Features

Cleaning Breakthroughs

November 24, 2009

Multinationals and smaller household cleaning companies have made big breakthroughs in product formulations that are more environmentally-friendly than ever.

Cleaning Breakthroughs



Multinationals and smaller household cleaning companies have made big breakthroughs in product formulations that are more environmentally-friendly than ever.


Tom Branna
Editorial Director



You’d think that with H1N1 virus in the news these days, marketers would be focused on the germ-killing capabilities of their household cleaning products. But the truth is, H1N1 like MRSA and SARS before it, is a relatively easy pathogen to kill—any disinfectant on the market already does the job. So while politicians and the medical community fret about the threat of a slightly more potent flu bug like H1N1, marketers large and small are focused on the big picture, which these days means rolling out environmentally friendly cleaners, dish detergents and even—drum roll please—disinfectants.

Seventh Generation’s natural disinfectant line of products.
Sales of green cleaning products are growing 30% a year and reached nearly $65 million in 2008, according to a study published by Mintel earlier this year. But by 2013, Mintel projects green cleaning sales will reach $623 million, rising from a 3% share in 2008 to a 30% share in 2013, due to the fact that 33% of U.S. consumers don’t want to bring harsh chemicals into their home. That’s light years ahead of the 2-3% growth that’s more typical of the U.S. household cleaning product category.

“It’s been our experience that access to and availability of green cleaners is a big driver,” noted John Murphy, senior vice president-sales, Seventh Gen- eration, Burlington, VT. “People want to make positive changes in their lives. Buying green cleaners is one way to do that and having them priced affordably has helped the category grow.”

Like Murphy, executives at Method Home, San Francisco, have noticed that more consumers and competitors are getting in on the green cleaning trend.

“We love that more companies are joining the fight against toxic and caustic products in the home by offering new solutions and educating consumers that environmentally-friendly products are an effective, healthy way to clean,” said Rachel Rosenblum, a company spokesperson. “This clearly serves as validation of the Method philosophies that we have been dedicated to since the inception of our company.”

Who are all these consumers interested in a greener clean? According to Seventh Generation, they’re the 25-30% of wellness-seeking green enthusiasts who aspire to greater levels of health and wellness in their lives. Often, these consumers are young families with children under five years of age.

Beauty and brawn. New Dawn Hand Renewal with Olay Beauty gets dishes clean and helps hands look great, according to Procter & Gamble.
“These families are open to new ways of thinking about what they use to clean their homes and the chemicals that they bring into their homes,” said Murphy.

New thinking about cleaning is even having an impact on how the housework gets divvied up. According to Carol Berning, a senior consultant at the Cincinnati Consulting Consortium, changing demographics, such as the rise of the single-person household, means that while less cleaning may be necessary, more men are tackling household chores.

“Both young and old couples tend to share household tasks more than they did in the past,” explained Berning. “Men gravitate to vacuuming and emptying the dishwasher.”

What does that mean for marketers of household cleaning products? Berning said companies must shape their advertising and marketing messages to avoid any connotation that housework performed by men is not masculine.

“More men have grown up in households where their mothers worked and chores were shared,” she said.

Regardless of who is doing the task, consumers today are relatively happy with the performance of their cleaning products. According to the University of Michigan’s American Cus- tomer Satisfaction Index (ACSI), consumer satisfaction with household cleaning products (and personal care products) continues at a record level, with an ACSI score of 85.

Clorox improved 1% to 88, tying its all-time high and making 2009 the 13th straight year the company has either led or tied for the industry lead. A total of 88% of Clorox products are the No. 1 or No. 2 sellers in their product categories and demand is increasing for Clorox disinfecting and cleaning products due to concerns about the H1N1 flu virus.

Clorox was followed closely by Unilever, unchanged at 87, with Procter & Gamble and Dial at 85 (unchanged) and 84 (-1%), respectively.

