Sales of household cleaning cloths in the US mass market posted significant gains in the past year. According to IRI, a Chicago-based market research firm, sales of household cleaner cloths in US multi-outlets (supermarkets, drug stores, mass market retailers, military commissaries and select club and dollar retail chains) rose 8.14% to $586.1 million for the 52 weeks ending May 19, 2013.
According to IRI’s data, all-purpose offerings seemed to resonate best, with sales up 9% and unit sales up 6.39%.
“General purpose product marketers are doing a good job of convincing consumers that these wipes can cross into many task-specific areas, from kitchen to bath and beyond. Just select your preferred scent and clean up,” said Susan R. Stansbury, founder of ConvertingInfluence.com and a wipes industry expert. “There are some instances, however, of task-specific surface wipes such as Method brand’s granite ‘stone purpose’ surface wipes.”
Now You’re Getting Personal
In the personal care side of the wipes business, sales of moist towelettes rose 3.72% to $1.6 billion dollars (see chart below for more details). Consumers carry these wet nonwoven cloths for general hand cleansing and other must-attend-to situations.
In fact, two of the newest wipes products that have rolled out tackle some very personal tasks.
Last month marked the debut of One Wipe Charlies, a new wipe from Dollar Shave Club, a start-up online razor retailer.
One Wipe Charlies are flushable moist toilet wipes. It’s not new territory—Cottonelle and Charmin stock SKUs in major retailers and supermarkets—but Dollar Shave has put a new spin on the product: think baby wipe for bros.
According to the company, 51% percent of US men 18-45 use flushable wipes. Half of men are using wipes to get clean, 16% of them use wipes instead of toilet paper.
On his blog, Dollar Shave CEO/founder Michael Dubin contends that men “yearn for something designed for men, not infants. Something they can be proud to put on display.”
So, Dollar Shave packaged the wipes in a more masculine way, and took an irreverent launch approach that went viral, and brought along some extensive coverage from the mainstream media. In fact, stories about One Wipe Charlie rolled across websites from the Huffington Post to Time to The New York Times.
Another “highly personal” launch that drew some attention was Fresh + Sexy Wipes by Playtex. Energizer Personal Care rolled out these so-called “before-and-after” intimate wipes just before Valentine’s Day.
According to Erik Rahner, group marketing director, Energizer Personal Care, the SKU addresses an important consumer need. “Sex isn’t always a planned event that can be prepared for. With Fresh + Sexy wipes, couples now have a way to be clean and ready for even the most spontaneous moments. They can be ready for intimacy whenever—and wherever—the mood strikes,” he said in press statement when the product was unveiled.
The lightly scented, soft textured wipes—which feature a hypoallergenic formula—are available in a travel pack, as singles (20 individual wrapped wipes), and in a tub at price points that range from $5.99-7.99. Don’t expect to find them with the baby wipes; they’re stocked in the family planning aisle, according to the brand, which more recently tapped the “King of Partying” Andrew W.K. as the product’s spokesperson.
Stansbury said intimate wipes for women and men are finding their audience.
“When people shop for their own personal needs, they often move to products that are perceived to fit an individual lifestyle. You do not tend to find store brands in these areas,” she said.
Beyond the Basics
For less intimate areas, personal care wipes offer a bevy of benefits ranging from on-the-go full-body cleansing to spa-like treatments.
Action Wipes is a new full body wipe perfect for cleansing after hiking, biking or after the gym. The 9”x10” premium cloth is durable enough to be repurposed for equipment cleanup among countless other uses, but is made with select plant-derived ingredients including tea tree and eucalyptus oils, according to firm. The wipes are sold in individually-wrapped large singles ($1.49), 30-sheet soft dispenser packs suited for car, boat, saddle bag, emergency bag, travel kit, sports bag and backpacks ($24.99), and a 30-pack of individually-wrapped wet wipes ($29.97) in gyms, health clubs, sporting goods, outdoors, cycling and specialty fitness retailers worldwide.
