The Miami-based company is the brainchild of Mike Eaton, a long-time marketing executive who worked on many Procter & Gamble brands during his career in brand and entertainment marketing, which included some sponsorship and licensing deals as well. But Eaton’s ties go even further, as his father worked at P&G for 37 years.
“I was around the business, mostly as a test rabbit for dozens of new products,” he recalled.
Those experiences led to a career where Eaton has launched and managed numerous brands for a diverse range of companies including Heinz Pet Food and Reebok, and now Hero Clean; which all begs the question, why Hero Clean?
“Guys are actually unbelievable cleaners, so long as they care about what they are cleaning,” Eaton insisted.
He pointed out that male-focused products are common in most store aisles; there are men’s shampoos, conditioners, gels, body lotions, candles and even Greek yogurt. But walk down the cleaning product aisle and there is nothing made for men, he asserted.
“The established brands might say they’re unisex, but if you look at the packaging, branding, marketing and fragrances, they tell a very different story,” Eaton explained.
Crunching the Data
That story, more like a tall tale, is that women buy all the cleaning products and do all the cleaning, but current data doesn’t support that notion. According to Eaton, between 2000 and 2010, the number of men living alone grew nearly 20%. Many studies predict those numbers will spike during the next 10 years, as people wait to get married or decide to never tie the knot. Eaton noted that the average marriage age is nearly 30, while the divorce rate is nearly 50% for first marriages and 65% for second marriages. As a result, the US Census Bureau estimates that there are between 40 and 50 million men living alone in the US, and that doesn’t include college students. These guys are buying cleaning products and they are definitely cleaning, Eaton insisted.
“Gen Xers and Millennials are a tidy bunch; they groom, they clean, they even cook—especially the ones living alone,” said Eaton. “Personally, I think it hasn’t been socially acceptable for guys to act like they care.”
But guys do care and they care about what they use to clean around the house. The Hero Clean lineup currently includes liquid laundry detergent, liquid dish soap, all-purpose spray cleaner and an all-important odor-eliminating spray. The juniper berry-based fragrance infused throughout the Hero Clean lineup is designed to appeal to a guy’s olfactive sensibilities too, and they’re all packaged in silver, industrial-looking packages that’s evoke images of motor oil rather than Oil of Olay. Even the dispensing mechanisms are aimed at guys, with larger-sized triggers and pumps.
Hero Clean’s primary audience is made up of single men ages 21-39, but of course, Eaton said he wants any man who cleans using his product. He also thinks that there’s a market for women to buy Hero Clean for the men in their lives.
The limited line should appeal to a guy’s sense of clean, too.
“Right now the household cleaning product category is complicated by too many cleaners,” insisted Eaton, who noted that there are products for cleaning every surface from metal and wood to stone and tile. The same goes for laundry detergent where so many brands have so many SKUs to choose from.
“We created a brand that guys can trust. We get how you clean; you like it, but don’t want to do it,” explained Eaton. “You want credit for cleaning without putting effort or thought into it.”
Guys don’t even have to put any effort into what or when they buy as initial sales have been heavily skewed toward product kits that contain one of every cleaner, as well as a subscription service where a new kit is delivered to a customer’s door every two or three months. Kits retail for $30 on the company’s website, hero-clean.com; individually, the all-purpose spray costs $4.79, the odor-eliminating spray is $7.99 and the ultra liquid soap is $5.55. The ultra detergent is available in two SKUs, 50oz for $8.49 and 100oz for $13.99.
Eaton predicts that the laundry detergent and odor-eliminating spray will be the big sellers because guys ultimately need to do laundry and they’ll appreciate the fragrance encapsulation technology that keeps releasing scent long after the initial application.
Where to Find It
The Hero Clean lineup has been available for about two months. The products debuted online at hero-clean.com and later moved on to Target.com. Most recently, just last month, Hero Clean debuted in select Target stores. Eaton is working with two other major retailers and hopes to have orders ready for Spring 2016.
To support the retail launch, Hero Clean has a robust marketing campaign that includes in-store POS; local, regional and national PR; street teams which hand out samples (primarily the odor-eliminating spray); and four 15-second TV spots.
The Hero Clean story is just beginning, but Eaton is ready to add more chapters, with line extensions that will include a candle (at Target’s request) and may include wipes and stain sticks. Further down the road, Hero Clean may add more traditional extensions such as dryer sheets, scent boosts and stain removers, predicted Eaton. Ultimately, the long-term goal is to become a brand that men can trust—whether it be laundry detergent, cleaning tools or even bath and body products.
“There are a few other cleaning-related categories that we are looking at, that we feel could use some male-skewed products—some really fun ones, actually; so stay tuned!”