Customer satisfaction has been vol- atile for Colgate-Palmolive for the past several years, according to researchers. Its ACSI score rose 1% in 2006, fell 4% in 2007, and rose 7% in 2008. This year, Colgate dropped again, falling 5% to 83. The company was tied a year ago for the industry lead, but now finds itself at the bottom, well behind Clorox and Unilever.Both pricing and quality have contributed to the fall. Researchers say Colgate is stuck in a pattern of rolling out many products coupled with competitive pricing in one year, only to cut back on some products and increase price the next year.

Green Disinfection



While Colgate may be quiet this year in the household cleaning sector, Seventh Generation is getting set to make some noise with the planned January launch of three disinfecting formulas that are said to kill 99.99% of germs botanically. All three—multi-surface cleaner, bathroom cleaner and disinfecting wipes—are EPA-registered and contain thymol, a component of thyme oil, which has well-known disinfecting properties. Despite that notoriety, it took researchers 10 years to develop the right formula.


 
“Botanical chemistries are a different animal than synthetic chemistries,” explained Cara Bondi, a senior research scientist with Seventh Generation. “Working with botanicals there is variability, so you have to determine what ratio of botanicals works and find out how the actives will work with the inert ingredients. There are a lot of antimicrobial actives that, if not formulated correctly, will not work as well.”

Ultimately, to find the right formula, Seventh Generation teamed up with CleanWell, a small technology start-up based in San Francisco, which developed the thymol technology.

“We were excited to partner with CleanWell, since we share a similar philosophy,” explained Bondi.

That philosophy includes a rigorous ingredient selection process that looks at the human and environmental impact of all ingredients individually and in combination.

Moreover, Seventh Generation executives say they adhere to a higher standard for the ingredients they use than other companies in the industry.

“We would never use LAS because it’s derived from petroleum,” explained Martin Wolf, director of product sustainability and authenticity. Other familiar ingredients that will never make it on Seventh Generation’s list include APEs, phosphates, chlorine and sodium hypochlorite, according to Wolf.

That’s good news for Seventh Generation’s consumers who are label readers, according to Bondi.

“There hasn’t been a botanical option on the market. So our hope is that something EPA-registered conveys and speaks to the product efficacy,” said Bondi. “We’ve provided an alternative to a conventional disinfectant.”

Other companies offer environmentally-responsible cleaning options. One of them, Winning Brands, Barrie, Canada, is determined to use environmentally progressive chemistry to help solve environmental issues.

Responsible, Not Invisible



“We’re environmentally-responsible, not environmentally-invisible,” reasoned Eric Lehner, chief executive officer, noting that even the greenest formulas have an impact on the environment. “If you pour a glass of milk into a fishbowl, the fish wouldn’t like it very much,” he observed.

The company’s flagship product, Winning Colours stain remover, is billed as being “strong as a solvent; as gentle as soap.”

Lehner won’t disclose the formula behind the product, but he said modern product formulation is a moving target.

“It’s not feasible today to remain fixed in a single formulation due to the availability of new raw materials and changing regulations,” he said.

Lehner insists attitudes regarding green must change too.

Looking for a Niche Market? Think Microwave

Over the years, marketers have rolled out specialized products to clean the convection ovens, hardwood surfaces and toilet bowls. But maybe they should turn their attention to the ubiquitous microwave oven, which, it turns out, is getting more use than ever these days due to the recession. According to a study by The NPD Group, Port Washington, NY, Americans are eating at home more but they’re opting for microwaves rather than an open flame to cook their food.

“Microwaving has been flat for two decades, but it increased last year as Americans found a way to eat at home and not cook,” said Harry Balzer, chief industry analyst at The NPD Group, and author of Eating Patterns in America, an annual compilation of NPD’s food and beverage market research. “We’re using our microwaves to warm and heat more, but not prepare more dishes from scratch.”

According to Balzer and NPD’s food industry market research, Americans used their microwave ovens more last year and their stove tops less. Approximately 20% of all meals prepared in U.S. homes from 1990 to 2007 involved the use of a microwave, until last year when usage rose 10%. He said stove tops remain the most popular cooking appliance but the percent of main meals prepared on a stove top dropped from 52% in 1985 to 33% in 2009.

“I’ve observed America’s eating patterns in good and bad economies, and the constant is that there is no recession in eating and Americans don’t want to cook what they eat,” said Balzer.