CleanWell has rolled out its own All-Natural 10-Count Pocket Wipes. Made with a patented blend of thyme oil, the wipes are designed to keep hands and face moisturized throughout the day, and retail for $3.99 at Whole Foods Market as well as online (at Amazon.com and CleanWellToday.com).
Diamond Wipes, parent company of La Fresh Group, has rolled out Travel Lite, a line of beauty and personal care wipes sold in mini three-count packs and mini eight-count pouches, offering everything from makeup remover to antiperspirant wipes.
Meanwhile green marketer Seventh Generation offers facial cleansing wipes in its natural line of personal care products, which features the USDA Certified Biobased Label, and Yes To added new Yes To Grapefruit Brightening Facial Towelettes that lightly exfoliate the skin and are compostable.
New Fab Feet from Global Beauty Care is billed as an innovative line of foot cleansing wipes that cool, revive and refresh tired feet. They are formulated with glycerin and vitamin E to moisturize skin while cleansing and are infused with therapeutic ingredients. The line includes Fab Feet Eucalyptus Foot Cleansing Wipes, harnessing eucalyptus oil, an ingredient known for its antimicrobial and antifungal properties; Fab Feet Menthol Foot Cleansing Wipes; and Fab Feet Peppermint Foot Cleansing Wipes.
In addition, beauty brands L’Oréal and Stila are targeting the makeup remover sector with new wipes. L’Oréal Paris Ideal Clean Makeup Removing Towelettes are said to be non-drying and safe for sensitive skin, while Stila’s Ready For Take Off Moisturizing Cleansing Cloths are infused with lavender and chamomile to soothe and calm skin. The pre-moistened, multi-tasking wipes are 100% biodegradable, according to Stila.
Still another new wipe is the Reviver, a reusable wipe that eliminates unwanted aromas on clothes and hair. The swatch is rubbed against the clothes, which releases odor-neutralizing compounds and leaves behind a just-laundered scent. Users control the amount of freshness through the length and pressure of the application.
Each Reviver wipe comes in a resealable foil packet and delivers multiple treatments, reducing time-consuming trips to the dry cleaner or laundry, according to creator Ben Kusin. His lightbulb moment for this wipe came when he realized he smelled like smoke, but had nothing to freshen clothes and hair.
Right at Home
While demand for wipes for household cleaning may have been tempered slightly by the recession, sales of all-purpose wipes posted a significant gain the past year—offering evidence that the category has held up in the face of tougher economic times.
New SKUs from well-known CPG companies continue to hit store shelves.
Munchkin, Inc., known for its infant and toddler products, has rolled out a number of cleaning products, including wipes, touting Church & Dwight’s Arm & Hammer baking soda. By doing so the brand is tapping into parents’ desires for products that are natural, effective and convenient. Arm & Hammer Stain Treatment Wipes are free of parabens, dyes, sulfates, fragrance and phthalates, and are ideal for treating stains on-the-go, as they are sold individually-packaged.
Along with convenience, scent is also a purchase driver in the wipes sector. Earlier this year, P&G expanded the Swiffer wipe stable by bringing in one of its most recognizable scents—that of Gain. The range now includes Swiffer Dry Cloths with Gain scent, Wet Cloths with Gain scent and 180° Duster with Gain scent, all designed to attract Gain’s loyal following. The move follows P&G’s extension of the Gain brand from laundry care to dish detergent in 2010.
Making the task easier and more enjoyable is a key seller in the cleaning sector, regardless of product form. In fact, what could be more fun than watching a robot clean for you? Here too, wipes are finding a role.
O-Cedar, for example, recently rolled out the O-Duster, billed as the first “affordable” robotic floor cleaner. It uses exclusive disposable electrostatic cleaning cloths to attract and retain dust, dirt and hair. Users attach the cloth to a flexible mesh base on the device, select the timed cleaning program and dispose of the cloth after use. O-Duster works on hard floor surfaces including wood, tile, laminate, marble and linoleum, according to O-Cedar, which is part of Freudenberg Household Products, a division of the Freudenberg Group. The device is stocked at retailers such as HEB, Publix, ShopRite, Target, Walmart and Winn Dixie for $39.99. The electrostatic pad refills are priced at $8.99.
