3.8m marketing spend from February including TV, print and radio advertising.

Unilever is adding a new bleach to its Domestos portfolio. Domestos 5X is made with a new ingredient, C-TAC. Unilever say this ensures the bleach sticks to toilet bowls after flushing, enabling it to continue killing germs for five times longer than other bleach or toilet cleaners.

The gold bottle is the same shape and size as a standard Domestos bottle and features an easy-hold grip. A £3m support package with a new execution of the ‘millions of germs will die’ campaign’ will launch in March. The 750ml bleach comes in an eye-catching six-bottle shelf-ready case.

1001 has developed a new carpet and upholstery product. No Vac is a fine foaming mousse which dissolves into fibres within five minutes to eliminate odours. The product can be used on wool as it contains no bleaching agents or aggressive solvents. No Vac is available in three fragrances and each pack offers consumers advice and tips through a special helpline.

Procter & Gamble has introduced Flash All-in-One multi-surface & glass spray. The trigger action spray, which is available in a 750ml bottle, also contains an anti-bacterial agent, ensuring hygiene on kitchen surfaces and shine on mirrors, table-tops and windows. The product has received marketing support including TV and print advertising totalling £2.5m.

Disinfectant brand Dettol has added a new range of household wipes to its portfolio. Dettol multi-action 4-in-1 wipes combine four cleaning actions in one disposable wipe. Dettol claims the wipes will kill 99.9% of harmful bacteria and remove visible dirt from both the kitchen and bathroom, removing the need for separate cleaners. The wipes are available in green apple or pink grapefruit scents.

Procter & Gamble is targeting mums by adding a new fabric softener to its non-bio brand, Fairy. The new softener is designed for delicate skin and has been awarded the British Allergy Foundation seal of approval. The softener is available in 750ml concentrate as well as 1-, 2- and 3ltr dilute bottles and will be supported by a £5m TV and marketing campaign.

IBA Bouchard has launched a range of anti-bacterial multi-task wipes. The wipes can be used for general cleaning in the house, office and car. The product contains natural orange oils to cut through grease and dirt. Each resealable pack contains 40 wipes.

Acdocco has modernised the look of its Kaboom bathroom cleaner and OxiClean stain remover ranges in an attempt to create greater shelf impact.

Kaboom bathroom cleaner now comes in a more vibrant purple and green packaging. OxiClean now has striking yellow livery and both the powder and trigger spray highlight new formulae.

Procter & Gamble has announced activity across its Bold 2in1, Ariel and Daz brands for 2006. Apple Blossom and Lime Zest is added to the Bold 2in1 range, backed by a £4.1m marketing plan.

The Ariel brand is set to benefit from P&G ‘making colour the theme’ in a series of TV and print adverts that focus on the Ariel Colour and Style powder launched at the end of 2005.

The company’s Daz brand receives support in the form of the latest series of soap opera-style TV adverts, ‘Cleaner Close’. The latest instalment, ‘Who Blasted Vince’, is now running, highlighting the citrus blast variant.

Unilever is launching a series of new products across its Cif range. Cif Power Cream Spray has two specific formats for the kitchen and bathroom and offers the popular cream in a more convenient format. Cif Active Gel is the first all-purpose gel in the category and contains baking soda for increased power. The purple coloured Cif Oxy-Gel Herbal Energy targets an increased interest in fragrance. The fourth Cif product hitting the shelves is Cif multi-purpose power cream with bleach. It also comes in the increasingly popular trigger format in two-by-six shelf-ready packaging.

Spontex has given its kitchen Wonder Cloth a makeover with silver packaging for greater shelf standout. The cloth is designed with microfibres to restore hobs and metal surfaces without the need for detergent. It can be machine washed and used wet or dry.

Former household favourite Vim has hit the shelves again after a 10-year absence.

A new look and lines have been created to modernise the brand that was originally launched at the beginning of the 20th century.

Acquired by Guaber in 2004, the classic Vim scouring powder is now joined by a new range including non-abrasive cream cleaners, stain repellent toilet cleaners and a fridge and microwave cleaner spray.

In addition, two ‘Super Vim’ products have been created. Super Vim degreaser spray cleans grease and oil from surfaces including clothing, while Super Vim Power Gel spray works on limescale, rust and grime.

TV and press advertising with the strapline ‘Don’t worry, Vim’s back’ is due to air later this year.

Highlight the fixture by using clear signage

Place cleaning tools such as cloths and sponges next to items they will be used with

Use popular brands to signpost the most commonly sought categories

Give more space to the best-sellers such as washing-up liquid and bleach

Divide products into the areas of the home they would be used

Place bulky packs such as washing powder at the bottom of the fixture

Source: Unilever Partners for Growth

Natural selection from Ecover
An increasing number of shoppers are switching on to the idea that they can do their bit for the environment.

Marketing manager at Ecover, Clare Allman, says retailers should be aware of the increasing popularity of environmentally friendly products. “Added value areas, including ecological products, are growing quicker than the overall growth,” says Allman. “Being ecological is no longer an alternative but is becoming mainstream. Ecover’s aim this year is to continue the drive of making sure a wide range of our products are widely available to retailers.

“We are continually seeing consumers making the conscious decision to buy Ecover. Our typical consumer is a 35- to 44-year-old woman with children, who recycles and possibly eats organically. While we want to continue to target this group, we also want to expand to the wider range of consumers and show it really is as simple as swapping your household products to do your bit for the environment.

"Often consumers start by using our washing-up liquid. This breaks down their preconceptions and increases their faith in the rest of the range.”

Top 10 selling household cleaners

1 Cillit Bang spray 750ml
2 Domestos bleach thick regular 750ml
3 Mr Muscle sink and plughole unblocker 500ml
4 Flash all-purpose spray with bleach
5 Dettox all-purpose anti-bacterial spray
6 Dettol disinfectant brown 750ml
7 Flash all-purpose liquid lemon 1ltr
8 Cif all-purpose cream lemon 500ml
9 Mr Muscle bathroom spray
10 Flash bathroom cleaner spray

Source: IRI sales analyser December 2005