“The tendency is to characterize some products as green and others as not,” he said. “We anticipate a post-environmental market where there will be no nasty products like our grandparents knew. Consumers will expect the product to be environmentally-reasonable.”

Demand for all things green has helped Method expand its distribution in the U.S. and Canada.

“While the primary growth has been in mainstream grocery and drug outlets across North America, some important national retailers were added to our portfolio during the past year including Bed Bath and Beyond, Lowe’s Home Improvement Centers and Babies ‘R Us/Toys ‘R Us,” she said.

According to Rosenblum, these partners offer excellent distribution of the Method brand at key locations where consumers do their shopping.

Five of the Simple Green Naturals products that were launched in 2008 received Green Seal Certification earlier this year (see Happi, April 2009, p. 64). For now it will hold off on more certifications to measure the impact that the prominent display of the Green Seal certification mark has on the Naturals line, according to Denise Dochnahl, a company spokesperson.

“We are hoping that Green Seal will continue to be featured in consumer publications and on television programs such as “Good Morning America” where it has been before,” she explained.

According to Dochnahl, the more manufacturers and Green Seal can educate the public about the purpose and the process behind Green Seal certification, the more the certification mark will hold meaning and value.

“Unlike many of our competitors, we have chosen to very prominently display the certification mark on our front product labels, with the hope that the consumer will see it and learn that it is a verification of the claims and information found on our labels,” she added.

In another move, the company launched Simple Green Pet Stain & Odor Remover. The product’s Bond Technology eliminates odors permanently—with no resoiling or remarking, according to the company.

Keeping Ahead of Deadlines



Procter & Gamble has been extremely busy in the dishwashing category, both in the autodish and handwash segments. Next month, P&G will introduce a phosphate-free version of Cascade automatic dish detergent. The move comes well ahead of a July 2010 ban on ADD formulas that contain phosphate.

For its part, Method launched Smarty Dish, a phosphate- and bleach-free dishwasher detergent more than a year ago, but the company recently repackaged the brand.

The introduction of phosphate-free Cascade follows the addition of Dawn Hand Renewal with Olay Beauty. The product is available in a variety of formulas that seem more at home on a cosmetic counter than a kitchen counter. SKUs include Pomegranate and Splash with Vitamin E, Lavender and Silk with Vitamin E, Aloe Vera Scent and Tropical Shea Butter.

According to P&G, Olay Beauty transforms the look and feel of hands in just five uses, while maintaining Dawn’s normal grease-fighting power.

There’s no doubt that skin-caring ingredients will provide a boost to Dawn’s sales. But for many marketers today, the biggest growth opportunities and challenges lie in the green sector.

“We believe that someday, the entire cleaning aisle in all stores will be eco-friendly and non-toxic,” said Rosen- blum. “It’s actually happening faster than we thought and that’s great!”
  • Fit for Fitness

    Fit for Fitness

    Christine Esposito, Associate Editor||February 21, 2017
    Kinx Active is a new brand targeting women who want beauty products that can stand up to their fitness routines.

  • Cargo Says Aloha To Spring/Summer

    Cargo Says Aloha To Spring/Summer

    Christine Esposito, Associate Editor||February 13, 2017
    Cargo Cosmetics has rolled out its new Spring/Summer collection with Hawiianan singer Anuhea.

  • Cashing In on Coconuts

    Cashing In on Coconuts

    Melissa Meisel, Associate Editor||February 6, 2017
    Organic to Green is making waves for its new oils and eco-friendly packaging.

  • Trade Association Directory 2017

    February 2, 2017
    Contact details of trade associations that serve various segments of our industry and are mentioned frequently in Happi.

  • What the Halal  Is Going On?

    What the Halal Is Going On?

    Imogen Matthews , In-Cosmetics||February 2, 2017
    Demand for these beauty products is surging thanks to a fastgrowing Muslim population.

  • Relief for Sensitive Scalps

    Relief for Sensitive Scalps

    Guadalupe Pellon and Annette Mehling , BASF||February 2, 2017
    BASF researchers detail the attributes of the company’s highly effective hair care system focusing on scalp sensitivity.

