The total value of the market for home laundry products increased by 2.2% in 2014, with further growth of 3.6% in 2015 estimated to take sales up to £1.63 billion. Value sales outperformed volumes due to the trend towards increased concentration in product formulations, while an increase in average prices reflected a move towards a more premium product offer.
Sales of laundry detergents, which accounted for 67% of the market, were flat during 2014, with growth in capsules/pods not enough to make up for the declines seen in sales of other formats.
The main boost to the market came from strong sales of fabric conditioners that grew by 7% in 2014, with even higher growth of 13% estimated for 2015. The segment has been boosted by strong NPD activity that has included the relaunch of Unilever’s premium range of fabric conditioners as Comfort Creations, and the introduction of Lenor Unstoppables in-wash scent boosters by P&G.
Wash treatment products also contributed to sales growth, with stain removers being boosted by RB’s launch of Vanish Gold at the start of 2014, as well as the continuing success of its Dettol Antibacterial Laundry Cleansers product range.
According to exclusive consumer research – power to remove stains tops the nations laundry wish list. Only 8% of people use stain removers in most wash loads , so the vast majority of people clearly expect their laundry detergent to be powerful enough to remove most everyday stains.
The majority of buyers also want the detergent to work well at low temperatures of 30 degrees or less. This suggests a strong desire among consumers to save money through using less electricity when doing their laundry, without compromise on result. Keeping the clothes smelling fresh completes the top three laundry must haves.
Part of the reason for declining volumes has been the move towards increased concentration in product formulations and the growth of single-dose capsules, with the latter seeing significant NPD activity over the last few years. Laundry detergents now need to follow fabric conditioners where more concentrated products have also been introduced to encourage trading up.
Opportunities still exist for encouraging more regular usage of a range of fabric care products that are predominantly occasional-use items, while in the biggest segments of laundry detergents and fabric conditioners added benefits can create more points of differentiation, such as prolonging the life of clothing, eliminating sweat odours or helping clothing dry more quickly.