Features

Green Easy

December 9, 2005

With sales stagnant, marketers are rolling out easy-to-use products that appeal to environmentally-conscious consumers.

Sales of household cleaners fell 2% during the past year, according to Information Resources, Inc. (IRI). With the exception of toilet bowl cleaners, most other categories have shown a steady decrease (See box, below). Yet, while many players in the segment struggle to find growth, Procter & Gamble continues to build share.

“P&G is the only company with real momentum. It’s a soft market for everyone else,” observed Ken Wasik, director of the consumer product group at Houlihan, Lokey, Howard & Zukin, an investment banking firm.

Some marketers are trying to attract a following by offering an “all natural” product, a cleaner that can do the job and do it well, without some of the chemicals found in more traditional cleaners.

Gemtek Products, for instance, manufactures a line of sustainable, bio-based cleaners, solvents, lubricants and specialty chemicals derived from soy, corn, palm, peanut, jojoba, linseed, safflower, sunflower, mustard and various nut oils such as walnut and almond.

“Gemtek’s plant-based AllerSafe Anti-Allergen products and Safe Care Laundry Solutions are a departure from the more traditional formulations because ours lack most of the offending, or arguably, toxic chemistries that are the active ingredients for those product lines,” said Kim Kristoff, president of Gemtek.

Other marketers are trying to attract that same “green” consumer. According to a spokesman for Knockout Holdings, Inc., the marketer of the new George Foreman’s Knock-Out line of household cleaning products, “Experts say nearly a quarter of a million household products cause indoor air pollution. Many homes even have chemical levels 70 times higher than the air outside. It’s believed these levels are mostly due to harsh chemicals in some cleaning products.”

Focusing on concerns of family, child and even pet health and safety, the George Foreman Knock-Out products appeal to a growing consumer base with claims such as: the first botanical disinfectant in the U.S.; pleasant aromatherapeutic vapors; no synthetic fragrances or dyes; plant-based and completely natural; non-toxic and free of bleach, ammonia, chlorine and butyl cellosolve which can cause breathing problems, skin and eye irritation, or allergic reactions.

The Knock-Out line includes Streak-Free Glass Cleaner, Disinfectant, Multi-Purpose Cleaner, Deep Stain Remover, and Grill Cleaner. Another touted bonus is the claim that Knock-Out products consolidate up to 20 regular household cleaning products and replace them with just five multi-use products to help families save money.

Orange-Mate, Inc. manufactures a line of all-natural air fresheners, glass, surface and all-purpose cleaners. They also insist consumers are looking for something different.

“Consumer trends reflect the rapidly growing de- mand for products that are naturally derived, and particularly those without chemicals or other artificially engineered ingredients that may pose health risks, cause cancer and are safe and ecologically sound,” said Sara Maudlin, a spokesman for the company. “More companies seem to be regulating themselves with regard to providing natural, chemical-free products. Sales of all-natural products are sky-rocketing; consumers are worried about the effects of ammonia and other fluorocarbons on their families and pets. Additionally, there seem to be more consumers with allergies to traditional cleaning products who are first and foremost worried about the health aspect; the effectiveness comes second.”

T-TreClean all-purpose cleaner is made from pure concentrated tea tree oil and enhanced with lemon.

The latest offering from Orange-Mate is T-TreClean all-purpose cleaner, made from pure concentrated tea tree oil and enhanced with lemon. It is touted as antibacterial, antifungal, free of harsh chemicals or artificial scents, and made of natural and plant-derived ingredients. Like Knock-Out, marketing of T-Tre and the company’s other products—Orange Maid Glass & Surface Cleaner and Lemon Maid Glass & Surface Cleaner—focuses on the product being a healthy alternative.

Reaching Hispanic Consumers
Marketers who are looking for a new consumer niche should consider the changing demographics in the U.S. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2001, Hispanics spent 43% more on soaps and detergents, and 16% more on cleansing and toilet tissues than the general U.S. population.

Erika Propser, director of Strategy for Garcia 360 Comunica explains how the growing Latino market in the U.S., as represented by the growing Latino family, can be a boon for chemical specialties marketers.

