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Between The Sheets: A look at the dryer sheet category

By Christine Esposito, Associate Editor | January 25, 2016

How has the fabric softener sheet category fared of late?

Delivering scent, softness and anti-static, the dryer sheet has been a staple of the laundry room for decades. The technology is also touted for other home and lifestyle hacks—think killing winter static in one’s hair, deodorizing the kitchen trashcan or quelling the sounds of squeaky sneakers.
 
According to IRI data for the 52 weeks ended Nov. 1, 2015, sales of fabric softener sheets sold at multi-outlets rose 2.17%, In this sector, Procter & Gamble is the leading seller by far, accounting for a significant share of this $679.4 million market, with sales of $433.7 million (up 3.74%).
 
P&G’s hero brand in the category is Bounce, which was first introduced to consumers in 1973. Today, the Bounce stable includes the sheets that started it all as well popular boosters; Bounce Dryer Bars, which were rolled out in 2014, have since been discontinued.
 
Individual sheet SKUs within the Bounce franchise have fared differently of late. For example, sales of Bounce rose 2.62% and Bounce 4-in-1 sales rose 1.57%, Bounce Free and Sensitive fell 7.30% and Bounce with Febreze fell 17.42%.
 
Some competitors are having better luck than Bounce. According to IRI, sales of Snuggle fabric softener sheets rose 75.11% and All fabric softener sheets rose 68.17% to $4.7 million and $6.05 million, respectively. Both Snuggle and All are owned by Sun Products.
 
Scent is a primary driver in this laundry subsector. To that end, brands offer unique fragrances to entice shoppers. For example, Sun last year rolled out Snuggle dryer sheets in Island Hibiscus & Rainflower and Fresh Spring Flowers. 
 
“These new items have helped Snuggle become one of the fastest growing brands in the Conditioning category this year,” noted Ed Vlacich, president national brands and CMO at Sun Products.
 
Sun is currently the No. 3 player in fabric softener sheets, trailing private label. However the company’s dryer sheet sales rose 9.63%, while private label sales fell 6.43% during the same time.
 
Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day is also growing its presence in the category. Sales of the SC Johnson brand’s fabric softener sheets rose 32% to $2.76 million dollars during the 52-week period. They come in four of the brand’s best-loved scents (lemon verbena, basil, lavender and geranium) and are priced at $7.99 for a pack of 80 sheets.
 
But not every one is smitten with sheets. One self-proclaimed laundry fanatic, Patric Richardson, is among them. Richardson is the man behind the The Laundry Envangelist blog.
 
He told Happi, “I am not a fan of dryer sheets because I do not like the film that they leave on my clothes, I find it hard to wash away and it makes it more difficult for me to remove stains.”
 
Instead, Richardson uses a piece of aluminum foil crumpled up to the size of a baseball in my dryer.  “It attracts all the static in the dryer and leaves my clothes soft, clean, and static free.”
 
He may dispense that anti-dryer sheet advice at one of his upcoming “Clean Clothes & Dirty Martinis Laundry Camps,” which are held at Mona Williams, his upscale fashion consignment shop in Minneapolis. Two of the three scheduled this month were sold out at press time.

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