‘Fur’ the Kids
Taking care of lingering odors and dirt from “fur kids” has created another niche for wipes makers to explore.
BioLargo, a maker of environmentally-friendly antimicrobial and disinfecting technologies, has created the Nature’s Best Solution pet-centric line of products, which includes wipes. Offered through the firm’s wholly-owned subsidiary Odor-No-More, the range includes Natures’ Best Solution Litter Box Wipes.
Green Hygienics is expanding its stable of green wipes with pet-centric wipes for paws, eyes and ears. There’s even medicated anti-itch wipes, bathing wipes and tooth cleaning products. Each wipe product can be made from traditionally sourced paper or 100% biodegradable organically grown bamboo.
But it’s not all about eliminating Buster’s lingering scents; wet wipes can play a role in reducing pathogens too.
For instance, All American Pet Company’s PAWtizer alcohol-free, antibacterial wipes are present in the UCLA Health System to eliminate the potential risk of passing pathogens, which can compromise the health of patients, medical staff and visitors, as well as the therapy dog handlers themselves.
“There are more than 640,000 registered therapy dogs administering to 32,689,220 patients in 5,385 US hospitals annually. There are hand sanitizers at the entrance of every hospital room to sanitize our hands, but no one is sanitizing the therapy dog’s paws. It is a well-established fact that there are as many germs on paws as there are on hands—if not more so in a medical facility,” said Barry Schwartz, CEO of All American Pet Company.
Right on Hand
In hospitals and other I&I settings, easy access to wipes helps increase compliance, which reduces risk of illnesses spreading and helps keep facilities cleaner.
For instance, Duo LLC has created a unique system that places wipes at critical place; its Tri Hygiene System is a patented and trademarked system for personal hygiene that combines toilet paper and flushable wipes in a single place. To protect plumbing systems and wastewater treatment the wipes are flushable.
When it comes to keeping surfaces free of germs and pathogens, no brand is more synonymous with disinfection than Clorox. The Clorox Professional Products Company recently announced that its Clorox Commercial Solutions Clorox Hydrogen Peroxide Disinfecting Cleaners, which were rolled out in March last year, won the 2012 International Sanitary Supply Association Innovation Award for Best Cleaning Agent.
In other I&I wipes news, Green Innovations’ Green Hygienics unit has signed an exclusive North American licensing agreement with Tauriga Sciences Inc. for the commercial launch of hospital grade products including 100% tree-free bamboo-based biodegradable disinfectant wipes. And, a new patent has been issued (US Patent No. 8444007 B2), for a dispenser for moisturized sheets in the core of a toilet paper roll, a location is particularly handy for toilet use. In using existing bathroom fixtures, the novel concept dispenses the moisturized sheets from the volume of the core previously occupied by the conventional spool. The invention further provides a hermetically sealed refill unit and a method of dispensing and refilling.
A Bright Future
Freedonia is predicting solid growth moving forward for the wipes market. Demand for wipes in the US, according to the Cleveland-based market research company, is forecast to rise 5.1% a year to $2.5 billion in 2016, aided by ongoing improvements in the economy and features that make wipes go-to products—ease of use, disposability, portability and reduced risk of cross-contamination.
It is a rosy outlook for nonwoven wipes as consumers continue to crave these convenience products.
“Convenience around the house, while traveling and in other instances, continues to make wet wipes desirable. They are now part of the routine shopping list for many consumers,” said Stansbury. “Marketers are taking advantage of developments in materials, like softer, stronger, scrubbing surfaces and truly flushable and ‘natural’ fibers. They are combining these characteristics with additives that make every type of cleaning, cleansing, soothing, fragrant (and fragrance-free) and other functional feature to add value.”