CLEANING PRODUCTS – Spring Cleaning sales shine brightly – Comment from The Wholesale Manager

chazSpring 2011 promises cleaning products’ brightest sales for years. And with a high proportion of cleaning products bought as distress purchases in local neighborhood stores, that’s great news for delivered wholesalers and cash ‘n’ carries who offer their retail customers an extensive household cleaning range.

First there’s the traditional British spring cleaning frenzy – as the gloomy winter days draw to a close, it just takes a few minutes’ sunshine to send Brits rushing for cloths and buckets and going on a cleaning spree. Second, cleaning products are enjoying increased demand thanks to the spending squeeze. According to Mintel, the trend to stay in and entertain at home is making consumers do more cleaning up before guests arrive, great news all round for sales of cleaning products.

But the big bonus this April is the double bubble of the Easter weekend and the Royal Wedding, creating a second festive fortnight with people entertaining family and friends over a sustained period, like in December. With the sun out, the dust will be much easier to see than in winter so for consumers, staying stocked with cleaning products will be crucial. And if the local shop’s got the goods, they will get the sale.

Here are some figures. The UK household cleaning products market grew 20% over 2005-10 to £610 million. Sales are thriving, thanks to high levels of innovation and promotional activity. All-purpose cleaners have fared well as consumers seeking better value for money switched to multi-task products, spending an estimated £230 million in 2010.  And specialist cleaning products took on a new lease of life as cash-strapped consumers tackled tricky cleaning jobs like carpets, ovens and blocked drains themselves rather than calling in outside help. This segment grew to £59 million in 2010, up 16% on 2009.

According to Mintel, four companies account for over half of UK cleaning product sales: Reckitt Benckiser (11%), Unilever (15%), SC Johnson (14%), and Procter & Gamble (13%). They all increased market share over 2008-10, again thanks largely to NPD and marketing support.

With over 13 million women working, this limits their time for household chores, so even though tasks are shared around the family, there is a tendency to spend less time cleaning and do it in shorter bursts. This is driving demand for more effective products that help take the elbow grease out of cleaning.

There is a tendency for consumers of both sexes to keep on top of the cleaning, rather than do one big clean; almost half (47%) clean up as they go along. The most important factors influencing choice of cleaning products are performance (44%), promotions (33%), low prices (32%) and brand (25%). But consumers are reluctant to sacrifice performance for cheaper prices.

Over 75% of UK adults really care about their house being clean, and many even derive satisfaction from doing housework. This bodes well for household cleaning products.  And even better, Mintel forecasts 20% market growth over 2010-15, fuelled by 1.9 million more homes than in 2010, and more people living in houses with two or more bathrooms, driving demand for bathroom and toilet cleaners.