“It isn’t that Hispanics are just cleaner than the rest of the population,” said Ms. Propser. “The over consumption of such products lies in the culture. To Latino customers, cleanliness is an outward expression of values, status and respect for others. It is a sign that our homes and our persons are acceptable for interaction. Marketers rarely understand this link between the Latino psyche and, for instance, their choice in laundry care, but it exists.”

When asked what is most important in purchasing soap, most Hispanic consumers answered fragrance and lather. It mattered to them that they could see and smell the product working. Both manufacturers and marketers need to understand this connection to be able to position their products effectively among Latinos.

Ms. Propser advised considering these messaging guidelines when targeting home care products to Hispanics:

Show value. Hispanic families tend to be larger than the average American clan. While Hispanics will pay more for perceived quality, they also must cut back if a product is too expensive.
Don't overcomplicate it. The latest and greatest technology is not necessarily the hook for most Hispanic consumers if they cannot understand how to use it. When positioning a new and improved product, it’s just as important to promote ease of use.
Make sure it smells good. Fragrance is always key to any home care product. Hispanics associate fragrance with intended cleaning results. S.C. Johnson and P&G have added the favorite Hispanic scents of lavender and lemon to their product lines.

Household Product Sales Dip in 2004
Total sales of household cleaners in the U.S. (Supermarkets, Drugstores and Mass Merchandisers excluding Wal-Mart) declined in the year ending Feb. 20, 2005. With the exception of toilet bowl cleaners, the rest of the categories shown below experienced a steady decrease. Source: Information Resources, Inc.
Category $Sales % Change Unit Sales % Change
Abrasive tub/tile cleaner $102,567,600 -3.3% 75,301,500 -6.3%
All purpose cleaner/disinfectant $421,144,100 -1.4% 170,232,900 -1.4%
Chimney cleaner/soot remover $18,408 -13.0% 2,891 -13.8%
Drain cleaner $147,752,000 -3.5% 35,276,920 -5.0%
Glass cleaner/ammonia $184,828,000 -3.5% 75,931,250 -2.9%
Lime/rust remover $25,204,160 -1.4% 6,686,677 -4.3%
Nonabrasive tub/tile cleaner $25,204,160 -8.9% 81,123,300 -9.5%
Oven/appliance cleaner/degreaser $51,089,060 -3.6% 14,023,470 -6.0%
Specialty cleaner/polish $31,774,770 -2.1% 9,294,616 -4.9%
Spray disinfectant $83,647,740 -15.5% 23,328,170 -13.3%
Toilet bowl cleaner/deodorizer $311,468,400 10.4% 124,911,000 -2.4%
Total: $1,593,307,000 -2.1% 616,112,700 -4.4%

Connecting Consumers to Music
Regardless of their ethnicity, 94% of women say they listen to music while they clean and 59% of people say that listening to music makes the cleaning process go faster, according to P&G. With this in mind, P&G partnered with Warner Strategic Marketing to offer consumers three music selections to rejuvenate the 2005 Spring Cleaning experience.

The “Take the Bore Out of the Chore” initiative began in March and will continue through June. Consumers who purchase any two of P&G’s five home care brands can choose one of three compilation CDs (Fresh Clean Beats, Hip Hop: Uncluttered and Cool Clean Classics), featuring music from more than 30 artists from various music genres such as Aretha Franklin and Queen Latifah.

“We’ve been able to establish a connection between music and cleaning and the five home care brands have joined together to help bring this connection to life for consumers through the program,” said Aaron Eisel, brand manager. “Whether you're a fan of rock and roll classics or looking for something with a little soul, these CDs are sure to add some fun to your spring cleaning routine.”

This new form of product development strays from revamping a familiar household brand, instead opting to convince consumers to buy existing products to get the CDs and promote increased product use by encouraging purchasers to have fun cleaning, so that they clean longer and more often.

Cleaning as Easy as 1-2-3
Other companies may not rely on music to boost sales, but all march to the beat of the same drummer when it comes to making household cleaners easier to use. Shoppers are usually reluctant to pick up products that look too complicated to use or have too many components. In fact, according to a recent Soap and Detergent Association (SDA) National Cleaning Survey, nearly half of Americans never read laundry detergent directions.

