chaz2When Channel 4 started showing the ‘How Clean is Your House’ series six years ago, ASDA announced a double-digit sales increase of traditional cleaning products such as scouring powder, white vinegar and lemon juice as a direct result.

In October 2003 the press release for Penguin’s tie-in book by Kim Woodburn and Aggie MacKenzie quoted these impressive statistics. It also named Ed Watson, a spokesperson for ASDA, saying thanks to the two intrepid ladies our great nation wasn’t afraid to roll up its sleeves, get the scouring powder out and get scrubbing.

But that doesn’t go for all of us these days. According to Mintel’s report from March this year, an estimated 10.3 million adults in Britain loathe any form of housework. The research experts say this loathing is ‘a key reason’ for the 2-percentage point decline in heavy use of household cleaners since 2007. Although over three quarters of adults really care about their house being clean, the proportion has fallen by almost 3 percentage points since 2004.

Even so, the manufacturers are still cleaning up on cleaning sales. Valued at almost £4.4 billion in 2008, the market for household cleaning products and appliances has grown nearly 7% since 2003.
Perhaps remembering the Queen video for ‘I Want To Break Free,’ with Freddie Mercury and colleagues doing the housework and visibly enjoying it, Mintel’s say the ”use of appliances has a positive impact on consumer attitudes towards household cleaning,” and significantly reduces their hatred of the task.

Products that offer other benefits besides cleaning are also popular among consumers, such as household fresheners that help create ambience rather than just masking or neutralising unpleasant odours.

Mintel say our general apathy towards household chores is typically lower in those households where everyone does their bit. Smaller households are more likely to hate cleaning, as there are fewer people to share the chores with and everyone has to do them…

Innovation and advertising spend in the cleaning market tends to be concentrated on products for the more popular household chores, such as doing the laundry or scenting the home. Innovation is limited in products tackling the most hated chores: NPD in oven and toilet cleaners as well as ironing is limited and fails to engage the consumer on an emotional level.”

As you would expect, a lack of advertising for these products tends to result in a fall in usage levels for particular items. Furniture polish is steadily falling and, Mintel say, without prompting and reminding, this is likely to be a chore that the consumer does less frequently, so sales will dwindle unless it is brought to front of mind. Even so, the bottom line is, cleaning products will remain strong sellers and much in demand.

The Grocery Trader

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