Clearly, consumers have spoken and they’ve chosen unit dose forms for their convenience. But Procter & Gamble’s biggest laundry launches of 2017 put the focus firmly on fragrance and freshness. In June, Febreze with OdorClear Technology and Tide Pods with Downy both made their debuts. The new Febreze variant includes proprietary technology that is said to seek out and clean away odors thanks to a formula that contains cyclodextrins and citric acid. According to P&G, OdorClear cleans away odors in two simple ways: seeking out bad odors and cleaning away odors by deactivating them and replacing them with a light, fresh scent.
Tide Pods Plus Downy is said to provide four benefits in a single pac: cleaning, stain removal, brightening and protection from fading and stretching. P&G goes so far as to deem the formula a “conditioning detergent.” When paired with Downy fabric conditioner, it provides an extra layer of “anti-aging protection against stretching, fading and fuzzing.” Another example of how skin-caring attributes are making inroads into the laundry business.
Proving that soft sells in laundry care, especially when it comes to kids and babies, in May, P&G rolled out Dreft Purtouch, a 65% plant-based baby detergent that said to be hypoallergenic and made with naturally-derived ingredients. The formula is free of dyes, chlorine, phosphates, ethanolamine and optical brighteners and is made with 100% renewable wind power electricity at a zero-manufacturing-waste-to-landfill site.
The launch comes at a time when expectant parents are making careful choices when it comes to preparing for baby, according to P&G. In fact, a recent Dreft survey found over half of parents-to-be began reading labels on products more closely and purchasing more natural food and drinks after discovering that they were expecting a little one. The same study found that 70% of those surveyed were planning to remove potentially harmful objects or products from their home upon their baby’s arrival.
Scents & Sensibilities
The majority of consumers love fragrance in their laundry, but more of them want to know what’s inside that pack, bottle or sheet, too. The industry worked closely with NGOs and California legislators to craft legislation that all parties could live with regarding ingredient transparency.
California’s Cleaning Product Right to Know Act (SB 258), signed by Governor Jerry Brown in October, requires cleaning products sold in the state to list ingredients on labels and provide additional ingredient information on websites. As a result, manufacturers must disclose the presence of potential fragrance allergens within their products too. Product labels must be updated by Jan. 1, 2021 and manufacturer websites by Jan. 1, 2020.
The American Cleaning Institute and allied associations worked closely with state legislators to craft a law that is meaningful and useful for its members, said Melissa Hockstad, president and chief executive officer, ACI. Working with the Consumer Specialty Products Association, American Chemistry Council, Grocery Manufacturers Association and International Fragrance Association North America, ACI was able to effect change.
“We will continue to collaborate with our sister trade associations. It is always better to work together than apart,” she noted.
“(Right to Know) is part of doing business,” she told Happi. “We started our ingredient communication initiative in 2010. Our member companies recognize that this is the path forward.”
Now, SC Johnson is going even further by disclosing potential skin allergens in its products. According to Kelly Semrau, SVP-global corporate affairs, communication and sustainability at SC Johnson, SCJ is the first major consumer packaged goods company in the industry to disclose skin allergens to this extent.
“Most companies only release the information that is required. In Europe that would be the EU26, and in the US there are currently no rules requiring allergen transparency,” she explained. “We don’t stop at what’s required, we go above and beyond regulatory and industry standards because we believe it’s the right thing to do.”
SC Johnson was the first multinational to tackle ingredient transparency; according to Semrau, the topic is critical to the company.
“We take this seriously because we believe that consumers deserve to know what goes into the products they bring into their homes and we want to help them make informed choices for themselves and their families,” she explained. “We work hard to choose ingredients consumers can trust and we’re committed to communicating about them openly. Ingredient safety is a complicated science and can be easily misunderstood and, ultimately, transparency builds consumer trust and credibility for our company and for the industry as a whole.”
In the laundry category, one of SC Johnson’s biggest brand is Shout stain remover, but Semrau insisted that there is nothing unique to Shout when it comes to skin allergens.
“There is a misconception in laundry care that products that are fragrance free or dye free are allergen free and that’s not accurate. The majority of cleaning and laundry care products contain enzymes that create reactions to break down stains. Often these enzymes contain low levels of potential skin allergens. Most companies don’t disclose these because they are not required to do so, but we think it’s important to educate consumers on the ingredients in our products so that they can make the right choices for their families.”
All this promotion of freshness and fragrance has some executives suggesting that the war on dirt has been won by laundry detergent makers, but one executive at Henkel disagrees.
“The war on dirt is never over, as effective cleaning will always be paramount for the average consumer,” insisted Bibie Wu, North American VP/Head of Laundry Conditioners & Home Care for Henkel.
However, Henkel has been a leader in laundry fragrance for a long time, and that experience for many consumers is critical and demand is on the rise. She noted that Snuggle has been recognized as a leader in fabric conditioning for years, delivering long-lasting, on-trend scents, and layering across all forms: liquid, sheets and scent boosters.
“On the opposite side of the coin, we’re also continuing to have success with our unscented/hypoallergenic lines, led by our All Free Clear brand, the No. 1 brand recommended by dermatologists, allergists and pediatricians for sensitive skin, according to Wu.
Procter & Gamble continues to dominate the US laundry category with nearly an 80% share of the packet segment, 70% share of the powder category and 55% of the liquid category. But competitors are keeping the heat on P&G. The acquisition of Sun Products positioned Henkel as the second largest laundry care product company in North America.
