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Animal Kingdom

April 1, 2010

Is the household cleaning market going to the dogs...and cats?

Animal Kingdom

Is the household cleaning market going to the dogs...and cats?

Christine Esposito
Associate Editor

Cleaning up after your pet has taken on new meaning in the household care sector. While tackling “accidents” with a basic cleaner, and maybe a new throw rug, had been the strategy for many years, manufacturers are more actively sniffing out the needs of pet owners, rolling out products aimed at making cleaning up a walk in the (dog) park.

Why so much emphasis on the animals amongst us? It’s about the numbers. According to the American Pet Products Association, 62% of U.S. households own a pet—and dog and cat owners specifically are willing to shell out cash to care for their furry friends.

IBISWorld, Santa Monica, CA, forecasts that the number of cat and dog pets will hit nearly 180 million by the end of the year, representing growth of 1.7% annually over the past five years.

“In turn, consumer spending on products related to household pet care has been growing along with pet ownership,” noted IBISWorld analyst Alla Bronshteyn.

P&G has teamed up with “Dog Whisperer” Cesar Millan to promote its redesigned Swiffer SweeperVac.
According to IBISWorld, total spending on pets is approximately $40 billion. Of that, pet supplies make up 25% with pet cleaning/household pet products accounting for less than one-fifth. While spending was lower during the economic downturn, Bronshteyn anticipates it will pick back up this year.

Mirroring the rise in ownership, pet cleaning marketing activities, and product launches have been on the rise and increased distribution has helped fuel the market.
“Household pet care/cleaning products are currently available in more stores than ever before, including large retailers such as Target and Home Depot, allowing for consumers to purchase these products while doing their regular shopping,” she said.

In addition, Bronshteyn contends “new technology has fostered innovation in pet products, including cleaning cloths, air fresheners designed to take out pet odor and fabric sprays.”

Rug Doctor in March unveiled new Urine Eliminator Wipes as well as new pet formula for use in its carpet cleaning machines. The wipes are specially formulated to attack and remove the source of tough pet stains and odors via an active enzyme-powered cleaning formula that dissolves the salts and acids in pet waste that can cling to carpet fibers and cause stains and odors. The new 2X Pet Formula Carpet Cleaner offers that same pro-enzymatic formula as the wipes which, when used in a home carpet cleaning extraction machine, puts twice the standard cleaning power in the hands of pet lovers to help them tackle tough stains, remove dander and deodorize their carpet, the company said.

Comprised of work and meeting spaces as well as indoor kennels and an outdoor pet play area, Bissell Pack of Pet Lovers' Playground in its new innovation center allows employees to bring their pets to work with them for inspiration in developing new pet products.
Bissell last year rolled out Pawsitively Clean, a line of clean-up products that include Yecch drool cleaner, Crikey carpet and upholstery cleaner and Ewww enzyme-powered pet stain and odor remover. Based on “strong initial sales,” the company has added a new compact deep cleaning machine to the range. Dubbed Yikes, the device is said to remove even the grossest of pet stains from carpets or upholstery with Bissell’s 2X earth-friendly machine formula.

Bissell—which has been addressing pet issues since 2005—has boosted its marketing efforts in 2010, launching a new website that featuring forums, pet-related articles, the Pack of Pet Lovers blogger community, tips from pet lifestyle expert Kristen Levine and an interactive pet stain removal guide. In addition, the firm is partnering with pet adoption organizations like Petfinder, the Kent County Humane Society, and North Shore Animal League America (NSALA), and by sponsoring such events as Furry Scurry, BlockTail Party and NSALA's Adoptathon, where it will encourage the adoption of more American pets by dispelling consumer qualms about pet clean-up.

For Grand Rapids, MI-based Bissell, it’s not just about the homeowners who already have a pets, but possibly capturing the 38% that say they would add a pet to their home if clean-up was easier.

Release the Hounds

According to IBISWorld’s Bronshteyn, more variety in pet cleaning products is “likely to cater to a wider audience and drive sales up.”

So can tapping a celebrity spokesperson. P&G, for example, has forged a partnership between Swiffer and renowned dog behaviorist Cesar Millan. Better known as the Dog Whisperer, Millan hosts an Emmy-nominated TV series that trains pet owners on a pet-friendly approach to cleaning up after their pooches.

