Wiping the floor with chores

The household cleaning market keeps growing. Although prices aren’t rising, new product development – particularly of wipes – is driving increased sales

Household cleaning is certainly one of the least-liked chores for most of us, but that has not stemmed the growth of the cleaning products market. A recent survey by Taylor Nelson Sofres (TNS) Superpanel on household cleaning products says the sector has expanded by seven per cent since August 2001.

In the 12 months to August 2002, more than &£233m was spent on household cleaning products in the UK. Growth has largely been driven by new product developments and innovations in the market, with new products such as single-use, multi-purpose cleaning wipes having a significant impact. On average, consumers now buy a household cleaning product at least once every two months.

Procter & Gamble’s Flash remains the most popular cleaning product, with a market share of almost a quarter (23 per cent). Flash is followed by Unilever’s Cif (15 per cent) and SC Johnson’s Mr Muscle (ten per cent). However, since July 2000, the top-three brands have all lost market share to competitors such as Reckitt Benckiser’s Dettox and Unilever’s Domestos. Over a two-year period from July 2000 to July 2002, Dettox’s sales grew by 35 per cent and Domestos’ by 43 per cent.

While branded products account for 80 per cent of the household cleaning market, own-label brands are also popular, providing no-frills, basic cleaning products at an affordable price. The average price of a cleaning product from one of the top-five brands is &£1.32 – almost 40 per cent more than own-label products, which on average cost just 97p.

Also, while the price of cleaning products has remained relatively stable in recent years, big-name brands such as Flash and Domestos have actually become cheaper – from a high of &£1.35 for Flash and &£1.45 for Domestos in 2000, to &£1.21 and &£1.19 respectively in 2002. TNS Superpanel believes that this decrease may reflect an attempt to reduce the price gap between branded and own-label products, creating a more competitive market as a greater range of products becomes available.

Traditional cleaning products such as creams, sprays and liquids continue to be the most popular cleaners, particularly with the over-65s and lower-income households. However, the new cleaning wipes are becoming increasingly popular. They most commonly used by 27to 34-year-olds and are also popular with households with one or two children, where adults may have less time available to spend on cleaning.

Although the introduction of household cleaning wipes has resulted in small declines in the market shares of cream cleaners, powders and mousses, wipes are generally bought as part of a repertoire of cleaning products – about 70 per cent of buyers also buy liquids and sprays. As a quick and easy cleaning option, consumers are tending to use wipes in addition, rather than an alternative, to other cleaning products.

Since July 2000, Cif, Dettox, Windolene and Pledge have all introduced wipes and their popularity has soared. Wipes account for 17 per cent of the household cleaning market by value and sales grew by a whopping 188 per cent in the two years to July 2002. Flash remains the leading brand for cleaning wipes, but has experienced a significant decline in market share – from 76 per cent in the 12 months to July 2000, to 28 per cent in the 12 months to July 2002. Anti-bacterial wipes have shown a similar decline in market share (from 80 per cent share in 2000 to 47 per cent in 2002). Although Flash and Domestos were previously the two biggest players in the cleaning wipes market, the influx of new products has resulted in a significant loss of market share for both of these brands. For instance, early this year Jeyes extended toilet-cleaner brand Parazone into the out-of-home sector, launching Parazone Travel Wipes (MW April 18).

Manufacturers, then, have begun to recognise the need for choice and diversity in the market by introducing new and innovative products, which have proved very popular across the board. Time is at a premium for many people, because of increasingly demanding lifestyles, and so interest in products which are less labour-intensive and reduce cleaning times is high. We are likely to see more products entering this niche in the future.

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