The acquisition complemented and strengthened the laundry and home care portfolio brands and has enabled Henkel to further leverage its innovation leadership and partnership with retailers, explained Wu.
In 2017, Henkel saw several of its new products continue to grow by uniquely addressing consumers’ needs. Snuggle Plus SuperFresh was launched in 2016 as the first regimen of fabric conditioner and dryer sheets that solves the problem of lingering odor. Nine out of ten households cite odor as a top concern when doing laundry. While many laundry products just mask odor with fragrance, Snuggle Plus SuperFresh helps eliminate it. In 2017, this platform continued to grow double digits and was recognized with “Product of the Year” and “Best New Product” awards. And Persil continues to be one of the fastest growing brands in the laundry cleaning category in 2017.
Contributing to the brand’s success last year was the launch of Persil ProClean Power-Caps 2in1 Stain Fighter. It is a pre-measured, single-dose detergent that simplifies the laundry experience.
“We know based on consumer insights, that consumers understand the convenience of the single-dose form, but are still skeptical of the form’s efficacy,” observed Wu.
Therefore, Persil ProClean Power-Caps 2in1 detergent is giving consumers the power of choice with an effective, stain-centric alternative option. Despite its compact single-dose size, Persil ProClean Power-Caps 2in1 is packed with Persil ProClean brand’s strongest stain-fighters, featuring a unique cavity-based design that is said to optimize enzyme activation in the wash.
With its Sun acquisition fully digested, Henkel made the decision to move US headquarters clear across the country, trading Arizona for Connecticut.
According to Wu, Henkel chose Stamford for a variety of reasons, one being that Henkel already had a major presence in Connecticut, with its North American headquarters, as well as a significant adhesives division, based in Rocky Hill, outside of Hartford.
“Stamford provides employees with a work space in a dynamic city that offers the best of urban culture combined with the convenience of easy transportation and provides the company with a depth of great talent,” explained Wu. “By combining the beauty and laundry business together in Stamford, with close proximity to the laundry R&D lab in Trumbull, and a large number of support functions in Rocky Hill, the company has been able to operate with greater efficiency maximizing synergies.”
Wu said the new facility in Stamford, and R&D labs in both Trumbull and Stamford, showcase a forward-thinking office design, with state-of-the-art technology fostering a high level of creativity and collaboration, which are fundamental for growth and success as a thriving consumer goods business.
Next Stop, Orlando
If it’s January, that means that the American Cleaning Institute’s Annual Convention is right around the corner. This year’s event returns to Grand Lakes Orlando in Orlando, FL from Jan. 29 to Feb. 3, 2018. For Hockstad, the event marks the completion of her first year at the helm of the association.
“I’ve loved every minute of it,” she told Happi. “This industry is so dedicated and committed to innovation and growth.”
After helping to hammer out workable Right-to-Know legislation in California, ACI’s No. 1 priority in 2018 is guaranteeing consumer access to antiseptic hand products and the five active ingredients under review—benzalkonium chloride, benzethonium chloride, chloroxylenol, alcohol, and povidone-iodine. The Association is generating a plethora of data to ensure regulators all the information that they need. Hockstad said testing is still in its early stages of what could be an 8-10-year process.
ACI got some good news last month when FDA deferred rulemaking regarding the use of antibacterial ingredients in healthcare antiseptic products.
“The American Cleaning Institute welcomes the decision by the Food and Drug Administration to defer rulemaking on critically important ingredients used in healthcare antiseptic products,” said Richard Sedlak, EVP-technical & international affairs.
“Manufacturers need sufficient time to provide FDA with additional safety and efficacy data to support the continued use of these products in healthcare facilities.
“The active ingredients used in healthcare antiseptic drug products have very favorable benefit/risk ratios demonstrated over many years of extensive use. These products clearly save lives by reducing bacterial transmission that can cause infections in healthcare settings.”
In other developments, ACI is part of the American Alliance for Innovation which is overseeing industry efforts on implementation of the Toxic Substances Control Act, which was signed by President Barak Obama in 2016. Meanwhile, ACI continues working with the Environmental Protection Agency to ensure continuation of the Safer Choice program. Also this year, ACI is committed to driving sustainability, one of its core pillars, through the supply chain. That means communicating with retailers and developing tools to help member companies operate sustainably.
These and other activities have energized ACI membership, so it’s no surprise to learn that more than 1000 industry executives will attend the annual convention this month. In addition to providing an update on state, national and international regulations, attendees have an excellent opportunity to get bottom line results at what many describe as the best B-to-B forum in the industry.
Of course, there’s plenty to do for those who aren’t bogged down in all-day negotiations. For example, the consumer panel returns this year with a 2018 focus on Millennial cleaning habits. Takasago, in partnership with ACI, will present “Coming Clean with Millennials,” on Wednesday, Jan. 31. The same day, The Women’s Forum will be devoted to inclusive leadership that drives results. The Forum will define the term and explain how companies can use it to move business forward.
Of course, not all of ACI’s activities are focused on Orlando or state and federal capitols. Last year, Hockstad and Brian Sansoni, VP-communications and sustainability, got out of DC to speak to member company executives. In particular, they were looking for the next generation of leaders and seeking ways to nurture young talent. Their trek bore fruit with the launch of the Future Leaders Program, which will take place on Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2018. ACI asked member companies to nominate young employees from a variety of disciplines.
“It’s not just a networking function,” explained Hockstad. “There will be a lot of education taking place, too.”
All of which makes Orlando the place to be later this month.