There’s no doubt that consumers have less time to spend using traditional cleaning methods, and are looking for a quicker way to keep homes in good order. As a result, S.C. Johnson continues to launch products that reduce the mess, the stress and the time associated with cleaning the home. With new and improved Scrubby Pads, the Fresh Brush Toilet Cleaning System offers more scrubbing power and foaming action. Ease-of-use is advanced because it’s the only brush that is flushable. The Scrubby Pads quickly break up during flushing, so they are safe for plumbing and septic systems. Rather than dealing with a spray and paper towels, Fantastik Multi-Surface Wipes are an easier way to clean multiple surfaces from grease to glass. Once the wipe gets dirty or dries out, it can be discarded in the trash.

New Glade Wisp Home Fra-grancer automatically releases a measured puff of fragrance every few seconds. Wisp has a microchip that ensures a consistent release of fragrance, taking the thought and effort out of scenting a room. Battery operated and adjustable, it goes anywhere in any room and is suitable for freshening the kitchen, living room, bedroom, bathroom, hallway or office.

Glade PlugIns holder can be inserted into any wall outlet to provide up to 30 days of fresh fragrance. Each PlugIns contains a scented cartridge that gently begins to warm upon use. When the cartridge is used up, it’s replaced with a refill. The holders come in three convenient forms: Extra Outlet, Extra Outlet Night Light and Create-a-Scent. The new Create-a-Scent Fragrancer allows the user to customize her own fragrance by mixing and matching any two Glade PlugIns refills.

According to S.C. Johnson, Oust Bathroom Air Sanitizer is an extremely convenient way to eliminate bathroom odors. Like Oust Air Sanitizer, it contains a powerful formula that kills odor-causing bacteria, but it comes in a small, discreet dispenser that easily attaches to surfaces. It can be placed in out-of-the-way places, or wherever needed. With a couple of touches, the dispenser releases invisible bursts to help eliminate unpleasant bathroom, pet and mildew smells.

The new BathWand from Clorox makes it easy to clean toilet bowls.

The new Clorox BathWand disposable cleaning system is designed to make cleaning the tub easier.

“Cleaning the tub and shower is one of the most difficult, time consuming cleaning chores in the home,” said Laura Seejattan, Clorox marketing manager. “The Clorox BathWand makes the cleaning process easy its unique shape allows users to easily clean hard-to-reach areas.”

The Clorox BathWand has a 23-inch handle, the “optimal” length to provide the leverage needed to help scrub better, not harder, while allowing the user to easily reach large and hard-to-clean areas without bending or stretching. The disposable, ready-to-use cleaning pads, which attach securely to the swiveling head, can also be used on their own for sinks and fixtures. A BathWand “starter kit” has a suggested retail price of $9.99 and will be widely available this month. Disposable refills-sold in packages of five will be also be available for a suggested retail price of $2.99.

That higher price point underscores another initiative from marketers: While they’re determined to make cleaning easier, consumers must pay a premium for this convenience.

CSPA To Meet in Chicago Next Month
The Consumer Specialty Product Association (CSPA) will hold its Mid-Year Meeting and Innovention 2005 on May 3-6 at the Chicago Marriott Downtown. Innovention 2005, CSPA’s new forum for efficient and economical business meetings, will be devoted to promoting information exchange about new products, ingredients and services. It is set up to stimulate idea exchange and provide a learning opportunity for industry professionals. This special opportunity will kick off with a luncheon from 12:00 noon to 2:00 p.m. on Tuesday, followed by keynote speaker Sir Harold M. Evans, editorial director and vice chairman of US News and World Report, the NewYork Daily News and The Atlantic Monthly and former editor of the London Times and Sunday Times. He will contrast invention with innovation and their influence on the grand scheme of American society. Following the keynote address, the Innovention Center will be open to all from 2-5p.m. in the ballroom salon. The Innovention Center will feature:

A central lounge area for networking with peers and colleagues, catching up on current news via plasma-screen television, daily newspapers and Internet access;
An array of tabletop displays featuring the newest and most innovative products and services from member and nonmember companies;
A poster session with all seven divisions invited to participate, highlighting their companies' latest scientific and technical discoveries and techniques and
A series of “spotlight presentations” giving participating companies a chance to showcase their organizations' most innovative and ground-breaking new products and services.

The theme will continue throughout the meeting as the general session, division programs, and special sessions will emphasize the latest in out-of-the-box thinking and product development. More information: CSPA, (202) 872-8110; www.cspa.org.

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