“More than half of Swiffer’s target audience are pet owners and, as you can imagine, pet owners face unique cleaning challenges,” noted Marchoe Northern, Swiffer brand manager. “Based on his unique approach to cleaning around your pet, Cesar is the perfect partner to communicate Swiffer’s cleaning benefits to pet owners. In fact, when we first met Cesar, he gave us great insight about how to create a pet-friendly cleaning environment. We believe that Cesar’s expertise in training, in addition to Swiffer’s cleaning credentials will be a great combination.

The 18-month partnership with Millan is focused on Swiffer’s newly redesigned Swiffer SweeperVac, which combines the Swiffer Dry Cloth with the power of a cordless, rechargeable vacuum cleaner. The head of the SweeperVac has been redesigned to better reach under and around furniture where pet hair hides.

Millan has extensive experience with hair; he has a dozen pets at home.

“When you have as many dogs as I do, you tend you have a lot of dog hair to pick up. It’s a constant task to keep the house clean and it’s important that the home environment remain calm and clean for the well-being of your entire pack, dog and human,” said Milan.“We use Swiffer products at home because they are convenient and avoid a lot of hassle you get from traditional mops and vacuums. It was a natural partnership and I appreciate that Swiffer has pet-friendly cleaning methods in mind.”

Millan’s alliance with Swiffer also includes dispensing advice about cleaning in pet-occupied home. For example, he suggested homeowners think about cleaning as they would grooming.

“Many dogs get anxious when they see the grooming brush or nail trimmer come out,” he said. “The owner feels nervous about clipping and the dog senses that there is something to be nervous about, so they may bite or bark at the tool. The key is to be patient, reinforce the positive behavior with a treat or other reward, and gradually work up to longer grooming sessions. The same is true of cleaning. When you introduce your dog to a new tool, leave it around for him to smell and get familiar with seeing before you start to use it. Then take small steps before cleaning an entire room or house. And make sure that as you clean, you maintain your calm, assertive energy.”

Touch of Green

A Zen-like approach may help calm rattled nerves, but for some pet owners chemicals used in many cleaning products that are a greater concern.

An offshoot of the trend toward greener lifestyles, the interest in safer chemistries can also be traced to the pet food recall in 2007, which led to a number of pet fatalities, say industry observers.

Brampton Company’s PawSafe line features traditional household cleaners products formulated natural plant-based ingredients.
“Consumers are more conscious of chemicals used in pet products and negative effects on their pets. Pet owners are increasing their use of organic and all-natural products, such as cleaning products that are phosphate-free or those that are made with vegetable enzymes. This follows the increase in purchases of organic and all-natural products such as pet food, cat litter, shampoos and conditioners,” said Bronshteyn.

It’s a trend that The Brampton Company is tapping into with its new PawSafe Household Cleaners, a line of products formulated with natural plant-based ingredients such as vegetable-derived surfactants, citric acid, emulsifiers, fragrance and organic pigments.

According to Dalllas-based Brampton, consumers are unaware of the harmful effects traditional household cleaners can pose—like when a dog or cat pads across a freshly mopped kitchen floor then licks his paws, possibly consuming chemicals like ammonia; they press their noses against or lick a window, ingesting chemical cleaner residue; or (everyone’s favorite) drinking out of the toilet, which raises the chances of lapping up cleaning chemicals like chorine. These situations can cause rashes, respiratory irritation and other health issues, according to Brampton, which notes that the ASPCA lists household cleaners in the top 10 among poison calls handled by their poison control center.

The Paw Safe line—which will be stocked at PetsMart, PetCo and other pet retailers nationwide—consists offloor cleaner, window cleaner, multi-surface cleaner, tub and tile cleaner, toilet cleaner and a toy and dish cleaner.

While Brampton has more than 30 years in the pet industry offering items such as training pads, stain and odor removers and diapers, this is its first foray into household-specific cleaners. According to Michael Gregory, quality control/R&D manager, all formulas were developed in-house and testing was duplicated and verified by third party laboratories.

The PawSafe range contains new surfactant technologies, highlighted by chemistries that have the lowest toxicity and irritancy ratings while maintaining superior wetting and foaming properties.

“This enables using lower amounts of surfactants to clean better than other cleaners with higher amounts of surfactants. Additionally, the surfactants are biodegradable and made from plant based renewable resources,” Gregory told Happi.

Brampton’s entry into space—and other’s too—stems from the clear shift in how homeowners view their four-legged friends.

“In the past, pets were less likely to be thought of as members of the family,” said Gregory. “In today’s world pets are considered by most to be an extension of their family. Today’s pet owners often treat their pets as they would their children. Today’s pet owners desire effective, high quality, worry free products to help take the stress out of pet ownership.”

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