The category continues its years-long slump, as the innovations that jump-started the
detergent industry fail to materialize.
Tom Branna • Editorial Director
DISRUPTIVE INNOVATION. It’s been credited with invigorating industries as diverse as computers, publishing, ship- ping and, most recently, laundry care. Unfortunately,
that“next big thing” has eluded the household cleaning market.
Incremental gains are nice, but they’re not moving the needle the
way unit dose technology has provided a big lift to laundry detergent sales.
According to data from SymphonyIRI, household cleaner
sales rose just 1.53% to more than $3.1 billion for the 52 weeks
ended Oct. 7, 2012 (see chart, p. 58). Sure, there’s been some
new product activity, but not enough to shake things up to any
great degree. But that doesn’t mean marketers and their suppliers shouldn’t strive to create the next generation of cleaning
“Do not give up on innovation,” urged Gerard Baillely, R&D
manager, Home Care and Procter & Gamble Professional at the
recent Cleaning Products 2012 Conference in Baltimore, MD.“We
are overwhelmed by safety issues, energy regulations, China’s
economic slowdown and Western Europe’s struggles. Innovation
is what resolves these tensions.”
In his presentation, Baillely noted that within the autodish
wash (ADW) category, unit dose forms have grown from a 12%
share of ADW sales in 2002 to more than 50% a decade later.
Nearly all the gain came at the expense of traditional powder and
So, is there a similar magic bullet ready to be fired for household cleaners? To find it, companies must start with the consumer.
Regardless whether marketers develop ADWs, disinfectants
or toilet bowl cleaners, convenience plays a key role in the
consumer’s purchasing decisions. Baillely noted that the average consumer spends significantly less time cleaning her
home these days, down to 2.5 times/week from 6.2 times in
1998. But while more consumers are eating more ready-to-prepare foods or ready-to-eat meals, they are spending even
more time in the kitchen, according P&G data.
Baillely explained that more consumers are watching the
Food Network and committing themselves to healthier eating. As a result, while they may not be cooking as much, there
No one loves cleaning the house, but the right product can make the task a bit
is increased contact time with food, as the kitchen becomes
the hub of the home, which leads to increased food occasions
per day and the likelihood of more family members participating in the cooking process.
Armed with that data, chemists must develop the right
formula that works well the first time. In household cleaning