  • What’s in Style?

    What’s in Style?

    Melissa Meisel , Associate Editor||February 1, 2017
    The latest sprays, gels, mousses, serums and creams for hair are filled with luxury components and meet a variety of needs

  • Defining Clean Skin

    Defining Clean Skin

    Nava Dayan PhD, Dr. Nava Dayan LLC||February 1, 2017
    A look at the issues, research and history surrounding this controversial topic.

  • Linked In

    Linked In

    Christine Esposito , Associate Editor||February 1, 2017
    Through virtual reality, apps and connected devices, beauty and personal care brands can strengthen their customer relations

  • Hitting the Right Notes

    Hitting the Right Notes

    January 6, 2017
    Agilex Fragrances is the leader in the middle market fragrance category.

  • The Smell of Clean in 2017

    The Smell of Clean in 2017

    January 6, 2017
    Changing consumer lifestyles and demographics are impacting the scents found in the household cleaning category.

  • On the Edge

    On the Edge

    January 6, 2017
    Expanding beauty brands to watch in 2017

  • A New Contender?

    A New Contender?

    January 6, 2017
    Detergent sales are up, innovation continues and Henkel is determined to make it a dogfight in the segment.

  • Engagement 2016

    Engagement 2016

    January 6, 2017
    CSPA convenes in Fort Lauderdale for annual meeting.

  • Slow & Steady

    Slow & Steady

    Tom Branna, Editorial Director||December 1, 2016
    In a tumultuous environment, steady gains posted in the industrial and institutional cleaning sector are welcomed.

  • The World Comes to Orlando

    The World Comes to Orlando

    Tom Branna, Editorial Director||December 1, 2016
    More than 1,600 chemists traveled to Florida for the IFSCC Congress

  • The Plex Phenomenon

    The Plex Phenomenon

    Denise Costrini, Croda North America||December 1, 2016
    Croda details the hair-protecting qualities of bond multipliers and the company’s new bond-building formulation system.

  • New Hair Care Ingredients

    December 1, 2016
    Check out the latest releases from suppliers.

  • Hair & Now

    Hair & Now

    Melissa Meisel, Associate Editor ||December 1, 2016
    The shampoo and conditioner category is expanding with modern takes on these classic formulations.

  • Perform or Perish

    Perform or Perish

    Christine Esposito, Associate Editor||December 1, 2016
    Success in today’s skin care sector begins with active ingredients, formulated in products that address modern-day issues.

  • Aromas Revealed: Fragrance Disclosure

    Aromas Revealed: Fragrance Disclosure

    Daniel Greenberg, Agilex Fragrances||November 2, 2016
    Fragrance disclosure is a potentially dangerous issue.

  • New and Noteworthy:  Fine Fragrance Roundup  for Fall 2016

    New and Noteworthy: Fine Fragrance Roundup for Fall 2016

    Melissa Meisel, Associate Editor||November 2, 2016
    Check out the latest launches in fragrance this season.

  • Soap Opera

    Soap Opera

    Christine Esposito, Associate Editor||November 2, 2016
    FDA’s recent antibacterial ruling has soap sector stakeholders scrambling to keep some ingredients in their formulation kit.

  • New Ingredients for  Household Cleaners

    New Ingredients for Household Cleaners

    Tom Branna, Editorial Director||November 2, 2016
    Here are ingredients introduced by suppliers during the past 12 months.

  • Clean It Up

    Clean It Up

    Tom Branna, Editorial Director||November 2, 2016
    The home care industry takes a hard look at itself and the changing world it competes in.

  • A-Okay!

    A-Okay!

    Imogen Matthews, For In-Cosmetics||November 2, 2016
    K-Beauty influences cosmetic development around the world.

  • Shine On

    Shine On

    Melissa Meisel, Associate Editor||November 2, 2016
    Oral care products are rising to the task with innovative components.

  • Next Gen  Antiseptics

    Next Gen Antiseptics

    Emily Kalal and Katherine S. Maka, RITA Corporation||November 2, 2016
    RITA researchers detail the benefits of 0.75% chlorhexidine gluconate (CHG) antiseptic handwash