When Mrs.Clean Drops Mr.Clean

By Tom Branna, Editorial Director | April 5, 2011

Back in the 1970s, after a tough day in the third grade (if you had Mrs. Swillinger you’d know what I mean) I would come home to the familiar scene of my mother doing laundry, ironing clothes, washing the floor—her list of chores was endless. And, like painting a bridge, as soon as she completed everything on her to-do list, she’d start all over again. In fact, as my sisters and I got older, we’d often joke that my mom’s favorite fine fragrance was Eau de Lysol. She took a lot of pride in the appearance of her home, and kept a closet well stocked with a variety of brand name cleaning products. That’s changed a bit over the past few years. Mom stopped using Lysol when she couldn’t find the concentrated formula in area grocery stores and started buying other store brand cleaning products, noting that they’re very similar and are often manufactured by the national brands anyway.

Marketers can talk all they want about private label being unable to make inroads into the household cleaning segment. But when Shirley Branna is opting for ShopRite all-purpose cleaner over Pine-Sol, I know that there’s been a seismic shift in the category, and there must be legions of consumers just like her who are choosing no-name bleach over Clorox in an attempt to save a buck.

Executives throughout the industry insist that all it will take to get consumers to buy national brands again is innovation. Yet, they’re neglecting the fact that when innovative products finally do roll out, folks might decide that clean enough is plenty good enough for them—especially with oil and food prices on the rise. And that begs the question, when will the category recover? Industry executives search for the answer on p. 54 in this issue.

New is always the buzzword when it comes to fine fragrance, and April marks the start of the all-important Mother’s Day selling season. It’s a time of optimism for the industry, which posted a sales gain last year for the first time since 2006. Melissa Meisel provides a detailed look at the latest in fine fragrance on p. 77.

Also this month, Christine Esposito reports on what’s taking place in the ethnic hair and skin care business (p. 65). Here, gentle and natural are the buzzwords as formulators roll out new relaxers and skin treatments.

We hope you enjoy this edition of Happi, as always we welcome your comments and suggestions.

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